By Walter Broeckx
Our win against Southampton yesterday was not just a win. We were playing a team that could come level with us on top of the PL.
Now I do wonder how many pundits would have predicted this scenario at the start of the season? Do I see any fingers raised? Don’t think so. And to be honest you don’t really need to be afraid for missing that. After all, how many people would have predicted Southampton being up there with the big boys after 11 games in the season? Not many. But here they were just 3 points behind Arsenal after 11 games played.
Of course in a way Southampton has it a bit easier at times. Nobody expects them there so no real pressure on them. As for Arsenal…well nobody of the pundits expected them to be there neither. Of course we at Untold always hoped we would be there top of the league. But that is of course because we are just a bunch of overoptimistic Gooners. But that is just part of the fun I think. What is the use of predicting gloom and doom before the season? Will it change the season? Will it make us better? Not really I think.
But not many people could have thought of the importance of this game when the fixtures were announced a few months ago. Southampton had travelled to Manchester United and got a draw. They travelled to Liverpool and won the game. Now I must say that I had seen that game for a large part and I was impressed by the way they played that game. So they had gone to grounds of top teams and showed real quality in their game and on the score board at the final whistle.
Yesterday we have seen why. They are a quality team. A team that can fight for each other and can have some great results. Their weakness is obviously scoring goals. They are the lowest scoring team of the top 6. But on the other hand they only conceded 5 goals in 11 games! That is a remarkable low number. And one of their goals against was a fluke goal against Stoke when Begovic did what he usually does: just hoof the ball up field and to everybody’s surprise it just bounced in the Southampton goal. So that is their strong point: defending well and all over the field.
So we knew before the game we wouldn’t be in for a walk in the park. We maybe would have imagined that at the start of the season but this was a match with the first place in the league table at stake.
So it would be a tight affair. And that is what we got. It was important to not make any mistakes. And that is what we did. Apart from Arteta missing a clearance and the ball bouncing in front of the feet of a Southampton player we were good in defending.
That is becoming a strength of this team it seems. What is very interesting is that after 12 games we conceded 10 goals so far. And 3 of those goals came from penalties. That is 30%. So if we would have been a bit more careful in our defending we could and should have avoided those penalties a bit more.
So if we take away those 3 goals we see that we conceded 7 other goals. One as a result from a corner the other week. And that was when captain Per was not aboard the Arsenal ship. I’m still very much convinced of the fact that we wouldn’t have lost at Old Trafford if Per would have been out there. I cannot prove it of course, but I really believe it. When Per is there, the whole team just is defending in a well organised way. Is this just down to Per? No of course not. It is something that the whole team needs to get credit for. It starts with Giroud up front. And to what up front defending can lead could be seen in this game. If he wouldn’t have bothered to close down the keeper as he did, we wouldn’t have taken the lead. That is something we have to give him a lot of credit for. It was his hard work and he got rewarded for his hard work.
As was the whole team. All the players deserve a lot of credit for their defensive work. We seem to have lost Arteta in this game with an injury. If all goes well Flamini could step in his place as he was suspended today. And that shouldn’t give us a problem for the next games. People could say that Flamini is an even more aggressive version of Arteta.
But also the likes of Wilshere and Ramsey deserve some praise for their defensive work. Certainly when Arteta went off. And good old Rosicky came on and worked his socks off. As usual one could say. But that also is great because he still is very hungry and determined to help his team out when things are going difficult.
I think attitude is very important. And the whole team is showing a great attitude this season. It is as if all the players are determined to do all they can to get good results. And as long as we can keep that determination, we should be fine.
A determination combined with the skill and vision of players like Özil and Cazorla. And now with the speed of Walcott back in the team we can add another thing to the team. Now is a great time of being a Gooner.
Let us just enjoy it and get behind the team. They have done their bit so far this season. Now is the time to support them every minute of every game. Come on you Gunners!
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