Unai’s boys flatten Fulham with flawless finishing

Wow, it really is an exciting time to be an Arsenal supporter. With the toxic infighting of last season fading from memory and now, incredibly, nine wins on the bounce it rightly has to be said that the Unai Emery revolution is gathering pace. I can’t remember the last time I found myself looking forward to the next game with such eagerness: you just don’t know what you are going to get.

We continued to make mistakes at the back in the early part of yesterday’s game and I can’t be the only one who feels that a better team is going to punish us to the tune of three quick goals giving us a mountain to climb to get back on level terms; but, on the other hand, there are now elements of our play that suggest that not only could we get top four – we could win the league. More level-headed and certainly more annoying sourpusses will probably say that the truth is somewhere in between.

My take on what turned out to be the thrashing of Fulham was that it was a workman-like performance studded with five incredibly good goals. Our football in general wasn’t that convincing but our goals certainly were. I could go through all of them, describing each in turn but wouldn’t be able to do justice to the fine collection.

Probably the most important was Lacazette’s second; it came at a crucial time, shortly after the restart and dampened down the enthusiasm that Fulham had worked up having scored just before the break. Back in charge Arsenal went on to slowly strangle the life out of the home side and add another three important points to our growing tally.

Yes, we have to continue to fend off accusations that we have not played anyone of note during this run but as dull as the saying goes that you can only beat who is in front of you, we still have had to do it and I for one did not expect us to do it so well as we have and be in this excellent position – especially in the wake of the first two games. Still, I am happy and pleasantly surprised to write that things really are looking good.

Ratings

Leno: looking more confident and I have to say, commanding; I don’t think he could have done any more to stop Fulham’s goal. 7

Bellerin: excellent game, early criticism of his gallivanting down the wing, leaving us exposed at the back is now seen as unfounded as all have noticed that he was acting on instructions and he was not being covered as he is now successfully by Torriera. Hector looked the DB’s. 8

Mustafi: I think it was Fred who said that Shkod seems to be playing better with Holding rather than with Sokratis, this may be true; he did look a little more secure yesterday. 7

Holding: Well, who would have expected him at the start of the season to be in a position to stake a claim to an automatic place in the starting line-up? Not I, but he has. He really is improving his ability of playing the ball out from the back. Pretty much, always in the right place at the right time yesterday. 8

Monreal: everything was going down our left in the first half with he and Iwobi dominating proceedings, all marred by a really annoying bad pass that led to the Fulham goal. 6

Torreira: yep, the image of the Duracell Bunny works for me. Lacazette maybe most people’s man of the match for his goals but that is what I would argue he was supposed to do in the same way as a goalkeeper is supposed to save shots and just because Leno made some fine save does not make him man of the match. Now Torriera on the other hand controlled the game from start to finish and that is why he gets my man of the match. 9

Xhaka: Captain Granit, I know he is flavour of the month and he has been spraying the ball around well recently but he is still guilty of early lapses in concentration that seem to cause heart stopping nightmares early on in the game. We won 1-5 so I don’t want to get too moany. 6

Iwobi: confidence soaring, decision making improving, goal assists coming, what is not to like? Emery still took him off early and you could see the disappointment in his face, the aim was clear and it worked: don’t rest on your laurels Alex, more is still expected. The difference this season to last is that most people now expect him to successfully rise to the challenge. 8

Lacazette: two top goals, tons of hard work, swagger in his play. More excellent man management; he was left out of the team earlier in the season and has risen to the challenge of getting back into the starting eleven. 9

Welbeck: a fans’ favourite, everyone wants him to do well but he has two strikers around him who are at the top of their game and as such Danny is being shown to be the slightly inferior striker that he is. 6

Mkhitaryan: probably the thing he was guilty of was not scoring, that’s not to say that he had the chances it’s just that as those around him were scoring for fun and he was made to look human. I don’t think he had a bad game it’s just that he didn’t have a stellar game as some around him did. 7

Subs

Ramsey: well if that doesn’t win goal of the season then the one that does is going to be very, very special indeed. I have a lot more to say about Aaron but I will save it for another time. 8

Aubameyang: treat em mean to keep em keen. Raring to go as soon as he came on and gave a master class in finishing. 8

Guendouzi: superb cameo, ok the game was won but he offered so much to the midfield. 7

PS. If Ozil had played we would have won 1-8

LB

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53 Responses to Unai’s boys flatten Fulham with flawless finishing

  1. chas says:

  2. chas says:

    Thanks, LB.

    Your comment at half time yesterday was exactly how I was feeling. Having been largely in control in that first half, apart from the couple of chances we gifted Fulham with dodgy passing out from the back, that equaliser just before halftime could have have a really negative effect.

    Thanks to Laca’s great Wrighty-esque second, no such worries had to be endured.

    The team selection worked as well – it’s essential we don’t have just one starting eleven that plays regardless of form.

  3. mickydidit89 says:

    Good morning Chas

    While we’re enjoying a quiet moment alone here, may I say what a wonderful job you’re doing. It is much appreciated. Thank you.

  4. LBG says:

    Bromance!

  5. chas says:

    Cheers, Micky.
    I know you’re talking about in general, though this one is all down to LB.

  6. chas says:

    I find Unai’s pressers almost unintelligible but his face makes me laugh when he’s listening hard trying to understand the questions.
    Having said that, his English is improving fast. 🙂

  7. mickydidit89 says:

    Yes I was talking about the blog

  8. mickydidit89 says:

    LB

    Just read you your fine post and read “the sentence”. Thank you 🙂

    I’m actually a little confused as to what’s going on, because as you said, we squeezed the life out of them. I still wonder whether this . difference in our first half performances to that of the second is part of this squeezing intention. Personally, I haven’t a clue

  9. mickydidit89 says:

    Ok, now I’m really confused.

    Just popped over to Arsenal dot con to . see when our next game was, and they have some match analyst geezer. This is what he said:

    Having played three at the back in midweek at Qarabag, we reverted to a back four at Carven Cottage – but it was up front where the intrigue lay. For the first time this season, we appeared to be playing two up front with Alex Lacazette and Danny Welbeck, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi stationed out on the flanks. It speaks of the tactical flexibility that Unai Emery has introduced this season, and it worked well here with both strikers combining nicely.

    Now, back to my confusion.

    Did any AA Tactical Sleuth notice this formation???????

    Did we really play 4-4-2 or 4-2-2-2 or wot

  10. Big Raddy says:

    Fine read LB. Thank you.

    I thought Welbeck had a decent game. He was acting as the target man and won numerous headers plus his work rate is excellent. As you rightly say, he is sadly (for him) not at the level of our other two strikers and IMO will leave in summer.

    Micky. Formation? We keep changing it throughout the game but we did appear to be playing 4-4-2

  11. chas says:

    Iwobi was mainly left flank
    Mkhit popped up all over the pitch
    Laca and Welbz were very fluid.

  12. mickydidit89 says:

    So Mhki was meant to be right side of a 4-4-2
    Mmmm

    Got a plan, can we see a Mhki heat map 🙂

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent match review and ratings, LB. You are so right re the quality of the goals: they are gems that will get us through the next 15! days of non-Arse football! Do you think Emery(‘s team) had identified the Fulham’s goalkeeper had a weakness on his bottom right side? Four goals went in there and the rest is history – only Rambo was not on the memo-distribution list, it seemed (but what a finish).

    It looks like Emery believes in the mantra that his strongest team needs to play at the final part of the game rather than the start. If you think about it it makes total sense. Our second halves are v strong, due to tactical tweakings at half time and Emery adding quality to the side when the opponent is starting to look leggy. There may come a sense that being placed on the bench to get a go in the second half is the biggest compliment Unai could give you. Ooh to Be!

  14. LBG says:

    Another record for the Mighty Arse. In August Arsenal became the 332nd top flight to lose their opening two matches of a season (in all competitions)…….but they are the first of those 332 to follow up with nine consecutive wins.

  15. LB says:

    I suppose it was 4-4-2 yesterday. I find myself feeling very respectful as to how UE has been able to make every squad member feel an important part of the present success.

    We have Leicester next and I expect Ozil to return but then we have Sporting 4 days later and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start on the bench. And, further, not be annoyed by it as was the case in Azerbaijan.

  16. LBG says:

    Radio commentary definitely identified 4222 in first ten minutes and “Dick” said himself that Terrier had adapted well to playing centrally and on the right.
    I only watched high-lights but like two things especially, two forwards, Welbz and Lacs initially, then the Deadly Duo, playing closer to each other, and Micki’s central but floating role. Of course, Fulham helped, but I felt he was more creative than usual.
    Think our Micky was tempting us yesterday with possibly another Mesut/Micki debate.

  17. LB says:

    Micky

    The squeezing the life out of Fulham had more to do with the goals than any thought of high press and such.

    One thing did occur to me after reading this from Total.

    “tactical tweakings at half time and Emery adding quality to the side when the opponent is starting to look leggy”

    One of the tactics must be to have Alex Iwobi run the defence ragged with his supper fast breaks down the wing and when they are looking leggy in the later part of the game, have our more intricate players slowly pick them off.

  18. mickydidit89 says:

    Hi Total

    Definately in agreement with your thinking about use of subs and the game of two halves

    The hardest workers start, then the freshest match winners come on

  19. mickydidit89 says:

    LBG

    The Mesut/Mhki thing was when I was still under the illusion we played 4-2-3-1 🙂

    LB
    Iwobi used to be one of the second half subs that were brought on to terrorize the hapless, knckered oppo. defenders. The point still stands though

    I commented before KO yesterday that the starting XI represented hard workers being rewarded, and maybe this…..oh, I don’t know 🙂 🙂

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Hi Micky

    Yes hardest workers and runners. Welbeck, Iwobi, Lacazette fed by clever Mkhi to start with. Luckily, though, he starts with Torreira these days, as we just cannot afford to play without (especially with AMN out injured).

  21. chas says:

    Micki’s heat map compare and contrast with Wobbly’s. 🙂

  22. mickydidit89 says:

    Ok, thanks Chas

    My point clarified

    Mkhi did not play right side of any system 🙂

  23. mickydidit89 says:

    Total

    Torreira starting is one thing we can all agree on 🙂

  24. chas says:

    xG for what it’s worth can’t cope with Arsenal’s flawless finishing.

    All of the models have Fulham having higher xG – but this was largely due to their large number of shots which were completely ineffective and also Arsenal’s lethal strikers making and taking difficult chances.

    4 shots on target out of 21.
    14 of the 21 from outside the box.

  25. mickydidit89 says:

    Last question Chas 🙂

    What percentage of our goals in the league this season come in the second half

    And, if the answer is as I suspect, would it be ok for purists to only rock up after oranges?

  26. mickydidit89 says:

    that’s that then 🙂

  27. LBG says:

    1986-1994 The last period during which The Arse wore the three stripes and some of my favourite strips of all time were produced for us.
    £60m a year into the coffers, making the deal the third most profitable behind Barca and Manure. So, let’s go back to a classical strip, with classical colours ( yellow and blue are the only colours for second, third, fourth strip!!!), Adidas! Produce strips that lift the players and the crowd as the cherry on the top of our new Emery cake.

  28. LB says:

    On that theme have you noticed the very honourable advert “Visit Rwanda” on the sleeves of the shirts? Many football teams do this kind of caring sharing thing before taking the step they planned all along — What’s the betting the next advert will be: Use Less Plastic (very honourable) or Coca Cola, Big Mac or even Walmart with Kroneke’s connections?

  29. fred1266 says:

  30. LB says:

    That is one tough looking goat, every time I come onto the site I see it and it makes me feel, hmmm, a bit worried.

  31. fred1266 says:

    I find we played a 4231 with lacazette playing on the right in side

  32. Rasp says:

    Terrific match report LB.

    Like you, my Arsenal enthusiasm is cranked right up to 100%. The way the players come together to celebrate goals says it all. We are finally ‘a team’ again.

    I agree UE’s man management is superb. Keeping everyone fresh everyone involved … and no-one certain of their starting place. So far this season, we can’t be accused of the old complacency … or, on the evidence of yesterday, of trying to walk the ball into the net. The players seem to have lost their fear of shooting. All we need now is for the home supporters to be more vocal.

  33. LB says:

    There is going to be an interesting picture appear tomorrow of Emery and Podgytino next to each other on stage. I have just seen on the news that both were in Spain today for something to do with coaching licences.

  34. mickydidit89 says:

    Is it 13 days until our next game? !!!!

    I mean…major shitballs and wotnot

  35. chas says:

    Yep, major tedium

  36. mickydidit89 says:

    Chas
    Thinking about daily posts. It isn’t going to happen, at least, not with serious academic papers every day 🙂

    How are you at setting a poll. Time consuming? Thinking one sentence and a poll is at least an interactive conversation starter

  37. mickydidit89 says:

    I can do one now, but I am leaving in half an hour

  38. chas says:

    I can do polls. They’re quick and easy

  39. chas says:

  40. chas says:

    Yes please, bang one out.

  41. chas says:

  42. chas says:

    Shit quality as recorded on my phone.

    The 4th goal from Sunday.
    Shkodran deserves big credit for his tackle and retrieval of the ball to kick start the move.
    Terrier spreads it left to Micki.
    Micki pings it right to Catwalk.
    Catwalk fizzes in a cross, sublime first touch, left foot whoosh.

  43. chas says:

    Terrier joining the huddle after the 5th made me laugh. 🙂
    He comes from Uruguay
    He’s only 5 foot 5

  44. LB says:

    I have been so mesmerised by the Ramsey goal I hadn’t really appreciated the build up to the fifth.

    And that deserves a wow as well.

  45. mickydidit89 says:

    Ok, just banged one out 🙄

  46. chas says:

    That 5th goal had 19 passes in it.
    (I missed the first Leno pass and the Xhaka/Mustafi exchange was a bit naff)

    The passing out from the back works much better when the oppo are knackered and demoralised. 🙂

  47. mickydidit89 says:

    Chas

    One of the major changes this season has been how efficiently we win the ball in our own half and quickly counter

    You highlight the Shkodran 4th goal kick start, but we’ve seen the likes of Torreira (obviously) do it, but equally, goals from Laca, Danny and Mkhi win-backs in our own half

    POST POLL SENT

    Must dash

  48. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    I had not appreciated how good those goals were.

    7.05 Terrier 😀

    To add to the difficulty of filling the Interlull, I am away from Friday for 10 days and unable to contribute 😦

  49. LBG says:

    Mahrez might just as well try the back flip penalty.

    ” He’s only five foot five,
    He comes from Uraguay”

    I think we did equally well with our efforts!

  50. chas says:

    NEW POST

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