The kids lay the path for 2021 and the future Konstantin Mitov
Happy New Year, lovely Arsenal people! We made a smashing start by thumping a very poor side managed by Sam Allardyce, which made it all the more sweeter!
It’s incredible what a week can do for you in football. We were rotting down, looking for a relegation scrap, and now we are just 6 points off the top 4. But let’s not jump on the hype train just yet.
Our victory yesterday reminded me of why I love football. We had energy, desire and passion from minute 1. We had 2 shots on target by minute 10! Just a couple of weeks ago, 2 shots on target might’ve been all we have for an entire 90 minutes.
Our first goal came from sublime pace and skill from Tierney who dribbled past West Brom’s full back, than took him 1 on 1 again and fired a monster shot with his weaker right foot into the net. Kieran was absolute king of the left hand side the entire game! Even the cold weather and the snow couldn’t rattle him as he was warning up just like it was nice sunny day, while others were freezing and all covered in clothing.
After that came the true gem of the game, which was our second goal. No surprises that it came from a slick combination, with Saka giving it to Laca who slipped it into Smith Rowe and he gave it to Saka on a plate! It reminded me of the old days! It was like Pires, Freddie and Henry done it and even they would be proud to score such a goal.
Then came a period of really poor weather conditions where the ball was leaving marks on the ground in all the snow. This was probably West Brom’s best chance to make something as our ground superiority got lost, but we endured.
Then we hit them on the break in the second half, when a cross from the right got cleared into West Brom’s own post, then ESR fired at the keeper, but Laca was there to finish it off and the game was done. Our number 9 added another goal after another cross, this time from the left, met his knee and the ball was in the back of the net.
We could’ve done even more to boost our goal difference, but in the end it finished 4:0 and there are a few things to take out of the game and the week we’ve had.
Firstly, it was once again Smith Rowe, Saka and Tierney who gave us the energy that sparked the whole team. They created spaces so that others can thrive in. Ceballos made forward runs with the ball. Xhaka had players to aim passes forward to instead of sideways.
Lacazette has improved massively with the new players he works in attack. His hold up and link up play now makes sense as there are runners to combine with. He also scored again. That’s four consecutive games in a row, even though last time he was a sub he still netted the winner. At the moment he is our best striker.
And that runs into the complete opposite of the spectrum where Aubameyang is. His body language especially at the end of the game was really poor. Unlike before, where we’ve created next to nothing, this game he had a few chances. Not 100% chances, but some of them he’d have put away last year no problem.
At the end it looked to me like everyone is trying to help him score and he just didn’t believe it. He was strolling at times looking more disappointed at what he missed rather than the actual game.
Compare that to the desire the likes of Tierney and Saka show and you’d question who is more captain material? This is a major issue, because we have a few very highly paid players in the same situation.
Willian came on for Saka and it looks like he can at best only tie his shoelaces at the moment. A massive wage player at 32. He couldn’t make one decent run past a diabolical West Brom defense that Saka and Tierney dominated like they were Messi.
Imagine if we had Martinelli instead of Auba on the left? Oh my God, right now the kids are showing our “big guns” how it’s done and I want them to take the starting places again.
It was good fortune we actually had to drop Willian, Auba and Luiz to see where the future lies. Now it’s up to Arteta to stick with them. It would be a massive let down for everyone if we see Willian starting our next league game.
Can we get something out of him at all? I can assume we want to protect Gabriel Martinelli, but even Pepe who hasn’t been great has done more this season to deserve playing than Willian. Do those players even fit under the system we play right now?
We spend hefty money on “proven” players yet it’s the academy that has revitalised us. That said, I still think we need to add some players. I feel like Smith Rowe has been a real hero in the number 10 role showing exactly what we’re missing, but I’d like that area strengthened.
It’s not right to ask of those players at that age to carry us alone although they are doing it. The problem is our squad is huge and full of deadwood. Luckily Kolasinac is back at Schalke, Ozil and Mustafi will be gone in the summer for sure, unless we manage to find them clubs now. Sokratis as well, so funds will be freed and we do still need to invest.
Finally we should keep our heads level and continue to work and improve on our system. After all this is a West Brom defense that has shipped at least 3 goals in the last 4 home games and conceded 39 goals so far.
We’ve won games where individual moments of brilliance has given us the points, but today was different because we showed that we were better collectively as well. We had like 17 shots – 10 on target – by minute 70. With those kind of stats, goals are bound to come and we actually managed to pull our goal difference to a positive plus one.
We should still put it into the perspective of the season where we’ve still lost more games than we’ve won and yet we are just 3 points off Chelsea. If we keep performing like that though, I’m certain we will climb up that table.