Cech: it is easy to start getting blasé about the high standard of performance this guy puts in week in and week out. It is only when you look at how bad things could be and by that I mean take a look at the nightmare in the form of Claudio Bravo that Guardiola imported from Barcelona. This guy has won La Liga by standing behind that incredible Catalan out-field which means he had so little to do he could troll on Twitter for the best part of the game. But then, of course, look what happens when he has to do some work as was required against Manu. The man was all over the place. Contrast that with Peter Cech’s performance? Coolness personified ladies and gentlemen, coolness personified. 8
Bellerin: another standout performance from probably the fastest right back in the country. Remember whenever things are not going as hoped think of Hector and the world is alright again. 8
Chambers/Mustafi: I had to do a double take when he first took to the field; his hair and his physicality were so much like he who has gone to Middlesbrough. But that, of course, is where the comparisons stop. This guy has all the strength and determination of Koscielny and that is high praise indeed. Considering that was the first time he played with that group of players he did really well, going from strength to strength as the game went on. Yes, there were a couple of really poor passes at the beginning but after apologising to the bench he sorted that side of his game out – give the ball to Ozil, simples. I was surprised at how high up the field he felt comfortable playing; he was so far up he was almost joining in with the attack. All in all I felt comfortable with him there; his German calmness gives him the edge, in my opinion, over Paul Easter. 8
Koscielny: I had a small wager before the game that King Kos would be the first to score and do so with an overhead kick and I was right, I won quite a bit on money on that bet. This guy is just so determined and it rubs off on other players by encouraging them to try and emulate his commitment. MOTM 9
Monreal: best game so far and he needed it as he has been poor by the high standards he set last season. I have a hunch about this and that is that he is much more comfortable with Sanchez playing ahead of him; there is something about that combo that works. 8
Coquelin: our French ferret was everywhere in the middle of the park yesterday, breaking up play and winning back the ball. He is such an important player and one that will not lose his place to Xhaka; they are both perfectly suited to two different types of opposition. Arsenal – Watford? They were never going to really trouble us at the back so Xhaka is our man. Now we come to play City, who would you prefer sitting in front of the defence acting as a shield? 8
Cazorla: Did you see that last ditch tackle he made to stop Shane Long breaking through for a one on one with Cech? It was a tackle that Tony Adams would have been proud of. That may have got the crowd singing his name but it was his emphatic penalty strike that really got everyone out of their seats jumping for joy. He will lose his place to Ramsey when he returns; the Welshman adds just that little bit more steel in the middle but when it comes to art, Santi is our man. 8
Ozil: if you think I have been fawning over the players I have been writing about so far, you better turn away now because I am about to pour it on as thick as treacle. This is the best player we have ever had at the club; well maybe there is one other occupying the top table on Mount Olympus but if Mesut started scoring a few more goals its possible he could even take that crown. I cannot believe how lucky we are to have this player; he is a joy to watch, a thing of beauty. 8
Oxlaide-Chamberlain: for all those who saw the whole of the game you would have seen a player who made some really good runs in the first half, beating players for fun and then sending in a dire cross because he clearly hadn’t bothered looking up, this infuriatingly happened more times than it should and as such it only served to highlight why people remain unconvinced about his future. He looked very down coming off when substituted but as we all know he is never going to keep Sanchez out of the team and Sanchez is much happier and much more effective coming in from the left which means that that starting berth is going to be occupied for as long as the Chilean is fit. So Alex what to do, perhaps a peek in a few Bournemouth estate agents windows? 6
Perez: early days obviously. A bit off the pace of course but what really made his life difficult was that he was off the wave length, Ozil’s wave length. For this guy to succeed he has to be able to be able to link with Mesut, if he can do that then we have the player that we have been crying out for. His close control was good, very good in fact, not flicks and tricks that Giroud does which sometimes work and sometimes don’t, no. Perez’s close passes were deliberate, he knew what he was doing, he was completely in control of things. As he becomes better acquainted with the best player we have at the club, things will improve and this all bodes well for the future. 7
Walcott: Theo was rightly in the starting line up but it is hard to see him staying there unless he can continue to improve which in all fairness he has done quite a bit of this season. Iwobi replaced him and we got a direct comparison: Iwobi obviously doesn’t have Walcott’s pace but the Nigerian’s control is so much better that he created more dangerous moves in the fifteen minutes that he was on than Walcott did during all the time he was on. Iwobi isn’t quite ready yet but Theo you might want to start looking at estate agents brochures — in Bournemouth perhaps? 7
The Match Report.
Cazorla saved our bacon in the last minute with a well taken penalty to give us the all important three points. The team got better and better as the game went on although we were lucky that Shane Long wasn’t on the same annoyingly good form he was last season as he had two really good chances to embarrass us. But he didn’t, as we know, which means we get the luxury of basking in the glory of our unbeaten run this week.
Written by LB