By Walter Broeckx
Usually you get my match report shortly after the match. But this time I couldn’t do this. So it is about more than the match as the match details have been talked over and over again I think. As you may know I am the president of the Arsenal Belgium supporters club and we had taken this day to have a board meeting. The board meeting was at my house so I had to make sure that I was a good host for my guests and didn’t spend my time writing articles for Untold.
So instead of watching the match on my own as usual, I couldn’t even sit on my lucky spot in the sofa. The final result showed that all these superstitious things are nothing more than superstition. So my living room filled with fellow board members and it was nice to sit out this match together with them.
First we had a good board meeting to start the day. Some decisions had to be made in regards with the match against Aston Villa that we will attend with our supporters club. And as we are a new board we had to see that our first bus trip will go smoothly and all is planned now so now we will hope for no problems in the Eurotunnel.
This will be also the first time that my wife will see a match from Arsenal live in the Emirates and as she is a wheel chair user outside the house we had to arrange tickets for her in the area that is made for wheel chairs. I must say that both the liaison person for the supporters club and the person who is responsible for the tickets for disabled persons have been extremely kind and helpful. They arranged that I can sit next to my wife as well. I have heard that Arsenal has won awards for their disabled seats and accommodations and it doesn’t surprise me at all. Well done Arsenal!
And if I may add my two cents to the debate of ticket prices at Arsenal I want to say that Arsenal is very generous towards people with a disability. Again well done Arsenal. And I will surely report about it after the Aston Villa match and talk about the experience was for my wife and I.
Anyway on to the match. This was a very disciplined performance from the whole team. And a few amazing things to mention. Oooooospina could almost have stayed next to Szczesny at the beach. Apart from a few crosses in the second half and one low shot from Navas that he had to stop he hardly had to make any saves. But whenever he had to do something he did it just like in the previous games in a calm and cool way. Szczesny in goal for the FA cup run from now on?
Bellerin. I know I have been telling you about him and how I rate him highly to become our right back for the rest of the century when Debuchy (it should have been Sagna, the City beach sitter) gets a bit old. I know Bellerin is still work in progress. And that is the amazing thing about it. If you didn’t know he was only 19 years you look at his performance and you would think that he was an experienced right back that has seen it all. No, this is just a kid with a milk beard as they say it in Dutch. No experience, just a handful of starts and he was outstanding once again. Learning fast this kid.
The same can be said about Monreal. No longer a kid. But he is one of those that gets the blame whenever things go wrong. I think Monreal has shown not only in this match but also in the matches before that he really is a good left back and also that no matter where the manager puts him he will do his best. Not a flashy player but solid and reliable and ready to work hard.
Cazorla is something special. A person of small stature. What could he do in such a tough league as the PL some said when Wenger signed him a few seasons ago. Well he certainly showed what he can do in his first season. Scoring 12 goals and having a lot of assists also. Last season he wasn’t that impressive but he also suffered a few niggles and had some injuries. And as usual then the moaners come out and tell that he should be sold. If I had got a pound for each time I read last summer that we should get rid of him I would have been a lot richer.
And even at the start of this season he wasn’t at his best. But since he got back to the level he had in his first season and I think he is now even raising the bar to an even higher level. Therefore: Mr. Wenger put him on the bench against Brighton Hove and Albion this weekend. Give the boy a rest. Don’t risk him unless it is really needed.
Finally a word about Coquelin. I hold up my hands about the fact that I didn’t know he had this in his locker. I admit I thought he was a goner at the end of this season. A few not that successful loan spells. I know Tony saw a lot in him a few seasons ago and I was not that impressed. It seems Tony was more right about him than I. (Wow I’ve never heard you say that before Walter. This article is going straight into the Classic Untold series – Tony)
Wenger hinted vaguely at ‘some problems’ over the last years. Maybe some personal problems that bothered him that we don’t know about and are not really our business. And maybe these problems have been overcome now and he has found some balance in his personal life? One of the things I had when seeing him in the past was that I thought he was too nervous on the ball. Now he seems to be calmer. I also think he has a few things to learn still and that he can improve on.
Like not flying in too madly like he did against Hull. But I think Wenger told him that he didn’t need to do this to impress him but that he had to use his head. And since then that is what Coquelin has been doing: using his head.
And for me this was all revealed when I saw the highlights of MOTD last Sunday. The images that were the most important for me was when we scored our second goal. Most players running towards Giroud going mental. Coquelin also running towards the players but then he showed the change he has made. He started shouting towards every Arsenal player and pointing to his head and making signals to calm down and to keep cool.
USE YOUR HEAD he screamed with his voice and with his gestures and body language. Keep on doing what we have done all day long and we will be fine. And that was the moment that Coquelin won us the match. A few seconds of a player keeping his cool when it was most needed. Maybe even more impressive than his impressive stats over the 90 minutes.
In a way I think he is doing what Flamini is doing in his first passage at Arsenal. Finally in his final year of his contract he suddenly grew in to a massive player. Coquelin seems to be doing the same thing. If he continues like he did in the last month I just hope he doesn’t do a Flamini at the end of his contract. Manchester City was his big test they said. He won me over, he sure did!
- Coquelin comes of age, Santi comes in from the cold.
- Was Ron Greenwood the cause of Arsenal’s collapse in the 1960s?
And Untold’s Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal