By Walter Broeckx
After last weeks defeat I was away for a few days. Walking in Ypres and the surrounding where you can’t go more than 500 meters without seeing another graveyard with soldiers who died in the first world war.
It is the ideal medicine to see the result of one football match in the right perspective. Graveyards full with kids who came from all over the world to die. In a way it makes me always angry to see so many young man being killed and all because of some leaders thought it necessary to start a war.
These young men should have been at home, playing football or whatever and enjoying their young lives. They should not die because some generals said they should. All those wasted lives. All that pain for mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters who have lost their dear ones. Losing to West Ham was just a footnote albeit a painful one at that moment.
But being back in the present time we can focus back on football. We will, very properly, remember the young kids who died in Flanders Fields, but this is a football blog and so we will focus back on football. And I thought we had a rather nice and jolly match against Crystal Palace. The only other ground in England where I have seen more than one match myself. And never against Arsenal.
In a way I like the ground as it is really embraced by the street and the hill with the field lying beneath the street level on one side. It’s smaller ground and the stands are close to the pitch and each time I was there it was a great atmosphere from the home fans. And we mustn’t forget it was the ground where Liverpool really lost the title two seasons ago when being comfortably in front and suddenly the eagle crashed them in the ground and they lost costly points. These games have been tight affairs in recent years and that is fitting for most derby matches, even though there are quite a few of them in London.
Looking back at this match it was a match with two halves, although not divided exactly at half time.
One came in the first half hour Arsenal was so impressive that I am still left wondering how on earth we only scored one goal. Alexis with his energy levels almost back to normal was amazing to see, as he created chances for himself or was given golden chances by other players but somehow he managed to miss the chances. He could and should have had a hattrick all by himself in the first half hour.
But I think that is where it shows that he still is behind his teammates in the preparation. I think once he scores that first goal that it will really kick him in to a higher gear. And we remember from last season that it takes him a while to start scoring goals but once he starts there is almost no stopping him.
Olivier Giroud however said something that is on arsenal.com that I really cannot agree with. He said: “We were more efficient up front”. Sorry Olivier that was far from the truth. If we really had been efficient we would have been 3 or 4 goals up before they had their first real shot at goal and scored from it. That is being efficient in my opinion. A bit like West Ham last week. They were very efficient. We wasted too many chances then and now.
But when it came to open play we played some amazing stuff and as a result created a lot of (mostly wasted) chances. Now I am a man who believes in team work. But when I see a good individual performance I can admire it. And certainly when that player is playing for the team. And that is exactly what Mesut Özil is doing for Arsenal.
I saw a stat from Squawka football after the match. It said:
Mesut Özil’s game by numbers:
- 98% pass accuracy
- 10 crosses
- 5 chances created
- 1 assist
And then it said “Eyes at the back of his head”.
Now those are amazing stats certainly if you keep in mind that this is a player who is trying to create things. And he did create a lot yesterday at Palace. In fact the numbers should have had more assists behind his name. If only his team mates would have taken half the chances he presented sometimes on a golden plate it would even put more icing on his match cake.
But I will not moan too much about the other players missing the chances. The most important thing is that we create the chances. And if you create enough chances you will score. But I wouldn’t mind us scoring a bit more from the chances to be honest. Those tight affairs might be nice for the TV companies but not for the heart and blood pressure of Arsenal supporters.
But I feel delighted for Mesut that he has stepped up after the whole team having a bad day at the opening day of the season. Of course for the aaa types who write in to Untold ‘wishing us to die’ (they seriously do this) only the last result matters and so they will be off our back for a while but waiting to come out whenever the result is not what they expected it to be. A defeat is not nice. But what matters is how the team reacts to a defeat. And the reaction was great to see. They bossed the match from the start and that is what we want to see from Arsenal.
Under pressure to deliver, we delivered. And when, because of missing too many chances, it stayed a tight affair our defenders and the whole team did their dirty job when it was needed and defended and gave hardly anything away.
On to the question does Özil has eyes at the back of his head? I don’t think he has. But what he does have is an amazing intelligence to see what will and what can happen long before the ball gets to him. A player who knows what he can and should do with the ball even before the ball gets to him has an advantage over any opponent. And Özil has this vision in him and that makes him such a great player. I know the pundits will not rate him and give him credit. So the least Untold can do is to give him the credit he deserves. Well done Mesut and keep it up.
Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910