I hate to remind readers about what I dared to write at the beginning of the season, but I feel I must. I had the temerity to suggest that man for man, Arsenal are a better team than Spurs. Cue general derision. However, after the weekend’s result, perhaps some football fans are starting to see it my way.
To me, it wasn’t surprising to see Cech outperform Lloris. I’ve always been a fan of the French keeper and he certainly wasn’t at fault for Mustafi’s opener, but couldn’t he have done more to block Sanchez’s close range effort?
As regards Sanchez, I thought he improved as the game went on. Sometimes, I wondered if he was fully focused, but even when he’s not, he’s still streets ahead of Eriksen, who is maintaining that Spurs have a ‘big-game mentality’. Well, that wasn’t shown at the weekend, despite their heroics against Real Madrid.
Defensively, Arsenal were generally sound and that is not surprising when you Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal; these guys were as solid as a rock. The problem is they haven’t been playing together enough, which is why results are patchy and performances inconsistent. Koscielny had Kane so deep in his pocket that the England striker barely got a look in. That’s why I’ve always rated Lacazette and even Giroud as better than Kane, as would Koscielny be able to tame his Arsenal team-mates so easily? I doubt it.
The midfield was a little better than normal, although I seem to recall Ramsey giving the ball away in his own half, when taking an unnecessary risk. Xhaka’s passing was a bit better than normal, although we might have to wait ten years for him to produce a pass as good as what Fabregas used to deliver on a weekly basis.
Maybe the big difference against Spurs was the work-rate. Having players running 13km per match is unheard of recently at Arsenal. For once, I really couldn’t complain about lack of effort. Even Ozil put in a shift. Whether he can do the same away at Burnley remains a moot point, but if Ozil wants to play there is no doubt that he virtually untouchable.
Meanwhile, off the field, Sven Mislintat of Borussia Dortmund is joining as chief scout in December. Some are heralding his appointment as having some deeper meaning. Personally, I still think Wenger rules the roost even if it sounds like a Gazidis appointment. Ultimately, Wenger appears to be better at managing what is going on behind the scenes than he is managing the players.
When Sanchez and Ozil leave for nothing, we will then realise that the club is still being grossly mismanaged. When Arsenal finish fourth in the league, at best, we will reach the same conclusions as we have in previous seasons. Wehn new man Sven finds that the players he recommends that Arsenal sign move to other clubs instead, he will wonder what he’s got himself involved in. Profits come before points at Arsenal, with some exceptions (for the players at least), when they actually performed against Spurs. The phrase; ‘The more it changes, the more it stays the same’ comes to mind.