A little glow of satisfaction this morning I am sure warming us as we go about our daily chores as a result of last night’s events. I admit after Saturday’s disappointment and bad luck at the Hawthorns I was a little worried we would take the field under a cloud and take time to get going. The ‘cloud’ such as it was lasted all of five minutes. After that clear skies and warm sunshine.
Not just a satisfactory result, but a night on which our players showed what they can do with the ball, and just as importantly without the ball, to take apart Zagreb. I see the stats of possession on arse.com split the game just 53/47% in our favour. I don’t care, our 53% was twice as good as their 47%.
3-0 was, in my view, probably a slightly generous score to the Croatians given the balance of the contest. If we had knocked in five or six it might have better reflected our dominance.
I hardly need to point out our top performers in Alexis and Ozil, both superb even by their own lofty standards, but sound performances all over the pitch. ‘PROFESSIONAL’ that’s what we were last night ‘PROFESSIONAL’. The much derided Flamini bossed the centre of the park and I have noticed, whisper it quietly, he no longer gets booked every game. He may be 31 years old but he is an intelligent player who still is learning and adapting his game. If you keep fit and continue to keep your aggression under control Matty you have a long run in the side in front of you.
Talking of ‘much derided’ wasn’t Joel Campbell good last night ? Best game I have seen him for us, playing with real confidence in his touch and in taking on opposition players. His good effort provides Arsene with a bit of dilemma for Carrow Road on Sunday as to who to start on the right.
And Aaron ? Good to see him back and getting 25 minutes of action under his belt.
For our visitors a torrid evening but far play to them, they cracked but never shattered. The main reason we did not get to five or six was a top performance from keeper Eduardo, another gloved guardian who can look back on a good night at the Ems. 16 shots on target – that is busy !
So where does this leave us ?
With our fate very much in our own hands for what will be a HELL of a night in Piraeus on Wednesday the 9th. The killer issue for us is scoring goals. The question for the Greeks is whether to stick or twist. Intriguing, and I trust we will be getting UEFA’s top, top referee, for he will be in for a busy night. More of a steep hill than a mountain, but eminently conquerable if we show the same attitude from the first minute as was on display last night.
Enjoy your Wednesday and we shall meet later in the week.