Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Five superb goals from the good guys and a clean sheet to boot, what more could we want from a Sunday midday match?

The same next week, I suppose is the answer to that question but one step at a time.

With Welbeck and Sanchez out we had to make do with Ozil and Walcott, I know, I know but needs must and all that and yet even with this handicap Arsenal brushed Villa aside with a top drawer display from pretty much every player throughout the team.

The first fifteen minutes were impressive, the interplay was crisp and precise: Walcott was making excellent runs through the middle and his team mates were finding him. Villa had no answer to his lighting fast speed but it was Giroud who opened the scoring with a deft little pass from the returning and ever stronger Ozil. The Frenchman found himself one on one with the keeper and seemingly when everyone thought he was going to lose control, he chipped the ball over the on coming Villa keeper and into the back of the net.


Everything looked set for a thrashing but we were made to wait as our initial impetuous plateaued. Somehow we managed to start letting Villa back into the game: Ospina needed to make a fine save to keep us ahead but no matter how hard we tried to make them look good and boy did we try, we were not able to succeed. Villa are absolutely awful.

There were a few frustrating moments in the first half; we should have wrapped the whole thing up a lot quicker, attacks were petering out too easily, although, now in the warm after glow of the win they can be comfortably filed under the heading of “Still a bit rusty”.

I think we started the second half the same way as we left off, no better no worse it looked as though the game was going to simply drift but 42 million pounds worth of talent does not stay anonymous forever – and it didn’t. I haven’t seen the replay so I cannot remember how the ball came to him but oh how deliciously sweet did Mesut Özil hit that it into the far corner. It had a purr factor of 10.


2-0, nerves settled and Wengerball was back on the menu. Not to be out done by the retuning German, the returning Walcott was going to get in on the act as well. Yet again, I don’t remember who played the ball to Giroud but Theo jumped on it before it got to him, instinctively controlling it before curling it past the keeper. It was a very well taken goal.

SOCCER Arsenal

Villa were beaten and the play turned on “Olé” football with everything going through Cazorla who was outstanding as ever. He got on the score sheet with a penalty won by Chuba (hope he stays) Akpom, as did his fellow countryman Bellerin with a low precise drive into the corner which I think I am correct in saying was his first senior goal for the club.

All in all a result that we expected but as the saying goes: you can only beat the team in front of you and we did just that – emphatically.

Bring on the spuds.


Written by LB

80 Responses to Arsenal 5 Aston Villa 0

  1. Shubham says:

    Great outing for the lads. Long may this good form continue. Next up Spuds. Lets do them at WHL. COYG!!

  2. ‘morning all,

    Great result yesterday, how good it was to see Mesut and Theo playing so well, and Hector of course. Oh! Musn’t forget Santi or I’ll be in Eddie’s bad books. 😀

    That’s my lot for a couple of weeks, off to Heathrow soon for nine hour flight to Delhi. Tour around the Golden Triangle, Taj Mahal, elephant safari and all that stuff.

    Expect to be in the top four by the time I get back.

    C’mon the Glorious Gunners!!!

  3. Shard says:

    Great performance, 5 goals, 5 different goal scorers, a referee who like Mike Dean was trying to regain some credibility, and Southampton’s loss, means it turned out to be a very happy day indeed.

    I tried to stay up to watch Barcelona vs Villareal to see if Campbell would get a game, but since I had planned to get up at 5am for the Superbowl, I didn’t manage. Stupid Seahawks. Threw away the game. But still, was an enjoyable watch. Katy Perry dancing with sharks and beach balls was hilarious.

    Great match report LB. I was worried when the second goal didn’t come for so long, but all’s well that ends well. Ospina deserves credit for two great saves, and a great quick throw out to Theo for the third goal. Szcz will have to fight really hard to regain his place. Is he up to it, or will he quit? I hope it’s the former.

    Walcott was disappointing. I know he scored a very good goal, and that he is coming back from injury. But some of the things he does is not to do with being rusty. It’s just bad decision making, or just freezing up when the moment comes. He was poor in the Brighton game too. I still like him and think he can be a useful member of the squad, but at this rate, despite his goals, he won’t be in the starting line up. With Alexis, Ox, Welbeck, and even Akpom and Gnabry there, he will really need to step up his game.

    Oh well. 1 point off 3rd, and a goal away from 4th. Not too bad. The title is probably too far to think about, but if Cesc and Costa miss more matches, or Hazard gets injured then who knows? Regardless, Spurs up next and hopefully we continue our fine form.

  4. chas says:

    Cheers, LB.
    A fine summary of a pleasing win.

    Santi’s pass for the 3rd was intended for Giroud, as you say, and Theo’s slightly heavy touch (because he was travelling at such great speed) took the ball into the perfect space inside Hutton.

    Giroud did get the ball under his feet a little for the first, but that just
    committed the GK further and allowed the deft little chip.

    Even Mesut’s goal was a bumbly effort.
    Fine margins with the goals but a massive margin in class between Us and Villa. 🙂

    Perhaps you could give us a comment later about how Jack coming straight back into the team is going to ruin our balance and fluidity. 🙂

    Powder blue safari suit been in the dry cleaners?

  5. Shard says:


    Is it your first trip to India? If you have time from your busy sightseeing touristy schedule, and feel like meeting a fellow AAer (even if an annoying one), get in touch via email and we can perhaps get a drink, or maybe even watch Arsenal.

  6. chas says:

    Courtesy of Arsenalist, I could have this on repeat for the rest of the day.

  7. chas says:

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  11. clockendjim says:

    A superb performance against Villa and remember it was without Alexis which we were all dreading – who is going to score the goals !!??
    As good as our outplay has been over the last few games, I think much of our success has been down to having a reliable goalkeeper at last. Ospina 3 games 3 clean sheets. In between these Szczesny lets in 2 at Brighton.
    The biggest difference is that Ospina confidently comes out and claims corners and crosses and this takes a great strain off of our defence. Szczesny has never done this. It is a pity this couldn’t happen earlier in the season due to Ospina’s injury, otherwise we would be in a much stronger position now
    Bright points for the future; I think Bellerin is our best right back now even when Debuchy recovers and Akpom is definitely one for the future, I just hope we hang onto him

  12. Rasp says:

    Superb analysis LB, a joy to relive such a great performance. It was a day when most things went our way. Maybe Ozil’s shot was scuffed and Theo’s first touch unintentional, but that’s just the way it goes. I hope we get similar fortune next week.

    It was apparent that the team were trying to set Chuba up, providing him with several opportunities, but it was his runs that created the openings for those passes. Maybe one goal will trigger him to the next level – an exciting prospect.

    I’m loving Bellerin, Coquelin and Ospina but would also like to note how Ramsey is slowly returning to form. He’s not trying too hard any more and I have a feeling he will be amongst the goals again soon. I think AW sees Ramsey as one of the first names on the team sheet in the future.

  13. LB says:

    Some of the Theo comments yesterday left me a bit concerned. Although, admittedly I have been in the Walcott bashing camp with the best of them but even I think it is a bit early to start getting on his back.

    We should remember that he was playing very well before he got his injury and I also think in fairness we should at least let him get back to full fitness before we start tearing into him again. Don’t you think?

  14. Rasp says:

    Hear hear LB. I understand the observation that Theo was cutting in from the wing too often – but what if he had been instructed to do so?

    Don’t forget he scored a goal by doing just that. We were without our top striker so he may have been seen as one of our best outlets for a goal.

    Theo wouldn’t always start games in my strongest Arsenal side if everyone was fit. He’d definitely be on the bench. He’s a great asset to the squad and as you rightly point out, he was looking good before his injury.

  15. chas says:

  16. RA says:

    Very good match report, LB, and always much better coming from someone who was actually physically at the game, and the perspective is frequently different from the TV perspective.

    I have amended my own view of Theo over the years.

    Initially I had very high hopes that he would hit the heights, but injuries and his inability to dribble with the ball led to below par performances which disappointed me.

    Now, I accept him for what he is, and he lends something different to what we have, and his goals can often change games.

    On that basis he played OK, and as he gets back to match fitness, after his year out, as Rocket said yesterday, he could be important to the run in to the season climax.

    But as you said in your Post, the whole team played well and no one should have any reason to fault the result or the performance.

  17. RC78 says:

    Bellerin is not that good..He is very pacy but he is defensively quite unsound, especially with his positional and tactial awareness…That said, if he plays week in week out, he will get there because he has potential. Is he better than Debuchy or Jenks? I am not sure…and I expect Debs to get his slot back in the starting XI once he is fit again…

    Theo did not have a stellar game but he had a good game with a goal and good movement. He needs to sharpen up and he needs to diversify his game a bit, especially his passing. His runs are still well-timed and he is quite composed in front of goal. I think his best years (barring injuries) are still to come.

    Giroud is also one player that comes under heavy scrutiny but the guy is good and we play better when he is in the squad – offensively and defensively. IMHO, he is our starter at ST and Wellbeck is going to challenge him for this spot.

    Ozil is still a work in process but he oozes class. However, he really needs to get used to the EPL quickly and esp. to the rougher and more compact teams if he is to be a truly great player for us.

    Ramsey is getting back to sharpness and it is nice to see as well. He will be in full cylinders by end of February but he is surely getting there.

    Coquelin – doing the job neatly and he got a new contract so let us hope that he continues to do the job for us BUT that he gets to be challenged by a great DM as of this summer.

    Monreal finally woke up and is playing rather well recently but I do not expect him to continue on this form.

    Ospina doing a fine job so far – PiG better work his socks off. However, I expect him to ask for a transfer if Ospina continues to be in such form…

    Cazorla continues to be steady and reliable, which is great to see.

    Quick mention of Akpom who is impressing me. I think that Gnabry and Akpom have what it takes to add depth, freshness and pacy wings to the team. They need to polish their games but clearly good potential. Hope Akpom signs on with us.

    Best available squad based on last few games:

    Ospina – Bellerin, BFG, Kos, Gibbs – Ramsey, Coquelin – Cazorla – Ox, Giroud, Sanchez

    But Rosicky, Walcott and Ozil making a strong case for involvement in the first squad…

  18. RC78 says:

    BTW – excellent report and post 🙂

  19. RC78 says:

    Giroud Stats at Arsenal FC 113 games played 47 goals 26 assists

    It is not stellar like an Aguero or a Suarez but it is interesting…

  20. wally says:

    I thought it was a solid performance against a struggling team. Bellerin and Coquelin keep growing don’t they. If they can maintain this level consistently along with the teams new commitment to defending we might be on to something.
    Next acid test comes this Saturday. I’m liking it!

  21. RC78 says:

    It is going to be a tough battle at WHL and I hope our players show up and I hope Sanchez will be fit enough…I expect AW to start a physically solid team with probably Ox in the starting XI ahead of Walcott. The main threats come from:

    Kane (who would have thought he d get this good?), Eriken, Lamela and Chadli. The rest of the team is just very focused on being disciplined and strong defensively. Might have a weaker link with Rose and Fazio but overall, tough team…Pochettino working his magic well. How do we beat their 4-2-1-3?

    Probably by playing with a 4-3-2-1 with the following:

    Ospina – Bellerin, BFG, Kos, Gibbs – Ox, Coquelin, Ramsey – Santi, Sanchez – Giroud

    Ox can take Eriksen out of the game and Ramsey and Sanchez can take care of Lamela. Kane will be tackled by Kos and Coquelin – leaving Dembele to BFG…If BFG has a good game vs Dembele, we should be ok and the rest of the team perform as usual, we should be fine and might sneak away with a 1-0 victory away…COYG!

  22. RC78 says:

    Seems everyone will comment later on…I will be back then…

  23. hey ho I’m back in Avignon with a decent wi fi connection.

    Seems like the most exciting transfer news so far today is Nico Sumsky moving from Dukla Banska Bystrica – to Hamilton Academicals…..

    This is Nico with a woman who apparently didn’t want to be recognised:

    We wish him well in his new career at Hamilton Academicals.


    Spuds next weekend is going to be a toughy, but if we keep the confidence from the City and Villa games we can nick a win in dark deepest shadows of N17 🙂


    Nice one LB

    Dont know were to start really, to many positives.

    It really feels our time is coming. The squad is showing signs of real balance. Experience and youth, hard workers and superstars, and now at last a more physical type of player to go with the smaller nimble type.

    At present, are we as good as Chelsea and City? We probably are. The gap has finally been closed and now the question must be can we overtake?

    We have one massive advantage, the best manager in the league who has been afforded time by an intelligent board to ingrain his principles.

    i expect a massive finish to the season. All guns blazing both at home and in Europe.

    it really is a joy to watch this squad develop and the feeling that Arsene will be fully vindicated for his approach is very satisfying.

    The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring


    69, this French bird? Were you enjoying rumpety pumpety, or was she using you to collect wood and scare off wild animals by sticking your bonce out of the window? hahaha

  26. ha ha Transplant

    My nickname for her is Apoca-lips… says it all really, I’d like to be able to say I’ve returned battered, bruised and sore… but I’m only suffering from a bad back from all the wood I had to carry from the shed to the house 😀

  27. Transplant

    If you look at the recent form guides we are only second to Liverpool, City and the Chavs are down 7th and 8th…. so if this trend continues, we could just… and it’s a big just, win the league


    Do you know what 69, if we beat those mugs this weekend, maintain our form and then beat Chelsea at home, we might, just might, go close.

    Its probably to much to ask this season, but next year we will win it.

  29. Only one point off United and six points from City………. it’s do-able. But the boys have to remain focused. If our form in recent seasons is anything to go by, then a good run of form for half a season is on the cards. I reckon we’ll be chumping at the Chavs ankles by March.


    Bit out of order that you done your back in 69

    I know how you feel, spending a whole year with my back arched backwards, staring at the sky as I walked. The spasams also made my arms flap and fingers click. I looked like a bloody Cuban limbo dancer.

    It could have been worse though mate. When out in the woods some times no action is better than some, especially if the only 69 you get is an unwanted one when wrestling a wild coyote hahaha

  31. RC78 says:

    Let us not get carried away…We are in the race for 3rd and 4th place at the moment with Man Utd, Southampton, Tottenham and Liverpool…

    We have a rather “OK” calendar and we should capitalize on it but let us wait a bit to look into the Top 2 spots…We are still in the FA Cup and in the CL and this will require our team to stay focused and…healthy..If we can keep our team fit, we will be ok for a Top 4 for sure but if lose some key players (Kos, Coquelin (who would have thought!?!), Ramsey, Ox, Cazorla, Sanchez, Giroud) for a few games, we will be looking a bit shakey especially defensively…

    Expect AW to splash on a quality DM this summer for sure, probably from Dortmund…


    Theres also the Champions league factor 69. Those games are very intense and put pressure on domestic performance. Our squad is stronger than Chelseas so it might play to our favour?

  33. RA says:

    Oh, stop it, Terry!!

    You have been ousted as a Doomer. I have it on good authority that you said we would only beat the Villans by 4 goals to nil.

    Such half-hearted support is unforgivable!!


    78, whos getting carried away? hahaha

    If Chelsea got the injuries weve had and had to rely on shit reserve players like fabregas, they would be mid table now

  35. Quote of the day from Bafetimbi Gomis:

    “Now everything is different. I believe in this team and his project. I have spoken with the coach and I have his confidence and he has mine. I am lucky to play and live in Swansea.”

    Who would have thought living in Swansea was lucky 🙂


    Redders, on TA’s site we do that weekly prediction league. For the past two years regardless who we are playing, Hull at home or Man City away, I always predict we will win 5-0.

    The one week i bloody fail to get my predictions in on time and we win 5-0. hahaha


    The Hills and coastal area of Swansea is lovely 69, but the town itself is really shit.

    I spent a few days op there a few years back and what really surprised me was how much they hate the English. I had to spend the whole two days faking an Italian accent


    Right, off for my daily exercise. Walking up the stairs at a very slow pace.


  39. fatgingergooner says:

    We played some good stuff yesterday, but the 30 minutes in the middle of the match (20 mins 1st half, 10 mins 2nd half) where we fell asleep was rather worrying. if we do that at Spurs we will be punished.

    Some great goals though and good to see Özil and Walcott on the score sheet again. Theo got some grief yesterday, but for me he is a goalscorer and creator first and foremost. His all round game has never been upto much, but if he keeps scoring then he’s doing his job. His pace alone puts fear into defences and makes them uncomfortable. It’s a useful weapon for Arsene to have at his disposal.

  40. Big Raddy says:

    LB. Thank you. Enjoyable report of an enjoyable match.

    A couple of the goals may have been fortunate but let us not forget we hit the woodwork twice as well – so it could have been 7.

    Theo didn’t know the ball from Santi was aimed at OG and his run into the space was excellent as was his finish.

  41. Eddie says:

    Lb – did you do joy the game ? 🙂 very cheerful report, thanks

    Would you say that was our best result this season or was city even better for you?

  42. LB says:


    Villa were too poor to get any real measure of how good we were, although, it was ideal for Wenger to help get Walcott and Ozil back up to speed as well as more important minutes for Bellerin.

    I suppose Man City has to be our best result as we haven’t beaten anyone else of note but I do expect a barn storming end to the season.

  43. stevepalmer1 says:

    Evening all,
    Good report LB,
    Many believe we had spells where we switched off, but most teams have spells where they take their foot off the gas, and this game was no different.

    What was different than many games we have played is that it has started to look that even when we have lapses the players are still maintaining their positions, and what that does is stalling breakaway attacks and allowing players to reposition.

    Le Coq seems to maintain his position without pushing to far forward, his telling tackling and tenacity has made such a difference, Santi and Ozil also do a lot more in defence, Monreal and Belerin also cover but are quick to turn to attack, Ramsey seems to be working harder and with Rosiski waiting in the wings he knows should he start to feel it in his legs, then Rosiski can come on and keep the pressure up

    BFG and Kosi, seem to have less pressure on them and with Ospina seemingly more composed in goal has made the back line more stable.

    Our midfielders have raised the standard of workrate, where the gung ho style is now left more to the forwards, Giroud holds the ball well Walcott has the speed and Sanchez has the fighting ability that lifts team mates.

    We still of course have Wilshere The Ox Debuchey Gibbs and Welbeck plus the unseen Gnabry to come back, .Not forgetting the young Akpon who also looks useful.

    Of course at present Ospina looks comfortable, but Czezesney and Martinez are breathing down his neck, With 2 new signings in this window our Centre Back pair will also be aware that a loss of form or bad mistakes could see these youngsters come in, and it could be a struggle to keep their places safe.

    Arsene has improved the squad, and players now realise that there are players fighting for all positions. Injuries are diminishing and tempo has risen. Whoever gets picked has to now show his commitment, any passengers will be sitting out and it could be a while till they get back in.

    Good times look ahead, a stack of talented players with others regaining fitness, makes for a very exciting finish.

  44. Gööner In Exile says:

    Fine summation LB, as you say very easy watching and nice to get three points.

    On the Theo bashing it is nothing more than asking him to keep his width/position for the benefit of the team. That’s how he got his goal, that’s how we scored the second as he picked the ball deep and moved forward with it quickly. Neither would have been scored if he’d continued playing as he had done in the latter part of the first half when our attacks petered out and we allowed Villa into the game. Full dissection coming by way of postage, but it’s not about Theo bashing, it’s about him using his attributes in the best way for the team, much as Arsene said about LeCoq in his interview with Smudger that’s well worth five minutes of anyone’s time. I was criticising Rambo the week before last against City because he knew he was shattered but he was still trying to run the full length of the pitch to get in goalscoring positions at 2-0 up. The extra 10% we need is about our players doing the right thing 99.9% of the time.

    On Ospina I thought he gave very good calls that were picked up on pitch mic’s when he came from crosses, he did get one wrong and ended up making an important save at 1-0 up. I did have my doubts about the height at which he was claiming the ball, either he is very good at reading the ball flight and intentions of others or he got lucky, I hope it’s the former as overall he seems very calm and composed and that’s what comes when you are an experienced goalkeeper.

    The difference between Djokovic and Murray in yesterday’s final was how each player dealt with the minor set backs. Goalkeepers have to have the same quality.

  45. Eddie says:

    a barn storming end to the season 🙂 I’ve never heard this gem before 🙂


    Its funny how quickly options and future direction of a team can change

    Coq and Belerin? who would have thought it six months ago?

    This time last year who knew much about Chambers, Billek, and Ospina?

    And Akpom? He looks the best forward to come out of our ranks since, dare I say it, Andy Cole.

    We are very very lucky to have the best manager in European football. For years he had to suffer as all his attempts to build a squad were hampered by players leaving.

    Now, he can build. He doesnt need the budget of Pelengrini, Morinio, or Van Gall, just enough to be close enough to compete.

    He done Ferguson that way, now he will turn over these others

  47. arnie says:

    lovely report, LB. 🙂 knot ear at all. 😦 but no complaints.

    Cuadrado to the Chavs. what a bum! still the best transfer business is this Paulista fella. says who? my gut feelings. 🙂

    look forward to some Spud bashing extravaganza next weekend. COYG. 🙂

    did not manage to comment all day, but watched that flick probably a hunderd times during the day. Ta Chas. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  48. VCC says:

    Terry 9:47″””””””. Ever the optimist…….I bet you could sell sand to the Arabs. 🙂

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    Just passing through to say

    Thanks LB, a fine read. Still think we were pants for large parts but very happily things clicked and they didn’t fluke one.

    However, you’re always more likely to do this with a Mesut and a Theo on the pitch. It’s the Utd Way. Enough people who can score a goal, and you’ll probably get one.

    Talking of scoring goals, hope you’re reading and resting Crystals.

  50. Eddie says:

    Micky – do you think that if Crystal reads and rests he will make it to the starting XI?

  51. Good morning girls

    Peaches / Rasp

    I’ve sent a possible post to Nuts if you are short of options.

  52. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    chas. Superb. Allardyce’s holiday?

    Didit. We were NOT pants. Perhaps a little less than lethal but I always thought we would win comfortably – though that could have been the hemp oil massage in the steam teepee pre-game

  53. Eddie says:

    Silly baby 🙂 I’ve seen baby elephants going bananas in an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka, very cute

  54. chas says:

    Mmmmmmmm – hemp oil.

  55. Big Raddy says:

    Eddie, I spent a day at the Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka about 20 years ago. Brilliant place but probably a commercialised tourist trap today, on the same trip I visited the Elephant rock with the Buddha on top. And was due to go to the Elephant Cove off the coast of Iceland in the final chas pic but the seas were too rough

    Not trying to be Jack the Peanut but it is true!

  56. ‘Jack the Peanut’ 😀

  57. Eddie says:

    raddy – I was there about 15 years ago, still beautiful and not very commercialised and full of smiling, happy people

  58. So no Cavani then………. pfft, don’t need him anyway, too much of a pretty boy pin up 🙂

  59. RA says:

    Morning Eddie,

    When you told Raddy — “I was there about 15 years ago, still beautiful and not very commercialised and full of smiling, happy people” — I can understand you still being beautiful, but who were all these happy smiling people you were not full of? 🙂

  60. Eddie says:

    RA – piggy noise here. Work this one out

  61. Redders

    Eddie wasn’t very ‘commercialised’ either 15 years ago. 🙂

  62. Eddie says:

    ooooh!! I have just realised it is this Saturday! Early kick off, oooooh
    This is going to be a game and a half

    nb – I was a robot 15 years ago. Working in a place with no windows, 80 people in one room sitting in little cages, travelling to work under the ground, programming money with more digits than telephone numbers, my team on the other side of the world, contemplating suicide every single morning.

  63. yes Eddie… thi saturday lunchtime KO. Should be a few goals in it, hopefully Sanchez will be fit.

    I hope it wasn’t you conteplating suicide 15 years ago 😦

  64. Eddie says:

    …and if Sanchez is not fit? Can we do without? I think so.

    mailed you.

  65. Rasp says:

    Morning NB, a post from you is gratefully received 😛

    I’ve scribbled a few lines for today and your post follows on very nicely from my theme, so we’ll use your tomorrow if that’s OK 😀

  66. You’re the boss Rasp. No problem mate 🙂

  67. Raddy

    I’ll be visiting FNAC today to check the Monaco ticket situation. Will let you know later if they are on sale yet

  68. Good news about Akpom 🙂

  69. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the link chas, excellent news about Chuba. I’m really loving our squad of players now … strength and backup in all positions 🙂

  70. Rasp says:

    …. New post ……

  71. davespagnol says:

    Wenger kept Coquelin as a reserve, and sometimes farmed him out on loan. I think we’re now seeing why he didn’t get rid, he saw the potential. So he might have got lucky in an injury crisis but the luck was partly of his own making. Two other pieces of the puzzle were out injured (Olly and Kos). Kos and the BFG together are far more than the sum of the parts. Le Coq in front of them, with Olly leading the line, I think that’s the most solid spine we’ve had for years. Sure we’ve had better individuals but there is something just right about the team with those 4 in it. The great creative players can now play, the solidity means that maybe the possession stats go down, as the creative players have the confidence to lose possession in the pursuit of a killer pass. When the team isn’t solid, you are afraid to lose possession and play a load of safe passes that go nowhere.

    And we’re still pretty to watch! Win-win!!

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