I was delighted by the result against Spurs and especially the manner of the victory. A bonus for me was that one of the Spurs players I cannot stand lived up to his name – and that was Dier. He scored first for them, but after that he spent most of his time chasing shadows and he was directly responsible for two of our goals. Perhaps the best thing to enjoy though, was after the brawl, which he instigated. Our new team spirit was evident when Rambo and Liechsteiner wearing their subs aprons joined in to repel Sissoko, Ali & Co. Dier turned back from taunting the Arsenal fans and singled out Ramsey by gesturing to him and mouthing “now go back and sit on the bench”.
Perhaps Unai heard him because he brought Rambo on and he proceeded to take Dier apart.
Time and again he skipped past Dier and slipped quick incisive passes to Lacazette, Auba and Bellerin, ably supported by Xhaka and Torreira. We were treated to beautiful one-twos` ala Wishire/Ramsey/Ozil ( when he was on fire ) and Santi the like of which have recently been few and far between. Our forwards played to a rythm which was far too slick and versatile for him, and his companions around him were too overwhelmed to assist him.
Those were the abiding memories I had after the dust had settled but there were other things which stood out;- Leno made a mistake for the first goal and let the ball slip through his fingers, but afterwards made at least two outstanding saves. His distribution and general way of playing the ball out is now well established and makes him well ahead of czech now. The defenders have now got the hang of playing with him and it was noticeable that when he got the ball one or more of them would look for a position to receive a pass from him.
Mustafi seems to be keeping his urges to make howlers under restraint and his physicality was well used when needed. Xhaka too has learned how to use his muscle in tackles without fouling the other player although he did get one yellow card near the end. Kolisinak was once again full of running and supporting the forwards. He too contributed to the steel in the team and Bellerin was back to his imperious best combining his defensive duties with devastating runs down the wing.
Auba terrified their whole defence and his runs behind and along the line of their defence drew Dier and co. out of position and left gaps for Ramsey, Bellerin, Torreira and Xhaka to thread passes through. Lacazette was superb. His first touch is sublime and he is also mobile but smoother than Auba and he turned their defenders inside out.
All of the above was done against the background of Spurs destruction of Chelsea. There is no doubt that that performance was their best this year and it certainly left me in trepidation for what might be the fate in store for us. I needn`t have worried. Our run of 19 games unbeaten was never in danger. Even when we fell behind against the run of play, we were dominating the play and at one point sky`s analysis showed our possession was 75%. It was no fluke. The media is full of praise for the red-blooded commitment of both teams, but there is no doubt that we matched Spurs in every department and outclassed them in the quality of our football.
In this form, we have nothing to fear from Man Utd. so roll on tomorrow night.
A sophisticated, articulate Arsenal Man of Mystery. Aged 70 and a bit.