Top 5 Key Significant Learning Points from Gunners Victory over Sunderland

What did we learn from Saturday?

What did we learn from Saturday?

Well the win over Sunderland was predictable, well, if it wasn’t Arsenal, enjoyable, if it wasn’t Arsenal and thought provoking as Arsenal performances always are. Even the apparently most routine victory, after a first half of taking a deserved lead, following after and preceding total dominance, gave the Arsenal supporters the obligatory period of concern or even panic. Normal service resumed after the Defoe equaliser and the result was ultimately as emphatic as the football played deserved. For that we can be grateful as it is not always the case as we know, but did we learn anything new about this team and their resolve and ability to challenge? I would say yes we did, so here goes:-

  • The much maligned Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, although often as frustrating as he can be exciting is rising to the challenge this season. He knows his position if far from certain but seems to have a new personal resolve that goes beyond bravado and sound-bites. He has added goals of late and whilst his choice of pass and indeed concentration when executing basic passes needs improving, his confidence in taking on a player and his whipped cross for Alexis are attributes no one else gives us.
Captain Gibbo

Captain Gibbo

  • Kieran Gibbs has been loyal, patient and kept his counsel in a frustrating 2 years at Arsenal. We don’t know what discussions he and Wenger had in the summer but already this season he has been given more playing time at left back and the last few weeks have suggested the faith and trust are deserved. He showed maturity and leadership as captain against Reading and was impeccable against Sunderland. As I said last week in this column, Monreal and Gibbs should share the role and selection should be based on the opposition. Gibbs with his extra youth and pace should logically play when the opposition right sided attacking has pace.

'Supporting Arsenal Is A Funny Old Game' by Dave Seager

  • Alex Iwobi has so much ability but his defensive frailties and seeming lack of fitness to last the course of a competitive fixture, make his starting berth vulnerable. If Wenger wants to persist with the lopsided 4231 with 2 playmakers he has a role and offers more vision than Chamberlain or Ramsey but should the emphasis shift he is on dodgy ground. However at his young age overplay can lead to burn out of injuries so tactical rotation and resting for this prodigious talent makes sense anyway.
Can't be the answer week in week out yet

Can’t be the answer week in week out yet

  • Mo Elneny given game time can settle into the team and offer more than ball retention and circulation. The Sunderland match, albeit, without huge precious allowed him to show us he can pass well, not just sideways and backwards but also forwards and incisively. Wenger’s choice for the 2 central midfield berths is exciting and potentially game changing this Arsenal team. It brings to mind the squad of 2003/4 when Vieira, Gilberto, Edu and Parlour shared the two roles. There was no concern from the supporters back then if one of Vieira or Gilberto was not starting because we all knew their replacements did not necessarily weaken the team and added different attributes. What a lovely situation to be in with Xkaka, Elneny, Coquelin, Cazorla and even Ramsey all offering different strengths both individually and as combinations.
Elneny and Giroud both showed they are crucial to the squad

Elneny and Giroud both showed they are crucial to the squad

  • Olivier Giroud is alive, well, kicking and heading. It is fair to say the introduction of the French striker changed the game back in our favour on Saturday. Again though it is about different players bring different attributes and different times. Of course Giroud will hope to regain his starting position but for me I hope he remains a formidable Plan B or a game changer. Playing Alexis centrally has changed the Arsenal dynamic and we are more exciting and crucially unpredictable for it. However there will be times it does not work or teams where a different approach is required and there are few better alternatives than Olivier Giroud.

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Of course there are other interesting points from Saturday but these are the 5 that jumped out to me without getting heavily tactical.

Until next time

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2 Responses to Top 5 Key Significant Learning Points from Gunners Victory over Sunderland

  1. Victor Thompson October 31, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    It is hard to add anything to this article Dave, as I agree with every word of it. however it appears that Arsene has recognised the choice of rotation that he has in midfield now. In his post match interview he said that we play three games a week now and he will have to rotate frequently. That will give every one sufficient game time.

    I would also add that this season, the brand of football we are playing ( apart from the Burnley game when we reverted to walking speed ) is a pleasure to watch. I always have a slightly guilty feeling when I watch Match of the Day and switch off because other teams bore me. Is it narrow minded or is it just that our football is so much more entertaining?

    When we are playing well, the ball moves quickly from player to player and our guys always seem to caress and control the ball with their first touch. Players like Ozil, Sanchez, Cazorla and even Iwobi can change direction with a dip of the shoulder and a feint here, and a feint there, which completely changes the direction of attack. The variety of our passes is greater than any other team and whilst Chelsea were impressive yesterday, as are Liverpool,when breaking at speed, they don`t have the same finesse as Arsenal at their best.

    City are perhaps the closest to us in the sheer beauty of their execution of “The Beautiful Game”. With Guardiola in charge, that is hardly surprising, but if you want to watch good football, right now “We are the Daddy”.

    • Dave Seager October 31, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

      Cheers Vic

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