As an attendee, and having agreed with Peaches that I would try to write something that makes sense regarding the game, here goes at 12.30am……..
As I walked from the pub, having picked up the team news as I left, a smug sense of contentment was the overriding feeling. 10 out of 11 of my earlier in the day suggestion for the starting eleven. Not bad for me! At last Dick was on the same page as many who have been on the blog in last few days!!
As the first half came to a close, I commented to the guy next to me. How can a manager select the right players, and then play enough of them out of position as to confuse all of them, and to leave one with the impression that they had only just met as a team before the kick off?!!
Willock and Torreira were playing holding central midfield, except Willock doesn’t play that role and Torreira kept passing then bombing forward and making himself unavailable for the next pass.
Maitland-Niles was playing right wing (poorly, in almost every touch). Tierney continually found himself with two wide players to mark and in the end was rarely able to mark either. Passes went continually astray, sometimes ridiculously. Every thing was slow, laboured, uninspiring. Have you ever trained together lads?
Despite having Tierney ready and able to attack and, as we know cross a delightful ball, we invariably turned in midfield and went down the right. There, Bellerin (captain??), with no confidence going forward, was passing back or inside every time, has even forgotten what little he knew about defending and seems to want to rugby tackle/hug his opposition to a standstill.( I am also worried he has lost his pace with his injury!)
What of the opposition? Well they said, “this is our lucky day!” “We have no points and have scored no goals so far, make hay, lads!”So they scored two goals and made us look like a (poor) pub team.
In between their efforts Tierney made his one beautiful cross of the half and Martinelli proved he is a talented striker with his head again. Smith-Rowe had a goal bound shot deflected at the last, following a flowing move.
Willock and Maitland-Niles were substituted at half time and on came Ouzi and Ceballos. They were immediately man marked and not much improved initially, but slowly they and the team began to give the impression they at least wanted to win the game! Bellerin actually went to the byline and crossed for Martinelli to hit a perfect strike straight at the goalkeeper. Mustafi headed over, Holding headed into the goalkeeper’s arms. The chances were coming.
Then Pepe came on. He looked as though he had been on the sugary sweets and immediately made the opposition wet their pants with his skilful dribbling. And then we got a free kick on the right hand side of the box and Pepe bent the ball around the wall and passed a helpless goalkeeper for 2-2. Oh well, although we don’t really deserve it, a point is better than a loss! And then Ouzi drove for the box in the first minute of extra time and we got another free kick. Up stepped the “boy” of the moment and bent the ball even more spectacularly around another wall and into the top corner giving the goalkeeper no chance again.
Arsenal 3-2 Vitoria, three points; for me a completely unbelievable game, impossible to explain to anybody who didn’t witness it, that being clearly evident from these very late night ramblings. Apologies to any who saw different.
Martinez 6. A couple of close ish cross shots and no real chance with goals
Bellerin 4 Not very impressive at present following his long term injury.
Mustafi 6 Reasonable for him. No major errors as far as I can remember
Holding 6/7 Likewise, solid and confident generally.
Tierney 6/7 Confused defensively in.first half. Not helped much by the rest of his team. Lovely assist for Martinelli goal and much more involved in attacks in last quarter of game.
Torreira 5 Keen and energetic but Dick seems to have made him into a bit of a headless chicken
Willock 4 Felt sorry for him. Hooked again from a new position with very little support from those around him.
Smith-Rowe 4/5 Effort, but did he have a specific role that he was aware of?
Maitland-Niles 2 Nothing really worked for him. Little support for Hector on right. Flicks and ticks that irritate. Lackadaisical!
Lacazette 6 Effort throughout but nothing really fell for him.
Martinelli 8 My MOTM Could have scored more, but energetic, determined and worthy of his place.
Ceballos 6 Usual buzzing around, without too much end product.
Ouzi 6/7 Eventually had significant influence on game with both passing and driving forward.
Pepe 7 Two wonderful strikes that obviously changed the game and will hopefully be the start of a growing confidence from the young man.