Who is this team!? Where have Arsenal gone!?

Online Ed: Gunners winning run continues v Leicester

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Ed’s note – I am abroad, five hours behind UK time, so this is a little late today. As I could not catch the game yesterday, my thanks to David Oudôt for filling in for me for the piece on the match against Leicester.

Ten successive wins. For a team that’s very much at the beginning of a big changeover after 22 years of Wengerball, that lost its first two games of the season, and which has been trying to integrate eight new first team players since the turn of the year and is still trying to find out what its best starting eleven is, that is quite an achievement. And not something that has to stop for the sake of it. Another great second half performance featuring two more delicious team goals sees this side seeming only to improve.

An interesting team showed Lichtsteiner starting at left-back despite no news of a Monreal injury, which immediately raised eyebrows all around the ground, and in seeing unused centre-back, Zech Medley, on the bench rather than Kolasinac suggests that the first offer we receive in January will see the not-quite-a-cult-following Serbian leave the Club (the same could also be said of Elneny). Now first-choice-sub Ramsey started on the bench with Aubameyang, with in-form Iwobi and Mkhitaryan playing around skipper-of-the-day, Özil.

Despite being on a great run of form and us being at home to a very inconsistent side, the international break of 15 days since the Fulham game seemed to have done more harm than good with a very slow start. Leicester began their time-wasting shortly after the kick-off (60 seconds to take a corner in the fourth minute of a game? Really?), but pressed on us early with shots on target, two of which brought off very good saves by Leno (whose song should be 90s Dance classic ‘Boom, boom, boom. Let me hear you say ‘Leno’ (‘LENO!’)’), the second being a head-turning reflex save from a textbook downward header fro the beast that is Harry Maguire.

With pressing being a key part of Emery’s game plan as we have seen this season, the defence always looks iffy at times but last night gave one of their best performances so far as whilst the pressing is continuing, when the ball is lost the back four have learned to back track immediately. After 25 minutes there was only one outfield player in our own half as we were attacking, but after losing the ball, the players got back, standing off of the attackers (rather than your standard Mustafi-on-his-arse slide-in), and by the time the attacker in possession was at decision time there were seven in front of him and the ball was suitably disposed of. Sadly, that could not stop us going a goal down as a very mouthy but impressive Chilwell skinned Bellerin and in sending the ball across goal saw it deflect off the right back’s stretched leg to leave Leno stranded. 0-1.

But this is a different Arsenal to the one we’ve seen in recent seasons. The heads didn’t go down on-pitch or in the stands – the game kicked off again with a roar from the Gooners, and the players acting as though nothing happened, and shortly before half-time we saw Özil calmly place a Bellerin cross in off the post to equalise. First half done, and the second half saw the afterburners go on with teamwork akin to the Fulham game producing two delicious goals and Özil very much rising to the occasion.

Whilst Mesut will always have more critics than fans amongst us, when he’s playing like he did against Leicester he’s the man the likes of Ramos, Ronaldo, and Benzema were lamenting Real Madrid’s sale of when we brought him over. The man who can see through balls that the Fifa ’19 version of him on a PS4 couldn’t even imagine. His pass to Bellerin to cross for Aubameyang to stroke home had all of us go “awwwwwwwwwww” and our heads turning to the big screens for replays as soon as possible. But the third was a virtual repeat of Ramsey’s goal against Fulham with dink-dink-dink one touches from Torreira, to Özil, to Guendouzi, Bellerin, an Özil dummy, Lacazette through Özil, and a gorgeous touch across goal for Aubameyang to finish off again.

All in all, another good performance and the times are still-a-changin’, hopefully for the better. Christ, it can’t get much worse than the majority of last season. Thursday will see a mixture of the starters and the bench playing in Lisbon, and the quick turnaround to Selhurst Park on Sunday seeing another group but let’s just hope this continues. To say we were fearing the home game against Liverpool after our losing to Man City and Chelsea is an understatement, but to say we’d be looking forward to it if we manage to win the next two games ahead of it is an even bigger one.

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  1. RobG

    Oct 24, 2018, 19:13 #112462

    Spurs to be joining us in the EL 😳😎

  2. PETER59

    Oct 23, 2018, 20:04 #112461

    Spot on John F. So far teams have tired not able to maintain that level of physical effort , closing us down & feeling we are vulnerable to attack early in the game. The test will come in upcoming games against Liverpool & spurs.If we keep beating teams they will lay off a bit. We are definitely fitter & reaping the benefits in the second half as teams tire. We are also moving the ball quicker especially when we have teams on the rack. Something we generally failed to do in the last 6 or 7 years. Those goals would have not been out of place in the Henry/ Pires / Bergkamp era.

  3. John F

    Oct 23, 2018, 18:49 #112460

    Has anyone got any theory as to why Arsenal struggle in the first 30mins of matches before they turn on the style. Mine is the other teams think we are vulnerable at the back and decide to go full on and then just run out of steam which is when the fitness of the Arsenal players and the clever use of the subs kick in.

  4. GoonerRon

    Oct 23, 2018, 18:20 #112459

    So to the all important question - was Ramsey v Fulham or Auba’s second last night the best team goal?! I think Auba’s (just) - it was just a bit more precise and slicker for me.


    Oct 23, 2018, 18:00 #112458

    Not getting too excited.. but wasn't that second half something? Also I swear the crowd noise was intruding on the match commentary - that's something new. Mustafi good again too!! If only Mesut had that essential "nasty" streak in him ( like Souness who is clearly a fan) what a player he would be. But Dick should take the credit for all this - he has certainly proven that he was the pick of the elite managers that were available this time around.

  6. mbg

    Oct 23, 2018, 17:31 #112457

    Don Howe, excellent post, I was thinking the same myself, it's great to see, they gave as good as they got at times, I especially liked the keep ball bit, take the sting out of it run the clock down if you like especially when Leicester were pushing and threatening, it's safe to say that wouldn't have been the case before with whatshisname we'd have been pushing going all gungho for more goals instead of settling for what we had, and of course we know what the out come would have been, onwards and upwards.

  7. Don Howe

    Oct 23, 2018, 16:18 #112456

    Many of my friends who would have been wholly absent this time last season turned up for this one. Because it's exciting again. We saw Arsenal fight for the ball, foul for the ball if necessary, keep their shape, attack at speed and in numbers, keep the ball and otherwise exhibit professional behaviour. If you had offered me these improvements at the start of the season I would have bitten your arm off. Of course we can't keep it up, for any number of reasons but we have already regained the club's self respect. I can't wait for the next game. Obamawang and La Croissant in the same attack. Five foot six inch Uruguayan pit bull and Sideshow Bob in the midfield. Very exciting. I also saw Ozil run 25 yards to stop a ball going out for a throw. Even he looks interested.

  8. mbg

    Oct 23, 2018, 15:44 #112455

    Yes we're in the beginning of a change over alright, transition, rebuilding (and not before time)and all the rest, and we're still on a ten game run, can we ask for much better, even though we've rode our luck at times, like the first half yesterday, and I don't think there's many of us getting carried away just yet, but if this is the way it is and going to be when we're rebuilding I for one can't wait until he finishes and gets it right. Onwards and upwards.

  9. mbg

    Oct 23, 2018, 14:51 #112454

    Where do you start with one, certainly a game of two halves some are saying it's the best game yet under Unai, second half certainly, first ? woeful it reminded me of the bad old days under whatshisname, all over the place, big improvements needed and fast, but lets not take away from the second half, great display, i'd love to know what Unai says or does in his half time team talks kicks arses i'd imagine but it obviously works, some great football with great moves, great all round display.

  10. ClockEnd_90

    Oct 23, 2018, 13:54 #112453

    So what if Leicester had chances? You can't irradicate the opposition having chances. The fact is we thoroughly deserved to win after weathering an early storm. Some of the football we played in the second half surpassed what Mr Wenger could produce, even - dare I say it - in his pomp! Okay, I was watching on telly but it seemed like the Emirates was at it's noisiest for a league match in a long, long while too.

  11. The Man From UNCLE

    Oct 23, 2018, 13:28 #112452

    Good win but don't forget Leicester hitting the bar when it was still 1-1, and yes Holding can count himself a lucky boy......BUT.........a few more results like this and maybe we will do a Leicester 2015/16 ourselves this time out. Bin Dippers and Spuds games will tell us all we need to know.

  12. RobG

    Oct 23, 2018, 13:07 #112451

    Hmmmm....Holding very lucky - 1/ Not to concede a penalty and 2/ Not to have been sent off as it would have been a second booking. I doubt if we would have won so comfortably with ten men for most of the match. Great second half. But the first appeared abject and we were really fortunate to go in level. Still we must be doing something right although the forthcoming double header against the Scoucers and our near neighbours, will be much more revealing. If we win those two - we really are flying. If.....

  13. GoonerRon

    Oct 23, 2018, 12:54 #112450

    The change in mentality seems to be bedding in. Go a goal down - don’t let our heads drop, go ahead - don’t **** our pants, over commit and concede silly goals. It’s slightly strange how we have consistently started slowly, that’s definitely something to work on, but our second halves have looked turbo-charged. We seem fitter and are applying a dose of common sense to our play (only 5 players attacking for our third goal so we didn’t over commit). Two very steady games in a row from Mustafi - that’s new territory for us. Mkhitaryan has fluffed his lines with his last two starts - a front 4 of Auba, Özil, Iwobi and Laca should materialise. Ozil giving us a few moments of utter gorgeousness, helped by far more purposeful off-the-ball running from Bellerin. Loving this run, loving it.