Wham, Bam, thank you ma’am!!! It wasn’t quick, it wasn’t clean, clinical or Stylish…. A victory that most would term ‘Un-Arsenalish’ in the extreme but the job was done and three points are firmly in the ‘Secured Revenue’ column (Forgive me gentlemen, it is the end of the year and invoices, accruals & revenue is all we talk of at work). Klopp and his hipster love of heavy metal were left reeling as the gentlemen in red and white proved that Geggenpressen, Wengerball, Joga Bonito, Total-Football are all left in the lurch in the face of grit, tenacity and a will of fire.
BvB hassled and harried us continuously. From the word ‘GO’, there was no rest and no remorse, the Germans pressed mercilessly and more often than not, I had my heart in my mouth as I stifled my screams of terror. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that even the Catalans of yore allow their opposition more time on the ball than BvB does. They allow not a moment of rest for anyone and I’m willing to bet that most of the 28 players who took to the field yesterday are probably still too shattered to climb out of bed.
Lewadowski looked lethal while Reus had turned into a proverbial pain in the arse. There were a couple of close calls but Mert and Kos remained solid while the Pole at the goal continues to vindicate Wenger’s decisions to promote the kids and make every chap who questioned him look like a complete imbecile.
In the middle, Rosicky was taking things to a whole new level and frankly speaking he was the only midfielder along with Ramsey who looked remotely comfortable as Dortmund applied enough pressure to turn graphite to diamonds. Rosicky has continued to feed me giant servings of humble pie over this season, but I’ll gladly admit my mistake and even tap dance in pink tutu on the roof of a flaming bus if it means that he’ll continue doing what he’s (evidently) best at.
On the other hand, Ozil, Giroud and Santi looked far from comfortable as the Dortmund midfield continued to focus on stifling our creative outlets. We struggled to create a single clear cut chance which was a bit surprising and insanely annoying. Ramsey and Rosicky continued to plug on undaunted but with the three others nullified, there was but slim pickings. Giroud is by no means quick and I daresay he was the slowest man on the green yesterday; though his (considerable) talents lie elsewhere, his lack of acceleration meant that we created naught over the majority of the game. This highlights the need for another striker, to complement the Frenchman: someone who is quick, capable of dribbling and poaching the chances that come off the Frenchman’s numerous lay-offs. If history’s anything to go by, I highly doubt that Theo is the man for the job, but I’m going to shut my trap before Wenger & Theo decide to shovel more dirt in face.
The goal came of a play after yet another spell of Dortmund’s sustained pressure within our half and an off-colour (by his exalted standards at least) Ozil daintily chipped the ball for Giroud to flick into the box, Aaron pounced on the chance and the yellow wall was breached. Klopp probably feels rather hard done by the result especially after a couple of bungled sitters in our box from Reus, Lewandowski and Mkhitaryan, but they had their rub of the green as well when Weidenfeller was more than a little lucky to get away after he tried to dragon-kick Laurent K, but that’s football for you I guess. More often than not, it’s the more determined team that wins, not the most stylish. It’s rather odd calling Arsenal ‘determined’ isn’t it? But it’s a good feeling so I’m going to savor it for the time being, not unlike the feeling of relishing those bits of cookie dough stuck in your teeth well after you’ve gobbled a batch of fresh ones whole.
Back to our midfield personnel: Over the last few games, Arteta has been shafted back into the ‘Dirty DM’ role as Flam has taken to the sick bay; so all duties relating to the art of ass-kicking and doling out friendly threats of blinding have suddenly been shifted onto the vice-captain. I can’t help but doff my hat to the Spaniard who has once again dealt with the abrupt change in positions with consummate professionalism. The man just puts his head down and does precisely what the team needs him to do; no complaints, no sulking, no grumpiness, no tantrums and most importantly no car crashes or drunken incursions into pizza places. The man is a paragon of unselfishness and maturity. Without him we would have floundered and most certainly collapsed. Stand up and applaud gentlemen, the vice-captain deserves nothing less!!!
A more recent phenomenon of Arsenal’s play has been its inherent Right-sidedness or a lopsided ball distribution. Stats show that a whooping 50% of our plays originate from the right! The basic imbalance is not a new phenomenon per se, but it’s probably something we should take second to analyse.
As most of you would have noticed, Sagna has been far more involved in build-up play than Gibbs and has probably covered the most distance with the ball than any other defender in the squad. I’m not casting any aspersions on Gibbs’s game he has really stepped up his game over the last season and a half, but I have a minor bone to pick with the fullback. On the ball, Gibbs is a revelation; he covers ground quickly along the flanks, is quick to cross, tidy with defensive maneuvers and tidy with possession, but off the ball his tendency to stick to the flanks tends to be a disadvantage. Sagna on the other hand, tends to drift closer to the middle and ask for the ball, so as to try and run down the right flank. I opined that three factors result in Sagna’s increased possession:
1. Confidence – Sagna has been around a lot longer and through constant effort has continued to better his game over the last few years until he has turned into one of the finest Right-Backs in the league. His confidence and experience also means that he demands the ball far more often than the younger full back who has but recently made the position his own.
2. Positional Play – Bacary S is a fantasticest right back, I mentioned that, didn’t I? Yet another of his great assets is his ability to position himself in such a way that he is constantly involved in the game. Without the ball, he likes to occupy a more narrow position which puts him in a closer proximity to the centre-backs who are more likely to look for Sagna than Gibbs who is all too fond of the side-line even when he’s off the ball. The RB also moves tirelessly up and down the flanks through the game and tends to align himself with to the Flam or Art sitting at the base of the midfield.
His perfect positioning, aggression and confidence makes him the obvious choice for a pass if the team is looking to relieve pressure off the midfielders and move the ball further up field.
Thought this lopsidedness is a potential weakness for opponents to exploit, I wouldn’t fret too much over the whole issue. Gibbs has a long way to go and if he continues to remain fit and progress at his current rate, he will soon be twice the full-back that the Frenchman is and believe me, THAT is no mean praise.
Now that we have rattled the Germans, we can look forward to the trip to Manchester. Rooney has been talking tough, and I find that more than a little amusing. We’ll deal with that fat turnip eating troll when we meet him., but let’s take a moment to think of our old friend and commrade in arms, shall we?
Hey Robin, How’re you doing pal? Do you feel that? The cold trickle of sweat down your back? The involuntary shiver of apprehension? That uneasy feeling as you lace up your boots? Or maybe it’s that hint of anxiety? Or that mild feeling of panic? Or perhaps it’s that little boy inside screaming at you to run and hide in the deepest, darkest corner you can find?
Do you know what that is?
The Webster defines Fear as the “unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”.
Allow me to dumb that down for you; Fear is merely the feeling that causes you to wet yourself just before we knock the stuffing out of you. See you on Sunday…buddy