Well, that was an afternoon full of drama. Aubameyang dropped for disciplinary reasons, Arsenal hit the woodwork twice and spurned another four of five opportunities to score before Son pulled up with a hamstring injury. Not sure how though because he and his teammates barely broke into a jog. They really were dreadful, negative and extremely defensive. Lamela came on from the bench to score what was a excellent goal. Mikel Arteta will be disappointed with the defending though. Arsenal equalised through Martin Ødegaard and in the second half, Pepe played a superb ball through to Lacazette. He sliced his shot, Sanchez crashed into him sending him flying and Michael Oliver blew his whistle and pointed to the spot immediately. Up stepped our captain on the day, to send Lloris the wrong way. Excellent penalty. Arsenal were in the lead.
I thought we played well. We pressed high, got stuck in and did a lot of things well. ESR hit the crossbar from distance before cutting the ball back to Lacazette only he fluffed his shot wide. Then we were hit in typical Mourinho style. Against the run of play and rather fortunate. Yes Lamela’s strike was rather spectacular but on another day, who knows where that would have ended up but if you try, you never know.
Arsenal hit the woodwork again, this time it was Cedric. He hit the ball so crisply, had it have gone in it would have been pretty special. Especially as a Toots player was on his heels at the time of striking. Just before halftime, we scored. Tierney the provider from our left, Ødegaard with the finish. Oh how I loved seeing Alderweireld deflect the shot past his own keeper.
Saka was replaced by Pepe at halftime. Hopefully just precautionary because yet again he seemed to have a ‘kick me’ label stuck to his back. Pepe’s ball to Lacazette which led to the penalty was perfect. What happened next you already know.
The next big moment came when Lamela caught Tierney in the face with his elbow. Only he knows whether it was intentional or not but clearly Michael Oliver thought it was reckless. I thought a red card was coming out of his pocket but it was yellow. Regardless, he was off for a second booking. Mourinho’s reaction was priceless. Kane’s ‘challenge’ on Gabriel should have seen him punished too. We’ve seen similar go on before to both Holding and Debuchy only their season was finished because of it.
With ten men, Toots became more adventurous in attack but then being behind, they had little to lose. That was probably Mourinho’s plan all along. Knowing we’d been on the road in Europe, go for win when our player’s legs were tired. Kane had a goal rightly ruled out for offside. He hit the post from a free kick before Gabriel headed away the follow up shot from Sanchez.
Arsenal held on though to secure the victory.
So, we finally saw Arsenal cut out the confusion over playing out from the back which we’ve witnessed in the last two or three games. However, what crept into the game towards the end of the game was fouls, far too many of them in dangerous areas. I think the players were knackered and nervous, they panicked but for the right reasons if that makes sense. They just didn’t want to concede but what they were doing is presenting Toots with too many opportunities to equalise. The more games we win, I think the nervy moments will disappear.
I thought Saka, ESR, Tierney and Ødegaard were really good. Tierney and ESR down our left we’re excellent and the Toots right back struggled all match. Ødegaard seems to improve game by game. For such a slight guy, he holds the ball up really well.
In fact there’s not one player who stood out for the wrong reasons.
Arsenal, Mikel Arteta and the fans needed that performance and the victory over Mourinho and the Toots. Now it’s back to the Europa League. Another performance like yesterday and we should be through. At least if we were to draw the Toots in the next round, we know how to beat them.
See you in the comments.