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Gnabry, Monreal, Jack, Özil. Hail the heroes from the game at Palace

By Walter Broeckx

When I look back at the game at Crystal Palace we should try to look at some things that are not highlighted by the pundits at all.  As some of them were far too busy trying to discredit our performance and our win.

What they didn’t highlight was that the match after a CL midweek game it is always a difficult game. We have lost (and others too) on a lot of occasions. And if you look at the performance of the other teams who played in the CL of Europa League this week we see that most of them struggled to win. And I cannot remember one of those teams playing some champagne football this weekend. The most important thing after a CL game and certainly when playing away from home is: make sure you win. We did just that.

Hero number one: Gnabry. This surely is a player that has all the attributes to make it in the combing seasons at Arsenal. He looks very composed for such a young man. And even when he misplaced a few passes he just kept on doing and trying to work. He was excellent at Swansea and now again I think he had a good hour on the pitch. Coming on as a sub and being subbed again is usually a bad sign. But this time it was purely a tactical change in order to bring more defensive stability after we had lost our two defensive midfielders in less than one hour.

In a way it is strange that there is no big fuss about Gnabry from the pundits. On the other hand: better they leave him alone. Just let him do his thing without getting too much pressure on his shoulders. Strong shoulders I think. The way he made himself available when being on the pitch shows he is very confident. And he is not afraid to take people on.

In the first half he should have had a penalty but Foy took the easy way and put the ball outside the penalty area. But in the second half he made a great cut back and forced the Palace defender to dive in and bring him down in a rather stupid way. That was a game changing action from Serge and we should be very grateful for what he did there.

I think that Gnabry surely will be making some more headlines in the future for Arsenal. He sure seems to be getting ready for more. The fight for places is going to be even harder as whenever he came on or was put in the team he did his job in a very satisfying way. But no highlighting his contribution from the pundits.

What also went missing is that even after losing Flamini early on and then losing Arteta we looked very composed at the back. In fact the only moment we lost our defensive shape was when Arteta got himself sent off for being needlessly in a man to man situation with Chamakh. For the rest our defenders were doing a great job. The best two chances for Palace came from shots from distance which were well saved by Szczesny.

Next on my to praise list is : Monreal. You could see that he was rather fresh when he came on. He defended well and shielded the left flank. But on the other hand he was very lively and was bringing up the ball towards the other end on many occasions. One fantastic effort even leading to him almost scoring.  I thought he was outstanding and his high energy level was great to see. A player that has been sitting on the bench far too long, only playing a few minutes but he surely made a good impression now when he got more game time.

And finally a word about Jack. He was put in the middle of the park with Arteta being sent off and Flamini already out with an injury. He was the key for what was going to happen in the last 25 minutes of the game. He was doubtful before the game after getting a knock in the Dortmund game. But what he did in that last half hour was impressive.

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And I also noticed that he was very hungry once on the pitch. Other were calling to bring on Vermaelen to put him in front of the defence. But Wenger was once again smarter than most of us. Vermaelen could have been an option (and I would have agreed with it) but Wenger was not just thinking about defending the 1-0 advantage we had. Wenger was thinking : how can I bring more stability in to midfield, be defensive enough to keep Palace away from our goal but also have enough creativity on the field to score a second goal.

And then the answer, certainly for the last mentioned thing, was much more Wilshere then Vermaelen. Now we could score that vital second goal on the break and that made the difference at the end. We might have held on to a 1-0 win with Vermaelen in the place of Wilshere but now we also went forward even with 10 men.

And finally a little word about Özil. The way he worked for the team when we played with 10 man was a joy to watch. His intelligent running to the right flank time and time again making himself available and make sure we kept the ball as long as possible was also very important in winning the game. When Özil got the ball we could get half a minute at least off the clock each time. That is about intelligence. A player that knows that we have to keep the ball as long as possible and take the steam out of Palace.

In fact it was great to see how the whole team went in to fighting mode after the Arteta sending off.  Ramsey and Giroud showed this when scoring our second goal.  An attitude we have seen grow since March last season. And an attitude that somehow kept me rather calm when we went down to 10 men. I just thought that if we would fight like we did on so many occasions in recent months they wouldn’t score.

As long as we keep that attitude we can overcome a lot of bad things happening.

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17 comments to Gnabry, Monreal, Jack, Özil. Hail the heroes from the game at Palace

  • southerngooner

    Thanks for the great post. I always enjoy reading your post although I don’t always comment. I’m glad that you’re bringing out the unnoticed good work done by our players apart from Ramsey and Giroud as well as the side of Ozil that hardly anyone notices 🙂

  • colario

    My stream was very slow on Saturday so I can’t say that I saw the game, which is why I didn’t comment in your post reviewing the game.

    So thanks for this. Much appreciated.

  • Hisham Hashim

    We need a balanced structure to our team formation. Ramsey and Wilshere provided that in the absence of Flamimi and Arteta. Ozil’s pivotal role upfront can be covered by either Carzola or Rosicky. We are missing the “wide” strikers but Gnabry is filling that role admirably.
    Best to use the players in their preferred positions but it is good to know the Arsenal players are comfortable to play in multiple roles when asked. I believe Wenger likes these kind of players.
    However, sticking to this rigid formation may make us too predictable. Hence, the flexibility and ability of our players to play multiple roles is most assuring.

  • Mandy Dodd

    nice analysis. As for praise for Gnabry, the pundits are getting too carried away with Townsend to the point of embarassment to notice him…and as you say, maybe a good thing

  • bc

    those wide roles are currently being contested by cazorla Wilshire ramsey ryo rosicky and gnabry, but when chamberlain, Walcott and podolski return, there will be fierce competition all over the park.

    I am not sure there is another team that could have 19 players competing for just 6 places, ok may be 7 of those (diaby, frimpong, zelalem, ryo, park, gnabry and bendtner) are not genuine contenders when everyone is fit but as 3rd/4th choice players they are not so bad.

    perhaps one good signing to replace diaby and frimpong and another to replace park and bendtner would give us a squad capable of really competing at the top level. another defender or two would give us a bit more security too, though squeezing vermaelen, monreal and jenkinson into the team is already proving difficult.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Congratulations to Gnabry, just signed a long term deal – see official site. Great news.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And it seems that I am not the only one seeing Gnabry as someone who will give us something in the future

    Gnabry signed a new long term contract

    As if I knew about it… 😉

  • Ben La

    Off topic but not sure how many people live in North London:

  • Peter zhang

    Much appreciated. Definitely a great player ,be full of confident without fear.dare to show
    His ability and skill.

  • AL

    Good analysis Walter. Those are the players I singled out too, apart from Gnabry – not saying he wasn’t deserving) after the match as deserving special mention. The way Ozil and Monreal kept the ball was a joy to watch, and as you put it, it was very intelligent thinking.

  • alex

    Gnabry !
    Fantastic player.Absolutely great.His touches ,positioning, runs.
    Is he 18 or 28 ?

  • Dewunmigunner

    Szensezny to me was pivotal to our winning on saturday, he kept us in the game. everyone played their part in ensuring the victory, kudos!

  • TommieGun

    “As long as we keep that attitude we can overcome a lot of bad things happening”.

    That, in my opinion, is everything.

    And I’ll say another thing: I don’t like losing, but I don’t mind losing if the lads play with the right attitude, which they have.

    And even more: I know that as fans we feel the media is always against us, and sometimes the refs, but I have a feeling that this year (except for the total douchebags like Hansen or Shearer), the media view towards us is quite balanced. Yes, we are not being celebrated, but reading Garry Neville and Carragher seems, mostly, like fair assesments. And this brings me to my point: in recent years, we had an attitude problem. We would have won 3 difficult matches in a row, only to turn up arrogant or indifferent and lose to lesser opposition. It was sickening as a fan, but I suspect that as a pundit or a neutral, it just seemed like a weakness to attack. Not this year. Even against Dortmund, we did not play badly. We always have this never say die attitude. And for me, it’s almost all that matters. Not just because of the values – but because the attitude brings out the best out of everybody.


  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree with you on Gary Neville and carra…..but then there is the refs… it seems stark contrast to our neighbours

  • Strus

    Gnabry uses his window of opportunity[injuries to Walcott and AOC] in a great way:
    -He scored the opener @ Swansea
    – the penalty that Arteta scored to break the deadlock against CP

    This is more telling contribution than Cazorla has this season! Serge growns rapidly, he shoot, he can dribble, he can play through ball too.
    I’m so happy that this lad extended contract so soon.

  • Pat

    Great analysis, Walter.

    I still think you are being harsh on Arteta, though.

    Wonderful news that Gnabry has signed an extended contract.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Off-late we’ve been missing pace to exploit the space behind the defenders, which was caused by us sitting deep and inviting teams to attack us. Gnabry in absence of Theo and OX has provided us just that…… I hope to see him more.

    I would like to see Ryo and Gnabry on the wings today. But the team news I just read, says Gnabry may not be fit.