Just when you think Arsene Wenger is backed so far into a corner that it seems almost impossible for him to escape, he does just that. Earlier this afternoon Arsenal beat Manchester United 3-0 at The Emirates Stadium – the first time they have recorded a win over the Red Devil’s in four years (a 1-0 home win in 2011).
It has been reported that Wenger gave his players the Fergie hairdryer treatment after their latest humiliating defeat against Olympiakos in the Champions League. The players have said to have gathered afterwards to discuss how much they needed to improve in order not to let down their boss for the upcoming game. That game was against Louis Van Gaal’s Man United.
Arsenal came out of the traps like never before scoring three goals in 20 minutes and putting the game to bed way before the first half had even finished. The first goal came from some dogged Arsenal work from Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin, before Aaron Ramsey slipped in Mesut Ozil who squared the ball across the goal for Alexis Sanchez to back heel into the net.
The second came from an unlikely source when Ozil played a ball into Theo Walcott, who dribbled further into the penalty area, before returning the ball for Ozil to slot the ball into the bottom corner. The third was a true banger coming from the most dynamic player on the pitch, Sanchez. The Chilean took the ball on the left hand side of the penalty area and made a b-line for the goal, taking on Matteo Darmian before blasting the ball into the top corner.
That was pretty much it. Game over. Petr Cech made some important saves, most noticeably the one with his legs after Anthony Martial was put through one on one just before half-time. Second half Arsenal sat back and weathered the storm. Made it look easy. Four years of inferiority complexes diminished in 90 minutes.
It was an amazing performance from the Gunners. Every player fighting for each other, the fans, and the manager. The game plan, whoever created it, was implemented well and at one point Wenger could actually be seen instructing his team mid game. MID GAME! Wenger actually barking orders, switching player positions. He was up for this and that’s what the fans wanted to see more of.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Well it appears that Arsenal are a better counter attacking team then they are a possession one. Despite beating United 3-0 they only enjoyed 38% possession. They sat back, soaked the pressure and hit Man UTD on the counter. And they looked comfortable doing so. This season, whenever Arsenal have been clear favourites to win a game and their opponents have played the counter attacking tactic, The Gunners have struggled. West Ham, Olympiakos, Dinamo Zagreb come to mind.
Simply put, never drop Cech again for any game unless it’s carling Cup and early FA Cup fixtures. The man is world class (a term I despise) and is on another level to David Ospina even if Wenger protests too much. He made some important saves and kept his calm. In my opinion if you’re a player and the first name on team sheet is Petr Cech you’re most likely to have more confidence in your defence. And with Arsenal – much like Asda – every little helps.
Theo Walcott played a blinder. Playing on the last man, running the channels, his movement was impeccable. Ozil turned up and was popping up in pockets, turning his man and laying the ball off in such simplistic yet damaging affect. Sanchez was a joy to behold. He has always been, and what is there not to like about a man who takes the game by the scruff of the neck, is determined to be the difference, and never gives up. Special mentions need to go to Cech, who made two vital saves at key stages of the game, Gabriel, who cleaned up everything Mertesacker failed to, and Nacho Monreal, who has been out of this world from the beginning of this season and since the back end of the last. He is the definition of unsung hero and could possibly be the best left back in the league.
Van Gaal has finally been shown for the fraud he is. Man United somehow sat at the top of the table before this weekend’s play despite generally playing boring pedestrian football against mediocre opposition. Having spent over £200 million on his team one would expect his team to be the real deal. But the truth is, a 19 year-old rookie will not be enough to win them the league over 38 games.
So now Arsenal leap frog United to sit second in the Premier League on goal difference and are just three points behind the leaders Manchester City. With Chelsea losing at home again to Southampton, and with Liverpool in disarray after the recent and shock resignation of Brendan Rodgers, Arsenal may not have a better chance to win the Premier league. They could actually be genuine title contenders. Well, it’s not even November so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Still, there’s something about Arsene and Arsenal that I just cannot rest my hat on.
Today the man did good but the boys did better.