There is no better way to build confidence, for this weekend’s match against Chelsea, than there was Wednesday night. We set up exactly how we should be setting up to take advantage of the assets at our disposal, in this squad’s case that’s pace. Alexis, Welbeck and Chamberlain all being fed by Ozil. As we saw against Villa, you put Ozil more central and surrounded by pace then he will thrive and dictate play.
We all knew Danny Welbeck is quick but the other night he showed how quick he really is. His sudden acceleration, and his finishing, are very reminiscent of a certain Thierry Henry. I’m not comparing the two players directly, but the way he finished and shaped up his body and the sudden electrifying burst of pace was something we haven’t really seen since the king. Some may argue the Theo comparisons but he doesn’t have the hold up or back to the goal ability of Welbeck.
Wenger did what only Wenger would do and that was make a baffling positional choice for Cazorla. He started him central in the deeper role next to Flamini. Now against Galatasary it worked, due to the way the formation they played and how poor they were in general, but against a team like Chelsea it will fail.
When you play against Chelsea, they will bully and pressure you into having no space and then take the ball from you in midfield. That’s where we need a strong combative midfielder. Do we have one? No. But we have a Diaby… He’ll be our only real hope in that position against Chelsea, alongside Arteta or Flamini. But I’ll touch more on that when I do the Chelsea preview.
Danny Welbeck’s first two goals were taken calmly after being played through into space by Alexis. Just before his run into the space, he signals to Alexis where he wants it played, a quick burst of pace saw him past the defender to slot home.
The second goal was the one that caught everyone’s attention. Another quick burst of pace, after knocking the ball down, leaving his marker treading water, then finishing with the technique and style that Arsenal fans have long associated to Thierry Henry.
Felipe Melo, a player we once looked at when he played for Fiorentina. How he was not sent off for a clear two footed lunged at Alexis Sanchez is anybody’s guess. Both feet were off the floor and he was not in control of his actions. He got all the player and no ball, but got away with a yellow card.
There were also the usual antics, of complete imbeciles, that come with playing a team from the Turkish leagues. The Galatasary fans lit flares they managed to sneak into the stadium, probably up their arris, and then even threw them onto the pitch. Disgraceful behaviour and how they are allowed to keep getting away with their behaviour in Europe is a joke. The club should be either kicked out of the competition and banned or forced to play with no travelling fans. Sneijder, was the only player who did the decent thing, went over to their fans and gestured to them to please calm down and cease causing trouble.
Alexis had the last laugh though by bagging the third goal of the night before half time. Mertesacker broke up a Galatasary attack and played the ball to Chamberlain who fed Ozil in midfield who in turn sent Alexis in behind. Welbeck was available for a pass, to complete his first half hat-trick, but the Chilean went alone and fired the ball into the bottom corner.
Not long after half time we managed to make it 4-0 and Welbz completed his first career hat-trick. He also became Arsenal’s first English player to score a hat-trick in the competition and third player overall. The other two? Henry and……Bentdtner.
We were on cruise control as we looked to see out a comfortable win. But Szczesny had other ideas. A ball to Yilmaz saw him clean through on goal, the keeper had no choice but to come out, but he had left it too late. Yilmaz touched the ball round the keeper and contact was unavoidable, as Szczesney pulled his hands back, and went down. For me, this is where the rules need to be looked at again as a red card, for an unavoidable challenge from a keeper, and a penalty is too harsh. Unless it’s for violent conduct, of course. I believe it should be a yellow and a penalty. This meant we had to substitute Alexis off for Ospina, who has now had to face two penalties in two games in his first two appearances for the club. They scored.
The wind was now in their sails but Ospina kept us in the game with a string of fantastic saves. The main thing that Ospina needs to work on is his communication with his back four, as it caused him to flap at some crosses due to being unaware of what his defenders were doing. I’m sure that will come with confidence he’ll build with playing more with the team. There was one save that he seemed to just hang in the air for ages.
We wrapped up the game 4-1 against a very poor side. Take nothing away from our team though as they performed extremely well. Chelsea will be a whole other matter though and hopefully we adapt our lineup and tactics to suit. But we all know we probably won’t.