Arsenal 6-1 Southampton: We don’t replace we reinvent
The short report
They questioned the source of goals, the quality of the squad and direction of the team. Having drawn the opening two games, the media felt vindicated by a rather simplistic analysis that focused on the loss of one key player. But Arsenal are reorganised through Bould, replenished by Wenger, grown through progression of youth and reinvented this time in the form of Gervinho as centre forward.
Abou Diaby not unsurprising picked up a knock on a knee to rule him out, following a big performance at Liverpool I was keen to see how he would fair against lesser opposition at home and whether we’d see consistency and focus.
Francis Coquelin would be his deputy, but not a stylistic replacement. Francis would play deeper and allow Arteta to venture forward to make the plays as we saw for Gervinho’s goal. Perhaps that was the right selection regardless of injury with big games forthcoming and Coquelin who had yet to feature eager for playing time.
Gervinho was the surprise selection as centre forward even though there has been talk of both Gervinho and Walcott training centrally during pre-season. Kudos goes to @arsenalcolumn for flagging that one pre kick-off on Twitter. It would seem Wenger’s philosophy is ‘pick your best players consistency in their best positions’.
Player watch: Chamberlain
He develops right in front of your eyes. The cameo man has long gone and we now have someone whom Wenger entrusts to play back-to-back matches, moreover England are backing him too. He just looks so comfortable on the ball wherever he picks up the play and his actions are always forward thinking. A get at them style in contrast to the incision offered by Cazorla and Arteta. He likes to drive and hit and was unlucky not to walk away with a goal or two himself. Just sense he is going to grow and grow month by month.
Man of the match: Gervinho
Gervinho didn’t exactly grab the headlines as such but his contribution in his new role was hugely noteworthy and significant in the potential game play and options Wenger deploys from here on in. Arsene noted he made the decision to switch Gervinho centrally whilst on tour and it’s a decision that in retrospect has many merits:
- New lease of life for a player demoted behind Podolski
- Adds options and numbers to the forward ranks
- Adds pace through the middle, and within the front 3
- Podolski featuring left keeps one of our best players in his favoured role and one that in addition brings good shape defensively when he tracks back.
Although Gervinho was deployed through the middle he didn’t limit his movement, for his goal he drifted to the right and played on the shoulder of the defence, whilst there were occasions too where Gervinho popped up on the left by-line for a trademark pull back.
Kieran Gibbs – Created two own goals with raids deep down Southampton’s left flank.
Podolski – Unstoppable free kick - pleasing to see we’ve replaced that attribute.
Arteta – Pass for Gervinho’s first was so well weighted it didn’t require a touch before Gervinho smashed home.
Cazorla – Fabulous
Szczesny – Kicking was poor on several occasions and dropped a clanger that directly led to a consolation strike. No room for such errors next week at Man City.
The final word:
Gervinho as a forward option is a significant move and one that has paid dividends on first trial. In scoring six the confidence should rightly be flowing as the top four already has a seemingly familiar feel after just four games, I expect that four to romp clear of the rest and I don’t feel we’re just making up forth here. We’re right in the mix. Just how far we have come will be tested with a trip to champions Manchester City next week. Wenger has clearly firmly pinned Podolski wide left and Cazorla in the hole in move to seemingly establish patterns of play and team shape – those are the pinnacle players now. Here’s hoping for a fit Diaby and Anfield repeat at the Etihads.