Arsenal’s victory against Ludogorets on Wednesday night was oh so enjoyable. The game reminded me of one of our 11 aside matches that I play in on a Tuesday night, two teams full of players who want to get forward and leaving defending as somewhat of an afterthought. At least that is what it felt like when watching live.
The game was interesting because both teams played high up the pitch and left plenty of spaces in behind. The Bulgarians had a lot more quality than I expected them to have I must say. They were excellent technically, passed the ball well under pressure and had plenty of pace at the top of the pitch. But defensively they were bloody awful. Unorganised, naive and flimsy. They had only kept one clean sheet in the previous ten games in all competitions so we fully expected a free scoring Arsenal to cause plenty of problems when attacking.
I absolutely loved the Alexis opener, everybody expected him to check back on his right foot, the trouble is it’s still remarkably difficult to stop him from doing it. A quick glance up and chip over the keeper brought back memories of Paul Merson back in the day.
Ludogorets kept playing their game and carved out good chances of their own and we have David Ospina to thank for some very alert goalkeeping at times just as he did so well in Paris on week one.
The opposition keeper was not quite so positive. Theo Walcott’s whipped shot after Özil’s excellent cut back seemed to curl towards the middle of the goal. Theo must feel like he will score every time he steps onto the pitch. But I think Özil’s pass is not appreciated as much as perhaps it should be. I’ve never seen a player who is so good at picking players out from a wide position. He never just belts it into areas, he picks people out and creates chances.
Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a third with a tidy and composed finish inside the box 59 seconds into the second half, and that will be great for his confidence. It looks like he is slowly building that up in recent weeks.
From that point on it was Mesut Özil’s turn to steal the show, his first of the night was a thing of beauty. Koscielny sprinting back after the Ludogorets forward, making a last ditch challenge and then Santi’s dink over the top to Özil, who seems to have a new hunger to get forward into striker positions. His first touch was typically Özil, getting it out of his feet and into his stride, then the cool finish with his weaker foot.
Lucas Perez came off the bench and looked like a man on a mission, hungry to make an impact. He replaced Walcott and looked good in the wide position. Mesut Özil will be thankful of that impact as he ran onto a pass down the left and picked out the German in the middle to bounce the ball down and past the keeper.
If you think Özil’s bouncing shots are a fluke or fortunate then just have a look at this pass he made whilst playing for Germany.
Quite simply, the guy is extraordinary.
I also enjoyed the volley for his third, a nice pick out from Lucas once again.
I’ve had my doubts that Mesut Özil could become a scorer, it hasn’t seemed natural to him in the past but once again Arsene’s predictions seem to be coming true. It’s not been the first time that the boss has spoken about Mesut needing to score more goals and that seems to be happening this season.
There were a lot of good performances on the night, Francis Coquelin being one of them. He has come back from injury and hasn’t lost any of his sharpness it seems. Alexis once again looks very dangerous and very important to how we play. It would have been nice if he could have added to his delightful opener. I have a feeling that he will go through a purple patch of goals soon, assuming he can stay fit. When he does I think he will step up a level. He’s been mainly a provider so far but believe you me, it’s coming folks.
It was a good performance offensively but we need to tighten up once more. Until Swansea we have been pretty watertight but that’s changed a little in our last two games. To be fair to the opposition, it was probably the most competitive 6-0 I’ve ever seen. They were a much bigger threat than Basel for example, in fact we played considerably better against Basel in my opinion yet we only won that 2-0.
It will be a very interesting evening when we have to go away to the Bulgarians. They have the quality to hurt us on their own turf and we will have to be far better defensively to stay in the game during sections of that fixture but as we’ve seen, they will be open and we can exploit that. But that’s for another time, we can enjoy this win and look ahead to Middlesbrough on Saturday.
This really is fun.