Good morning Positive Arsenalists.
Another grey morning over Norfolk but a familiar sensation of satisfaction as an Arsenal fan still lingers after last night’s game in the North West.
Yes, yes I know we were pretty dire in the first half. The home side rushed into us with great energy and not a little skill at times and made us look a bit little silly. On several occasions they opened up our defence in a manner only PSG had done previously this season. When we did have the ball some of our passing and efforts to use possession constructively were discomforting to watch, so inept was the outcome. I see even Arsene said the only positive was that it was only 1-0 as the players went down the half time tunnel. He knows, you know.
I have no real understanding of what was going on in our players’ heads during the opening 45. I can only point to the lack of experience of Rambo, Xhaka, Mustafi and Gabby + the youngster AMN, in actually playing together before, that might explain the spaces and gaps that Preston were allowed. Why we seemed unable to hit an accurate 5 yard pass I don’t know, but let us not dwell too deeply. One interesting point was that in spite of the difficulties we had there was no rowing between the players, everyone just got on with the game. No Sanchez=no scrapping (perhaps) !
HOWEVER whatever the reason for that collective early confusion, after the break we turned out as a team transformed. I have no idea if the manager stamped his foot, or Steve Bould identified and corrected the tactical defensive mistakes that had disrupted us. Whatever switch had been flicked however after Mr Madeley blew his whistle Preston were hardly in the game again. Our defence became resolute, our passing text book Wengerball. After peppering our goal in the first half they created nothing in the second, with Ospina a spectator. The home side adopted the posture of a boxer pushed back around the ring by jabs, short straight punches and the occasional hook, backed into the corner and, eventually, floored. As with so many things in football however the timing of our equaliser, with Preston minds still not focussed on the pitch, was crucial. Lovely goal from Rambo, lovely set up by Iwobi.
For the remainder of the second half it was increasingly desperate defence by the home side and, to their credit, their defenders were well organised and flung their bodies in again and again to block shots, headers and deny our clever flicks and short passing. The home crowd roared them on, a replay at the Ems a tasty prize if they could just cling on. As our hosts energy gradually drained however, up stepped Larry. Ah Larry, a performer, a worker, a leader. A man who recently has been the decisive weapon, and yesterday he put the blade through Preston hearts.
It had to be, it was Fate.
Of our lads I thought Perez, Larry, the Ox and Iwobi stood out. Aaron’s goal was excellent and he stamped his authority on the second half, an intelligent game from the Welshman. AMN was getting some stick but I though he did fine, as did all the back 4 after their early discombobulation.
Of Preston? Their central defender Clarke and their winger and goalscorer Robinson were good. With the transfer window open you could see the national limelight probably inspired a few of them to greater heights.
No complaints about Madeley last night – 7/10.
The third round of the Cup safely negotiated and a lazyish Sunday in prospects with our fingers crossed in the hope of some embarrassment for Tottingham or Chels. It would be a big turn up if either gave up their Wembley ambitions but that is the magic of the Cup isn’t it – that little spark of hope?
Finally while I had a good day yesterday others may have enjoyed 3rd round day even more:
Lovely story, enjoy your Sunday.
(opening photo by @rebeccaherber44 – good innit?)