So I got collared by our A.A matriarch for the match report, so unlucky for you lot, I hope you all have a few hours to spare on Sunday. Any complaints should be directed to Mrs Peaches of the Arsenal Tavern, Blackstock Road, London, N4.
Throughout the match I kept changing my mind as to how the general tone of this report would be presented. The end scoreline somewhat belies that it was a bit nervy at times and that Norwich were firmly in this match for large periods. I had visions of having to talk about being too casual and allowing them back into a game we should have comfortably won much earlier, but fortunately I now don’t need to because, 4 goals to 1 later, and a quick glimpse at the EPL table should bring a smile to any of the faithful this Sunday morning. To be fair Ruddy did have a bit of a blinder so was largely responsible for allowing them to have a foothold in the game for longer than I would have liked.
There were times when things, in an attacking sense, weren’t quite coming off for us in this game, but when they did come off boy was it a thing of beauty. The opening goal was straight out of the Wengerball archives of total football, and I can just picture Arsene at home on the sofa hitting rewind and play continuously with a big smile on his face.
On 18 minutes Jack received the ball deep and skipped past a challenge before laying it off and heading up-field. The ball was worked down the left eventually finding its way to Santi who angled infield and played a lovely 1-2 with Jack before sliding it into Giroud who played an even better 1-2 with Jack, complete with brilliant flicks off the outside of the boot from both players. Ollies last flick split the defence and found Jack who had continued his run bursting in behind their defence to basically just pass it into the net. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, GOOAAL. I may have even short-changed us by one ping there, but for lovers of the beautiful game it was somewhat utopian. I don’t know why we don’t just try and pass it into the net more often….All this shooting business that some people go on about is rather distasteful.
Shortly after this our Franco-Italian midfield warrior suffered a nasty head clash, and despite trying to soldier on was soon after replaced by the Welsh Wizard. I am sure that Matty will be fine and will stop seeing double after a good days rest and some of Mama Flamini’s homemade Spag Bol. Ruddy then pulled off the first of a few fine saves denying Giroud, before we somewhat started to sit back a bit too much for my liking, and Norwich showed they still had a bit about them by finishing the first half in the ascendency. Szczesny had to make one fine save in particular low down to his right.
This should have been the warning and catalyst for a renewed siege on their goal at the start of the second half, but it started a bit like the first finished, and I was left with a craving for a second goal to settle my slight feelings of nervousness. On 58 minutes I was duly obliged and an interception from deep led to a swift counter-attack with Santi carrying the ball down the centre, before finding Giroud out to the right, who lifted the ball into the box where £42.4m of Vorsprung Durch Technique had continued a surging run to nod Giroud’s cross home. I thought it was the other way around initially, and had to be corrected by my match buddies for the day. All this total football and interchanging positions between the players is making writing up match reports a nightmare…. sort it out Arsene.
So now we could relax and control the game and watch the flood-gates open…. Well not quite. On 70 minutes a bit of sloppy defending, more being too casual really by not clearing our lines or closing down, saw their lad Howson run from midfield and pick up a half cleared ball before slamming it past Szczesny low down to his left. Back to nervousness it was then. I still had a little bit of nail left to chew on the corner of my left little pinky. Fortunately just as I had finished that last bit, and was eyeing up the nails of the chap to my right, we finally got our act together properly.
Firstly on 79 minutes the Welsh Wizard forced Ruddy into a fine save with a powerful shot from distance. At 83 minutes Bendtner played in Wilshere, who had switched to the left, and his ball into the box resulted in a strong shout for handball. Denied it was, but not to worry because we retained possession high up the pitch and Wilshere received the ball on the left again and pulled back a short pass to the Welsh Wizard who was inside the left half of the Norwich penalty area, still some 10 metres out, and with plenty of defenders in his way. Never fear though because Lionel Ramsey, or Aaron Messi, or whatever his name is did the old snake hips thing and shimmied this way and that, bamboozling all those in yellow shirts, leaving many on their backsides, before calmly lifting the ball over and to the side of Ruddy. Ricky Villa eat your heart out. Maybe that lot down the road can stop going on about that one now because this was even better.
It was all capped off on 88 minutes when Rosicky got the ball on the left and lifted it over to the back post, where Ramsey played a lovely first time pull back, that left Ozil with the simple task of, again, passing the ball into the net.
A couple of thoughts for the day. Firstly what would Ramsey be worth on the open market now? Surely the consistency in his form is pointing towards a permanent shift in his level and ability, rather than just putting it down to a good run of form. Dare we start whispering the phrase “world class”?
The second is about Jack. Many will still point towards him losing possession at times but I would point towards the fact that he always tries to get us on the front foot driving forwards which inevitably comes with some loss of possession at times. He never hides and takes the safe sideways or backwards pass option. In many ways he mirrors how the team seems to be evolving which seems to be more loss of possession at times, but with far more regular attacking penetration during the game. I would take that all day long over greater possession stats but just moving the ball sideways and backwards around the pitch.
One final thing, a big thank-you to 26May who kindly allowed me to be at the game. Without that I would not have been able to compile this match report. So actually, on reflection, 26May is as equally complicit as Peaches if you are looking to apportion blame for losing half your Sunday reading this report. On to the ratings :
Not much chance with the goal but was safe and sure throughout and pulled out a couple of good stops. I really don’t feel the need to bring in another keeper with his current form.
I thought he was a bit under par today. He was reasonably assured from a defensive aspect but his crossing was poor and he passed up the opportunity of the over-lap at times.
One poor clearance aside he personified concentration allied with calmness all game. One lovely moment after the game when he was heading towards the tunnel and the West stand started to sing we’ve got a big f—–g German which you could visibly see him chuckling away to. He seems to be happy at THOF.
No dramas or rash challenges today just the normal speedy cover in our defence cutting out danger before it develops.
Without being outstanding today he was sound defensively and offered himself up in attack as well.
His game was cut short so difficult to fully assess his impact but he gets a 7 just for being prepared to put his body where it hurts.
Mr dependable. He is almost becoming the unseen contributor but if you watch carefully you will see how important he is to our control of the game.
Great to see our little Spaniard back. He definitely was a key contributor today before, as expected, he ran out of steam. Much more to come from him this season I am sure.
He has such great balance and vision and seems to glide around the pitch like he is not actually making direct contact with the ground. The new Dennis? Quite possibly because as well as the sublime vision and passing he is increasingly scoring, as 2 goals today will testify to.
Yes he lost possession a couple of times, but as I said above he always tries to get us on the front foot and I feel he is one of the key players that dictates our tempo and forward penetration when we have possession.
No goals today for Ollie but a big hand in 2 of them attests to the fact that he is far more than just a big typical battering ram number 9.
Ramsey (for Flamini 38mins) 9
One great solo goal and a great assist for the 4th. You now always feel that something will happen when he gets on the ball.
Rosicky (for Cazorla 59mins) 7
A bit like Arteta he is a very dependable player. I think he will be a key contributor to any success we may have this year.
Bendtner (for Giroud 78mins)
He actually looked much sharper and pretty decent. Am I allowed to say that? His touch and hold up play looked decent, he played a couple of good passes and tested their keeper with a good stinging shot. He looked like a good squad alternative today rather than the liability many may think he is. The system we seem to currently employ actually seems to play to his strengths.
My MOTM, I can’t choose. It would be one from Jack, Ozil or Ramsey. I will let you decide. Maybe I will give it to Arsene Wenger today for assembling and developing this fine group of players that entertains us all on Saturday afternoons.
Written by GoonerB