‘Nacho’ Typical November…
After three straight draws the Gunners finally registered their eighth league win of the season. Steve Cook’s calamitous back pass allowed Alexis Sanchez to break free and calmly slot the ball past the onrushing Adam Federici. A slightly fortuitous start for the Arsenal but even still, this was by no means an easy victory.
It wasn’t long before the Cherries were level, Callum Wilson leveled from the spot after being brought down by a clumsy Nacho Monreal. Some argued it was not the clearest of penalties but here is how I see it. If you raise your arms into an unnatural position, make contact with the striker who has managed to get the wrong side of you and fail to make any contact with the ball the referee has every right to point to the spot.
It’s not the first time Nacho has found himself in this kind of situation and his recent performances are nowhere the levels he reached last season. Perhaps it’s time Kieran Gibbs got the run of games his patience has deserved.
The Bournemouth equalizer seemed to turn the tide and Eddie Howe’s side grew in confidence. They are a side that play the game in the right way and deserve a lot of credit for their ‘ballsy’ approach. It’s not very often you see the so called ‘smaller’ teams come to the Emirates and play expansive, attacking football in search of all three points.
Bournemouth spurned two good opportunities to take the lead when Adam Smith headed over and Brad Smith’s shot was saved by Petr Cech. Alexis Sanchez fired a shot from a tight angle just on the stroke of half time which he saw crash off the bar.
The Gunners lead was restored on 53 minutes when Theo Walcott ‘rose like a salmon’ and headed home a Nacho Monreal cross. By no means an unlikely goal scorer but let’s just say it’s not the type of goal you associate with Theo. The England forward, whose wife gave birth to their second child this week registered his eight goal of the season and continues to impress back out on the right.
The man of the moment Senor Monreal almost conceded a second penalty of the afternoon when he appeared to handle Simon Francis’ pass. I think it’s clear that it wasn’t intentional but when your arms are dangling all over the place you’re just giving the referee an opportunity to call it. Bournemouth will feel hard done by, particularly with that decision and who can blame them.
Thankfully, Ozil, Giroud and Sanchez combined in the 91st minute to seal the points and ensure Arsenal moved to within three points of the top spot.
Hardly a spectacular performance but there were signs, flashes if you like that Arsenal are beginning to click again. There’s been a real lack of creativity lately and Arsene has struggled to find the right balance in the middle of the park. Granit Xhaka impressed in the second half and made a real claim for a place in the side at West Ham this weekend.
Having not won in three games, it was imperative we took all three points yesterday all be it under slightly fortunate circumstances. I still don’t know who our best XI is and the midfield area concerns me. With Santi missing we struggle to find the right balance at times and our fluency has suffered as a consequence.
The sooner we get Hector Bellerin back the better, it was a real shame to see Debuchy limp off so early on but throwing him in after so long on the sidelines always had an associated risk. One thing is clear, neither Carl Jenkinson nor Gabriel are competent enough in that role and the absence of our marauding right back weakens us defensively and offensively.
The good news is, November is over and we survived it without defeat.
Despite a number of changes from the PSG game midweek the team achieved the desired result, demonstrating the strength in depth we now posses among this current crop of players
There is plenty of football to be played and there is no reason why Arsenal can’t mount a serious title challenge. December, arguably the most challenging month of the Premier League season is around the corner and we will need to utilize all of our squad to avoid a case of burnout.