Good Morning Positive Arsenal,
And how are each of you this fine Wednesday morning ?
Quite chipper I’d guess !
I suspect a lot of you, endured the fluctuations of technology while watching last night’s game, with streams coming and going, and providing a timely reminder of what reliable and comprehensive football coverage provides us. We may despise those damned TV corporations, bloodsuckers, leeches etc, but if that is the alternative their business model is safe for the foreseeable future.
Having dealt with that broadcasting foible a thoroughly enjoyable game took place. Our line up provoked a predictable mix of enthusiasm tinged with caution, with the mix of new faces, old’ish hands and promotions from the youngsters, and even in those promotions the position of Maitland-Niles at right back was a surprise to me. Perhaps the boldest initiative was the bench, with six teenagers in situ. As George said last night with a bench like that the Arsenal game plan is “shit or bust”.
Of the game itself and how these Wengerian schemes might work, or not perhaps? To quote Brian Clough “We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right” and so Wenger’s selections and team set up proved that managerial aphorism almost perfectly, with Granit thumping in the first goal just 3 minutes shy of Old Big Head’s proposed schedule. Stand off the player 30 yards out and you will be punished. Did no one at Forest watch the Hull game ?
It is so, so important if you have a mix of young and experienced players that that first goal. After it went in we relaxed and every player had a little more confidence on the ball. Equally after a decent start Forest deflated after going a goal behind, the crowd noise sagged, the night for the home side slowly began to unravel. Very much a contrast to events at Hillsborough in our previous League Cup game.
Having gone ahead Forest kept up their end until half time, with a number of agricultural challenges that on another night might have led to greater official retribution. Martinez was never really troubled once week ahead. NF had one genuinely good player in Pereira, I thought. The rest were worker bees, willing but limited.
As a result, and as you saw, in the second 45 we strolled through the game. I was pleased to see Perez assert himself with a good aggressive goal. It is a long time since I have seen a centre back bullied off the ball like that. I thought his penalty was good as well. Almost like he practiced putting it beyond the keeper and into the corner !
Goal four for the Ox rounded off the evening, good for him and a boost to his still fragile confidence. His passing in the first half was, to put it bluntly, on occasions “wild”. A deep breath required young man.
All round a thoroughly competent performance. Young players all gained valuable experience, Elneny and Xhaka proving a cameo of an alternative high quality midfield pairing, Perez showed he is more than happy to “do it” on a Tuesday night in Nottingham. And NO injuries. Now that is a bonus.
Given it was the 12th anniversary of the death of Mr Clough I thought I would close with a second quote from that gentleman, made on the day the Invincibles passed the Forest unbeaten League record;
“I’m loath to confess they could be as good as us. They are brilliant. It sticks in the craw a little bit because nobody likes Arsenal! Of course there’s a Frenchman in charge, Wenger, and not many English people like Frenchmen. He is a top, top manager”
Enjoy the midweek. We have work on Saturday to look forward to.