As we discussed yesterday, the weekends result was not a catastrophe. As Manchester City dropped points once more (now 5 games without a win in all competitions), it meant Arsenal did no lose any ground in the title race.
A result like this has been coming. We got lucky against Burnley, and Swansea were well worth a point.
The Premier League is the most competitive league in the world. The top end might not be as superior as the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but no other league in Europe, or the world, has the depth that the Premier League has.
In the current top 10, only 2 sides picked up 3 points at the weekend – Chelsea & Liverpool. Everyone else dropped points.
We will drop more points this season, it is going to be a rollercoaster. It is tight at the top.
Tight at the top
That is what separates Manchester City at the top of the league and Tottenham in 5th (unbeaten yet 5th. AHAHAHA). The fact that 4 different sides could have topped the league at points this week, depending on goals scored, shows just how tight it is.
Spurs were the first to miss out, drawing 0-0 at Bournemouth. Arsenal then topped the league by a point after the goalless draw with Middlesbrough. A late consolation goal for WBA was all that stopped Liverpool going top, and then Man City came from behind against Southampton to snatch a point to finish the weekend how they started, top.
With Chelsea’s result over Man U, this league looks to be anyone’s for the taking. Except for Man U’.
The leagues breakthrough star. If he was English or played for Liverpool or Spurs, the hype around this kid would be ridiculous. Luckily for him he declared for Nigeria and he has at Arsenal. Who the media hate.
He has been superb this season, but he now needs to be taking out of the limelight a bit.
At the weekend, he started off brightly, but quickly faded, to a point where in the 2nd half, he saw barely any of the ball. We were carrying him. For the good of the team, for the good of himself, he needs a little break. Just a couple of games, nothing too much, let him re-charge the batteries, work on his game, and come back stronger.
Arsenal’s biggest weakness is down our left at the moment. And his lack of cover for Nacho Monreal is causing a few problems.
On to Nacho Monreal. He had another poor game, beaten all too easy, time and again, by Adama Traore.
He could do with some help from the aforementioned Alex Iwobi, but the reality is he is getting beat fair to easily in one on ones.
Whilst Iwobi could do a better job tracking back, very rarely this season has Monreal been caught in a 2 on 1 situation on the left hand side. The majority of the time he has been beat, it has been in one on one situations where he has either got too tight and been turned, or not got tight enough and the winger has just pushed the ball past him and ran.
To keep improving as a side, every year your weakest link in the first 11 should be replaced. At the moment the weakest link in Nacho Monreal.
I have seen a lot of chatter since the Boro result about Arsene Wenger deciding to pair Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny together in the middle of the park. Why did we start with two DMs? Was the question continually asked.
Well, Santi Cazorla was injured, Aaron Ramsey also out, and Jack Wilshire currently on loan at Bouremouth. We did not exactly have many other options.
We could have maybe put Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the middle of the park, but that would have been a bit of a risk. The majority of the time in his career he has played on the wing, and when he has been in the middle, it tends to be in the Number 10 role, behind a striker, further up the pitch.
Playing The Ox deeper would have been a risk, especially considering the poor form he has been in.
I think Wenger got the team right. Coquelin held, whilst Elneny got forward.
Elneny is not a pure defensive midfielder. He can play. He can create. He is box to box. He is a good player with exceptional passing.
What the weekend showed is how much influence Santi Cazorla has from deep. His two footedness opens up both sides of the pitch. And his passing – short and long – is superior to Elneny. But it is also superior to Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey & Jack Wilshere.
The team we put out at the weekend should have been good enough to beat Boro, but they defended well, and the Premier League is ultra competitive, shown by only 2 sides in the top 10 winning.
On to Reading.