Sunday, 15 September 2013

A New Era Begins

Well, here we are after a very impressive victory at Sunderland in a match that we controlled for all but fifteen minutes. There were lots of positives to take from yesterday, despite Match of the Day's thoughts on the lack of protection offered to our defence by Mathieu Flamini. It was that possibly the worst piece of analysis I've ever seen. So here's my take on yesterday.

Mesut Ozil

Sometimes in football you have to pay for quality and you get what you pay for and the German fits into both of those categories. His first touch is orgasmic, his vision is Bergkamp-esque, as is his final ball. Yesterday, he demonstrated what we have been missing since the likes of Bergkamp and Fabregas left the club. I said in my last blog that I felt Theo Walcott would benefit most from his arrival and that was demonstrated in the first half with two quality through balls that led to chances for Theo but he didn't have his shooting boots on but those chances will keep coming his way for a long time to come. That said those opportunities were missed after Ozil had his first meaning contribution in the famous yellow and blue - an assist for Giroud. There aren't too many players that get 'the picture' in their head but he certainly does. He stole a march on the full back and he was picked out beautifully by Gibbs but the touch to bring down the pass from over his shoulder was straight from the top drawer and the final ball wasn't too bad either and Giroud's finish was beautifully executed. You know when this side used to just go left to right without a purpose, well that is no more. Ozil was that impressive yesterday, that I actually forgot (momentarily) about Santi Cazorla. Our attack is a force to be reckoned with once again and that was demonstrated in both the first and last goal. We've all seen Henry execute moves likes the first and Ramsey's second goal had shades of Patrick Vieira at Anfield, quality, incisive movement. So much so that the Sunderland defenders appealed for offside, they didn't have a clue what day of the week it was. Mesut, I love you.

Aaron Ramsey

You know, I have a friend who thinks Ramsey is absolutely rubbish, I kid you not. The young Welshman really is cranking it up on the pitch and he deserves every bit of praise that comes his way. Here are his stats for the last three seasons in terms of goals to games

After the victory against Sp*rs Graeme Souness was quiet critical of Ramsey's lack of goal scoring ability and to be fair he had a point. Obviously his opinion was relating to Ramsey's poor miss but he stated he has to score more and he has. He has five goals this season and that has matched his goals tally for the last two seasons combined. His volley was a brilliant display of pure power and technique combined. The keeper moved after the ball had hit the back of the net and much like I have gripes with Rosicky, the same would apply to Ramsey. When players have the ability, they must back it up with end product. There is nothing more frustrating that players not realising their potential and Aaron's had a tough time of it, especially during his 'winger' phase but now he has made his position his own and Jack Wilshere may well find himself being the odd one out in the centre of midfield and left wing may well be his home for the next weeks given Cazorla's ankle injury. If Ramsey can score fifteen goals this season that really would be a great return and when you see him finishing moves likes yesterday and his second against Fenerbahce, then there is no reason why he can't achieve that and raise the bar further.
Olivier Giroud
Watching in-form strikers is one of the finest sights in football, as is watching players blossom before your very eyes. Giroud has had critics, plenty of them in fact. He missed chances last season and he will do again between now and the end of the season but he has now settled at the club and the team is really benefiting from his play. He is the axis for which our attacks operate. He wins headers, he holds up the ball, he has vision and most importantly the team has adapted to his strengths and weaknesses. Giroud really has taken it to the next level and his work rate has also noticeably improved. He has improved in the every department and it's worth considering that at this stage last season he had no goals and was in the midst of confidence crisis due to misses against Sunderland and Chelsea. Giroud needs to be aiming for 25 goals (minimum) and I don't have any doubts that he'll be able to achieve that and with such a target, that tells you how far the team has come in such a short period of time.
Other Analysis
The only blot on the copy book was Koscielny's ridiculous foul on Johnson. I said this against Villa and it applies to yesterday as well - do not dive into challenge in the penalty unless it is absolutely necessary and on both occasions he's cost the side a goal. Adam Johnson (one of the most one footed players in the league) is going away from goal and on his weaker foot, why would you lunge into a challenge? It's too high risk. Gardner converted and we could have shot ourselves in the foot. Thankfully for us and Kos, we didn't
There's been a lot of focus on Altidore/Sagna clash, which is probably best summarised as six and one and half a dozen of the other. The key is the ref blew the whistle quite early and some of our players stopped. Altidore slotted home despite last ditch efforts of our defence and Sunderland felt 'robbed'. The point that is being missed is the players played to the whistle, had the ref played an advantage I'm pretty confident, in fact almost certain that our defenders would have cleared it off the line. Therefore, what's the big deal? It gives Di Canio his excuse though, so it will paper over the gaping cracks in the Sunderland side he has formed. They have two threats upfront in Altidore and Flecther but their supply is horrific. Wingers like Adam Johnson are in it for their own good, he's capable of wiping in crosses but elects to be greedy for his own selfish gain. They are in trouble and I fully expect a different manager to be in the technical area when we play them at The Emirates in February.
I'm going to finish the blog with the way we finished the game 5-4-1 to accommodate Vermaelen when he came on for Ozil. I thought he'd just play at DM alongside Flamini but it was a complete reshuffle. It just seemed a bit unnecessary if I'm honest but it didn't really have an impact on the game.
So Giroud has scored outside of London in the league, Ozil is up and running and Ramsey continues to go from strength to strength. Our upcoming fixture list isn't that tough (on paper), so lets hope this team continues onwards and upwards, oh wait, we can't, because we are top of the league....


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