Góðan daginn Positivistas,
Another Sunday morning, another FA Cup victory to ponder. On seeing the starting line up I admit a little quiver of nervousness crept in. Multiple changes of personnel from what would be regarded as our PL starting eleven at the moment, a start for young Iwobi, two returners from two months out through injury in Alexis and Le Coq, and the debut of a player who no one had heard of five weeks ago. And not just the starts but looking at the bench Mesut and Aaron had been given the weekend off to catch up on those long delayed DIY jobs that had been on their to-do list for months. Yes I felt just a twang of concern.
Needless to say my worry was misplaced and swiftly set aside by a strong opening with Arsenal controlling the ball and pinning back the custard shirted/rhubarb shorted opposition in their own half.
The Ox was at number 10, pulling the strings, constantly busy, running at the opposition, trying to slot THE PASS through to Olivier. Alexis was doing what he does, bouncing like Tigger, after a long sleep. Le Coq showing absolutely no sign of rustiness as far as I could see and the way he was getting stuck into tackles there was no hesitation that can crop up after a player is seriously injured in a challenge. Credit to Iwobi all afternoon who tried to play his game. He is still raw but was not put off by the physical approach of the opposition and the lack of time he was given to play.
On 19 minutes we took control of the tie through Chambers excellent finish that curled into far corner. Any strike with the outside of the boot that beats a keeper from the edge of the box deserves praise and I see in the media we have a multiple Samba theme. I am sure you will all have seen in on television from several angles. The nice thing was the time Callum takes in choosing how to hit the ball, and where to place the shot. That is a really very confident finish from such a young player.
Just after our opener there was a big roar from the Arsenal fans in the West Stand lower as Tomas began to warm up. And picked up round the stadium. He has been away far too long.
There followed another 25 minutes when Burnley, to their credit, did what they had to do and forced their way back into the game. They played two strikers throughout the game and Vokes and Gray were ever eager to pounce on any error along our back line. I was also impressed with Burnley’s centre back by the name of Michael Keane and their full back Darikwa, both comfortable on the ball. As is our style we fell victim to a little carelessness with the ball in defence, and the visitors struck with what was a very good header. As the half finished however we were back in control.
Ten minutes into the second period the tie was effectively over. Having stuck to the job of defending in depth and in numbers Burnley were unable to cope with the speed and movement of first the Ox and then Alexis. The Chilean’s finishing was efficient and unstoppable. Once in front there was no chance of our allowing Burnley back into the game. It would have made life smoother to have converted one of our many chances for a third but Gabriel and Kosc policed Burnley’s strikers carefully and Ospina did not have a busy afternoon. And what our Colombian keeper did have to do, particularly when called on to deal with crosses, he did impeccably I should say.
And so to mention the man we have all been waiting for Mohamed Elneny. I was not sure what to expect and the reports of him being a holding midfield player seemed to be accurate as, in the opening few minutes he and Le Coq both patrolled a narrow corridor in the centre of the pitch. No disrespect to our East Lancashire cousins but that did seem slight overkill. After that little defensive phase however Mo spread his wings and popped up all over the pitch, at various points taking on Ramsey’s job on the right wing. He is a big man, with big hair, who is not going to be easy to knock off the ball. He was calm, he tackled cleanly, he stayed on his feet. We have a BFE I’d say.
Great to meet up yesterday with the chaps.
Enjoy your Sunday, 5th round draw tonight. All the usual suspects are still in it. I fancy a big game.