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Arsenal 1 Spurs 1: The tale of two star signings


FUNNY game this. Just when you thought we’d finally got our act together after a pretty poor first half, some sloppy play allowed Spurs to take advantage and we were a goal down.

Credit to them, they forced the mistake in much the same way Tomas Rosicky so memorably dispossessed Danny Rose in the FA Cup encounter back in January. But it was still a poor goal from our perspective. The moment Per Mertersacker looked up to give Matthieu Flamini that pass, I was fearful. It is precisely because Mikel Arteta is measurably better than Flamini in those positions that he is in the team and Flamini isn’t. The fairly predictable happened and we were a goal down.

We came back and merited an equaliser but couldn’t find a winner. I think a slightly more coherent Arsenal side would probably have been less easily thrown off course by the series of substitutions, injuries, cramp and general time-wasting that seemed to move the game from 75 minutes to 83 minutes without anything actually happening.

Truth be told, this posed as many questions as answers. We elected to leave out our best player of the season at the expense of our best player for one game. And then when we did introduce Sanchez, everybody looked a little clueless about where they were meant to be. I’m forever hearing that so and so’s best position is behind the striker, but from where I was sitting it appeared Sanchez, Ozil and Cazorla were all intent on making a particular six foot square patch of grass out by the left wing their own. A little bizarre.

This was my first opportunity to see Welbeck in person and you know what, he was better than Sanogo and not as good as Giroud. Which is basically pretty much what I’d assumed. So there were some moments of real quality early on, but equally he didn’t lead the line like Giroud would have.

I had to chuckle at myself when, in the midst of the attacking midfielder orgy that was unfolding before us, it did cross my mind that what we could really do with at that point was Sanogo coming on causing some of his Wembley style havoc.

One thing I have noticed is that Mesut Ozil appears to have the footballistic equivalent of what in England is called a Grade 1 listed building status. What that means is the building can’t be got rid of or altered and Ozil can’t be dropped or subbed. Of course, Ozil has been subbed plenty of times previously, but when it came to predicting who Sanchez would replace, it was pretty much agreed it wouldn’t be Ozil for no other reason that Wenger wouldn’t take Ozil off.

Look, I think the guy is obviously hugely talented and I’m well prepared to acknowledge that when you measure what a player such as him brings to a team, not all of it is blindingly obvious stuff that hits you in the face like a Thierry Henry piledriver. Surely we’re past the stage when it can be argued Ozil’s brilliance is such mere mortals such as me can’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, he put in a half decent second half performance, but it did feel distinctly like he was feeding off the energy of those around him (Cazorla in particular), rather than being the driving force himself.

The league season itself is hurtling towards a bit of a pinch point: next Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Ozil v Fabregas. Interesting.


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