Sunday, 6 November 2011

RVP the main man as Koscielny shines and Jenkinson/Santos prove able

A belated "Morning Gooners".

Another late start for me on a Sunday. Perhaps it's a good thing... celebrating after a victory would be a nice habit to become accustomed to.

Saying that we've just won our last four Premier League games back to back and that's something we've not even been able to achieve with the world class Cesc Fabregas and influential Samir Nasri last season. We have to go back until March 2010 when that statistic was last trotted out.

What can you say about yesterday's game? We'll in my eyes is was as comfortable win as you can have at home. Our goalkeeper was rarely tested, in fact West Brom only had two shots on target. The only way we were going to be beaten yesterday was by causing problems for ourselves.

Luckily this group of players seems to have become wise to the fact that suicidal passes aren't the way to win games and they've been cut out of our game.

The manager as expected made two changes from the team which drew with Marseille in midweek. Captain Robin van Persie returned in place of Ju Young Park who dropped to the bench. And as I predicted, Wenger opted for Laurent Koscielny alongside Thomas Vermaelen instead of Per Mertesacker who had to settle for a place on the bench.

It was pretty much a walking in the park from opening exchanges. All Arsenal, the way it should be when we face teams who don't have our passing game at home. The opening goal game from our first shot on Ben Foster goal at the Clock End.

Aaron Ramsey who is becoming very influential in this team set Theo Walcott free on the right. The Englishman cut inside and shot on target. His effort was parried away by Foster into the path of man of the moment Robin van Persie who made no mistake in slotting home his eighth goal in the last seven games.

Wenger's men were passing the ball around nicely. Mikel Arteta keeping things moving from the centre of the pitch with Andre Santos always providing an option on the left. Personally I though the pre-match criticism of our new Brazilian left back was harsh and not warranted. He's yet to prove himself a liability and should not be tarnished with a brush already that he's a problem.

The guy has made seven appearances in an Arsenal shirt and is getting to know the country, English football and the language, which he's yet to master fully. I think he should be given a certain amount of time to settle in fully before we pass judgement on him. He's played for Brazil. It's not as if they hand out caps to bad players.

And yesterday I though he did very well. The vast majority of his passes found a team mate and he did everything asked  of him at the back. He also offered us a threat going forward. And if he's pressing down the left high up the pitch it's going to mean on most occasions that whoever is playing on the attacking right for the opposition is going to have to track back more and help his defence out, because Santos is posing a threat.

Our second goal had van Persie again involved. He got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Thomas Vermaelen who was charging into the box. He fired in a powerful shot and scored, a shot which I expected to break the net it was that hard. Foster had no chance.

So we led 2-0 at half time. Only the second time we've gone in at half time ahead in a home league game this season.

The second half was a walk in the park. Arsenal of course in the driving seat because of their domination of the game and the fact that West Brom offered little in the way of going forward.

It wasn't so much of Arsenal having to take the handbrake off at any point in the game, I don't think it was ever on. Vermaelen should have added his second of the game, van Persie again the provider this time from a corner but the Belgium international's header was slightly wide.

Arteta, Ramsey and Song were dominating the midfield. Out wide Walcott and Gervinho were causing problems abley assisted by Jenkinson and Santos. I though the young full back had arguably his best game in an Arsenal shirt. He proved to be such a danger with his crosses, if we only had someone who was prepared to attack the ball with their head in the box. Perhaps that will be where Marouane Chamakh comes in?

But Jenkinson did prove to be a useful asset on the right. He motored up and down that flank and did provide a decent end ball. If someone chose to get into the box. On a number of occasions if we had a decent poacher type of centre forward he would have scored at least twice.

Gervinho, Song and van Persie had efforts on goal before Wenger rung the changes, introducing Rosicky and Benayoun for Ramsey and Gervinho.

Two minutes later Arsenal had their third. van Persie again with the assist, this time sweeping the ball back for Mikel Arteta to score.

Roy Hodgson's men came on strong when the game was all over. But nothing could get past Wojciech Szczesny who kept his second clean sheet in five days.

And us keeping that clean sheet has to in part go down to the solid defending of Laurent Koscielny, who proved to us all why Arsene Wenger chose him above Per Mertesacker. Thomas Vermaelen will get the majority of the plaudits for his performance, and rightly so - he was excellent. But for me Koscielny was outstanding yesterday.

Post match Arsene Wenger said:
"Overall it was a controlled performance where we had complete domination of the game. It was a good pace in the first half - in the second it was a little bit off -  but we were never really in trouble. 
"We are getting stronger and overall it is a positive afternoon. We scored five goals last week, three goals today and didn't concede."
So we go into the international break having won six out of seven games in all competitions, the only blot being the draw with Marseille in midweek. We've moved up to seventh in the league level with Liverpool and Spurs (who play at Fulham later) on 19 points from 11 matches and three points off Chelsea in fourth.

It certainly feels we've come along way since the defeat at Old Trafford and there is certainly more optimism around the ground. Now we've got the slog of 14 days without Arsenal but it's certainly better to be going into this break with a much better feeling about the place and less doom and gloom.

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