By Walter Broeckx
We know that some people only take a look at the last 30 minutes to decide if you are any good or total rubbish. At Untold we try to be a bit more balanced. We certainly will not say that Giroud is a complete waste of space when he misses a few chances against Monaco. Others do and that might be their opinion but it is an opinion based on the 30-minutes memory stick one could say. Some people can only remember the last 30 minutes and the rest is erased from their memory.
Every dropped point in the league or every defeat is for some good enough to discredit all and everyone. The manager as their favourite scapegoat, the player who on the day underperformed and anyone else who the media want to be that the scapegoat is on the day. Now saying that a player makes a mistake is of course very well allowed. Hell even saying that the manager made a mistake is fine……..if and there is a big IF it is first and for all said in a respectful way and also if it is supported by arguments. Saying “Wenger is a useless c*nt who doesn’t do tactics” is not falling in either category. Yet we see it each time things didn’t go as planned. There is no argument and certainly no evidence.
I think anyone who is still saying the ‘Wenger doesn’t do tactics’ now is really someone who is deliberately trying to lie or someone who just parrots what the media and some other negativists are feeding them. I know after last nights referee performance the influence a referee has become clearer than ever. His performance was not perfect. Not at all. But for the first time since…..match 50 I had the impression this ref wasn’t out there to screw us as usual at Old Trafford.
But let us talk about what our players did. Looking back at the film of this match in my head (so I might have romanticised a few things) is that from the start this team was having a plan. A plan that can be compared to the Manchester City game plan. All players worked from the first minute. They defended as a team and came forward as a team. Szczesny couldn’t do much about the goal. A free header looping over his arms from close range was more down to his central defenders not covering that area. But that is the only mistake they made in the whole match I think. Apart from one shot from a different angle from Di Maria our Polish keeper was rarely tested.
That was down to hard work from the whole team. Bellerin after an early yellow had to be careful and he did this excellent till Young tried to get him send off with a few spectacular tumbles. Wenger was wise to take him off and Chambers did a great job after that. He isn’t as fast as Bellerin but he stuck in and did what he needed to do and kept Young quiet. Apart from that one opening Per and Kos showed the quality that gave them 17 clean sheets last season. Let me praise Per in special as after Monaco he was the one in the line of fire of the 30-minutes brigade. Talking about the 30-minutes brigade…what about Monreal?
Wenger has played him as a central defender at the start of the season on a few occasions. Mostly born out necessity because of injuries. But since that he has grown and grown. I admit I thought Gibbs was the better left back at the start of this season. But now I feel that we have two excellent left backs. And the way he finished that goal…. no striker could have bettered that finish. So I am very pleased that Monreal has been able to shut up the 30-minutes brigade. He isn’t flashy, he isn’t the left back that makes you stand on your feet whenever he gets the ball. But he is very reliable and you can see that his confidence is growing and growing. Well done Nacho.
Let talk about our midfield beast. I know he isn’t the mythical defensive midfield beast some (and certainly the 30-minutes brigade) have asked for. Man City was his big test: passed with flying colours. Manchester United was his second big test. Passed with even more flying colours. Even losing his protective mask didn’t hold him back for battling out many a battle with the big lump called Fellaini. 12 direct duels they have fought between each other. Coquelin winning 10 of them! What a beast! Our Coquelin I mean.
The midfield combination of Cazorla and Özil is also growing. When Özil is present Cazorla goes a bit behind him and is more helping out Coquelin. And for a “midget” like Cazorla he sure is a hard battler. He fights and fights and when he gets the ball he turns, turns and turns some more and gets us out of difficult situations by just twisting past his opponents.
Özil was once again very impressive for me. It was his opening that created the first goal. He ran in from the left in space and that dragged the United defenders to the side he was running to. A pass to the Ox who went the other way and dribbled past a few defenders and Monreal did the rest. What I liked in the second half was that when United pressed a bit Özil was there to provide some breathing room for our defenders so they could regroup and get in the right position. Him holding the ball and keeping it in the team is oh so valuable in such moments. He always made himself available in the last 20 minutes so that there always was an option for other players to keep the ball. To do this takes some running but I think we know by now that Özil is not shy of running.
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Our forward line was a line of defence and attack. The fell back deep when United had the ball and then tried to win it back or pressured the United defenders as much as possible. Alexis was close to scoring but his defensive work rate was once again impressive also. The same can be said about the Ox. Working hard for the team and then surging forward and opening space and creating danger at the other half. A good assist by the way to Monreal.
My final words have to go to Dat Guy. Danny Welbeck. Not always lucky in the first half but he never let go and was always working hard for the team. He headed out a few free kicks as he was planted there to do that by Wenger in our defensive line up. He ran the extra mile to keep up the pressure on the defenders and on the keeper. And he had the present of mind to keep his eye open for that moment when United made a mistake at the back. The little nudge on the ball to put it past De Gea and then that open goal mouth waiting for the ball to be put in. I think my heart skipped a few beats and it looked to happen in slow motion but he did it simple: just pass it in the middle of that big open goal.
Welbeck got his personal revenge on Van Gaal who thought he would only be a part time player for United. Meanwhile 350.000£ a week man Falcao was sitting on the United beach. Falcao scored 4 goals for United so far. Danny Welbeck scored 8 goals for Arsenal. Just give Wenger time to work on Welbeck and his number will go up in the next seasons. I remember the disappointment from the 30 minutes brigade when we “only signed Welbeck”. I was happy and I really do think there is more to come from him in the future.
I could go on about Ramsey now but he fitted in perfectly and was always near the ball and involved in attack and defending. Great to have him back and let us hope his hamstring is completely healed now. Giroud also just fitted in when he came on and battled and was involved in a few moves that could have lead to more goals.
Scoring a few more goals would have been sweeter of course. But De Gea (credit where it is due) was once again in fine form and denied us a few more goals. But this was the result of a whole team working very hard to get the result. And I do hope that this team is realising that they are on the brink of writing history for Arsenal. Ending 2 more times 90 minutes on the winning end in the FA cup and each and every player will have his name written on the walls of the Emirates stadium for what could be an historic FA cup win. Let’s do this together!