Call it sexy football and you won’t be mistaken.
Monday night in north London, Arsenal defeated Leicester City 3-1 to go above Tottenham into 4th, levelled on point with 3rd Chelsea and just two point behind league leaders, Man City.
Here are my four takes from the win.
– The Mesut Ozil Show
Just as Emery was pondering his options and composing his half-time team talk, Arsenal equalised from their first incisive passing move of the night. Ozil dribbled forward through the centre, slipped in the overlapping Bellerin and arrived in the box to provide a typically delicate finish with his left foot, deftly steering the ball in off the far post. Suddenly, it was a different game, a different tactical battle. Suddenly, there was no need to panic. Suddenly, it was The Mesut Ozil Show.
This was, slightly surprisingly, only Ozil’s second start in his favoured No10 role
Ozil is more of a pure No. 10. But in the second half, he set about proving he can play the role Emery wants, turning matches in Arsenal’s favour with two pieces of magic.
Arsenal’s second goal arrived, like the first, from Ozil combining with Bellerin — whose overlapping runs have been the most consistent tactical feature of the Gunners’ play under Emery.
There was the left-sided duo of Chilwell and Maddison, and also the left-centre duo of Jonny Evans and Ndidi. Between them was around seven yards of space, and Ozil slipped the ball perfectly through that gap, his left-footedness ensuring the ball curled into the path of the overlapping Bellerin. His task was easy, squaring the ball into the six-yard box for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who converted with practically his first touch.
– Sluggish Start To Games Needs Working Upon
For the seventh league game in a row, Arsenal drew the first half and won the second half, and if anything, this was an even starker contrast than ever: outplayed before half-time by a Leicester side who surprised them tactically, then genuinely sensational from 40 minutes onwards, almost solely courtesy of Mesut Ozil’s best performance under Emery, in his first-ever game as Arsenal’s captain. But first, Arsenal’s struggled.
In the coming weeks, Arsenal will be up against Liverpool, who might punish the team if the sluggish start to games continues. A quick improvement is surely needed in that area.
– Emery’s Tactics And Willingness At Wanting More
As the game approached half-time, this looked like being Emery’s first serious tactical test as Arsenal manager. His side were being completely outplayed by weaker opposition, using a shape he wouldn’t have anticipated. How would he reshape? Do Arsenal have the capability to revert to the three-man defence they used this time last season under Wenger? Should he start by introducing Aaron Ramsey to burst forward from deep or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as a second striker? Should he keep Ozil, anonymous thus far, as the No. 10?
Well, aside Emery’s sub of Aubameyang and Guendouzi, Ozil happened too. He contributed everywhere down the spine of the pitch, acting as No. 8, a No. 10 and perhaps a No. 6 at the start of the move too.
This was Arsenal’s No. 10 — their 10th win a row — and felt like the most significant. A fine atmosphere, a confident comeback, a starring performance from their most talented player.
Emery, though, opened his postmatch news conference by reiterating that Arsenal “need to continue improving in every match in the first 10 to 15 minutes, when we are suffering more than we want.” Supporters will go home delighted, but Emery, ever the perfectionist, still wants more.
– Torreira and Stability.. Apt
Is it too early to say Torreira is N’Golo Kante with a less happy face and better technical ability? What a signing he’s already become.
Lucas Torreira vs Leicester City
91% pass accuracy
1 dribble won
2 tackles won
3/4 accurate long balls
7/12 duels won
Already bossing that midfield. Superb player. He will become one of the best midfielders in the EPL within the next two years.
Everyone deserves a mention but you know, it’d take all of my time.
Back on Thursday as we are away to Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League, but before then I am in Asaba, Delta State for the Aiteo Cup final, who is ready to host me??.
YaGunnersYa… COYG. Twitter is @MikeThePundit