West Bromwich Albion 1 (Yacob 42) – Arsenal 1 (Wilshere 63)
Man of the Match – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Yeah, I know it’s late, almost a week after we played this match. Again, like my previous reviews which were published late, this is going to be a small dissection and some thoughts on the game rather than a match review.
1. The League is Tougher Than You Think
Arsenal got a good lesson of that at the Hawthorns. After coasting to 5 wins on the bounce, post the opening day debacle at home to Aston Villa, Arsenal were offered stiff competition by a solid West Brom side, who battled well for their point. West Brom played an expansive game at times, and rattled Arsenal’s defense quite a few times, while Arsenal had to rely on their pace from counters for good attacking measure. West Brom not only managed to defend deep but attack using all their resources, and we can expect more of this from midtable sides such as Everton, Newcastle and also physical sides such as West Ham. The 5 games may have been a stroll in the park, but the season is a marathon, and it is games like these that matter at the end.
2. Ozil needs a breather now and then
Ozil did put in a fantastic performance, but towards the end there were signs of West Brom’s typically English game wearing down the German. He looked fatigued, and was willing to allow others play in, rather than making the trademark, defence-splitting through balls himself. Arsene Wenger knows that the first season is very hard on players coming in from foreign leagues, and he needs to protect Ozil, by giving him enough rest. The return of Santi Cazorla from injury will definitely ease out things, and also Tomas Rosicky’s presence helps the manager to rotate around.
3. Tomas Rosicky makes a big difference
Tomas Rosicky provided some fresh impetus for Arsenal, with his pace and energy in the middle of the park, when it looked like West Brom were ready to wear the Gunners down. Within 4 minutes he provided the assist to Jack Wilshere, and generally there was a quickness and freshness in Arsenal’s overall play in the attacking front. Rosicky is definitely a great alternative to have, when guns are down. He needs to work on his fitness though.
4. Wilshere needs to be more consistent
Jack Wilshere is without doubt a fantastic player, but in recent weeks has probably fallen down the pecking order, with the arrivals of Ozil, and the form of Ramsey. He had an average first half at best, struggled to get into grips with the game, seemed to be doing too much for too little, and cut a frustrating figure. There are now too many occasions, where the Englishman gets the ball, and drives himself into a brick wall of defenders. This is one aspect of his game he needs to work on, to know when to make the pass, to know when to run into the wall. In the second half, however, there was a different Wilshere. He scored a fantastic goal, and seemed to be passing more freely. More importantly, he managed to work out space for himself.
5. Arteta + Flamini vs Arteta vs Flamini
This is one question Arsene Wenger needs to answer now. Does he play the combination of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, just Mikel Arteta, or just Mathieu Flamini. With Arteta and Flamini playing, there seemed to be a bit of restriction to the way Arsenal ran through midfield. The defensive side of the game looked solid, however, Arsenal did not get the ball forward quickly enough as they would have liked. Arteta alone throughout the season is a weary option, as is Flamini. The team needs to strike the right balance.
6. Cazorla + Ozil – Footiegasm.
I cannot wait for the Premier League to commence next week, to watch Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla operate in the same midfield. Both are absolutely fantastic to watch, and it will be footiegasmic to watch them linking up.
7. Increasing Bench Strength
Arsenal finally managed to name a strong bench, after cycles of injuries had marred their seasons, and the manager was forced to name a bunch of 17 year olds. The likes of Monreal, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Bendtner add depth, and with the returns of Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Podolski, things can only get better.
Jai Arsenal 🙂