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A few thoughts on the Crystal Palace match

February 24, 2015

My Son, I and Arsenal travelled across the Thames to Crystal Palace in Sarf London to watch the famous Ar-sen-al.

Arsenal started the weekend fifth in the table. The games involving the other six sides in the top seven saw Manchester United away at Swansea. Chelsea at home to Burnley, Manchester City at home to Newcastle, Tottenham home to West Ham and Southampton at home to Liverpool.

I feel when watching Arsenal nowadays it really is a case of which Arsenal turns up on the day. The decent passing and battling side or the we couldn’t pass wind and can’t be arsed side. With the return this week of the Champions League the team might be forgiven for having one eye on Monaco so against Palace I could give Arsenal a little leeway.

Arsenal started well enough, passing the ball around. Early attacks for Crystal Palace were from the very speedy, Puncheon, Gayle and Zaha who were making sure Monreal and Chambers were going to have their hands full. A few free kicks were given away cheaply by Arsenal and I would say some were very soft free-kicks given by a referee who was going to be a pain in the arse all afternoon. OK! I’m an Arsenal supporter, but it did look to me once again that tackles made by Palace players, were somehow seen as different to those made by Arsenal in Clattenberg’s eyes.

A good quick passing move by Arsenal, saw a Giroud’s chipped pass go wayward to Welbeck, yet Welbeck did not give up on the pass, put Souaré under pressure and won a penalty. Cazorla stepped up to take it and 1-0 Arsenal. As it is in many games with Arsenal nowadays when they go 1-0 up, it’s a collective “job done” and their game goes to shit.

Arsenal’s passing was poor for the remainder of the half. The one thing about Arsenal though is there is a lot of talent and creativity in the side so in a flash Arsenal can go BANG! and score.

One of these flashes saw a move that lead to Arsenal’s second goal. Ospina long kick, Giroud chests ball to Ozil, who then does one-two with Giroud, then Ozil cuts inside and plays the ball to Sanchez, who looks up and passes the  ball to Welbeck running into space, Welbeck shoots with his left, Keeper parries the ball  and there is Giroud to slam in into the net for 2-0. Back to front eight touches by five players. Simple. A goal which gave Danny two assists. There was also one chance for Koscielny where he got his header wrong after a flick on by Giroud, with the old head like dice ploy.  Sanchez and Coquelin had shots but never really troubled the keeper.  However, frustrating as the passing was though I still felt Arsenal were more than comfortable in keeping Palace out.

There was not a lot to shout about in the second half save a good break from Ozil where he put in Sanchez who missed a chance you would have put your mortgage on him scoring. Giroud had a few half chances. Palace were simply looking to attack, attack, attack, free-kick after free-kick, cross after cross, shot after shot.  Arsenal really did not do much on the attacking front, yet Arsenal were defending solidly under pressure. Apparently Arsenal made some seventy-six clearances during the game.

You could say the defence was not assisted by the Arsenal midfield who kept giving the ball away cheaply with Danny and Giroud unable to hold the ball up for long enough to take the pressure off. Palace had ten corners in the game and I reckon double that in free-kicks around the penalty area where they could sling in balls to their forwards. Then Palace had the speed up front to take Nacho and Chambers to the cleaners, more so when Bolasie came on and also started slinging in dangerous crosses, yet the defence held on well. Palace did get one back from a corner late on when Murray managed to poke in a ball after a scramble in the area to reduce the arrears. In the end though it was a good three points with not being anywhere near top form.

Full time Arsenal win 2-1 and of course the two goals were dodgy goals, free kick outside the box and offside on Welbeck. Arsenal got lucky, makes a change.

Ospina – I thought he did well. Came out for crosses of which Palace were slinging in for fun and apart from a couple of occasions looked in control. Not sure he could do much with the Palace goal, though got lucky as did Arsenal with the header a minute later coming off the post and back into his arms. Goalkeepers make mistakes but can we really say after the few games the bloke has played he is that poor? 6

Nacho – Given a right old going over early on yet I think he found his way into the game. I would say any right of left backs in the premiership are going to be given a tough match by the Palace speed merchants. 6

Chambers – Still young and still a danger in opponents getting to him. has the skill, but needs to learn when and when not to go. I said when team was picked this could be where we are weakest with the speed of the Palace players. Looks like he is following the ball at times, not his man. Booked and still pulling players back when beat. 5

Koscielny and BFG. Both were put under a lot of pressure but I think they mainly handled it well. The BFG was caught out a couple of times and looks slow, but he and Koscielny in games like this, work well as chalk and cheese. 7 and 6

Coquelin – Nothing stand out, but I don’t want stand out from a DM. I want solid, consistent, win the ball, short passes and strong in the tackle. Based on this the lad did well. 8

Cazorla – Another day when his passing was not as good as it could be. Held onto the ball at times far too long and got caught in possession. To be fair I though the ref gave him no protection. Scored from the spot, all action, never gives up, does not hide, classy player, playing on a poor pitch. Did wonder why towards the end of the game he slung in a couple of crosses from free-kicks given down the right hand side with only Giroud to aim for. Just lost the ball cheaply and Palace came streaming forward. Should have been short free kicks to keep possession late in the game. 6

Ozil – Will always look lazy, but do I care? No! I want him doing what he does best, being in control of the ball. As with Cazorla, hard to pass the ball around that on a pitch that was cutting up badly and divots everywhere with maybe a bit of extra watering by Palace to add to the soaking the pitch got though rain. Ozils touch is simply amazing and though looks slow was a graceful and that bloody eagle that glides from end to end before the game. Thought he had a good goal disallowed. 6

Welbeck – Two assists, worked hard, chased back to help out defensively. Obviously needs to score, but it’s a team game and he is doing his part, sadly without the goals. Maybe at times a little weak when in possession for a big lad, loses the ball to easily at times. 7

Giroud – Scored yet again. Was good first half with flicks and holding the ball, but went off the boil in the second half. Becoming an important player in this Arsenal side. Better than many give him credit for. 6

Sanchez – Missed a great chance to settle the match making it 3-0 when set up by Ozil. Still all-action Sanchez though. I’ll never complain about the guy not giving 100% and always a big danger to defences. Not his best game, but even not at his best still better than most. 7

Rosicky again on as sub and did a good job for 15 minutes as did Gibbs. Could not be easy coming into a game where Palace were so on top. Gabriel came on to shore up the last few minutes, yet maybe when Palace scored there was an element of too many defenders in the box to deal with the situation which ended up in a melee and Palace snatched their goal.

The Eaglets 10/10

So the weekend ended with Arsenal firmly in third spot in the table only the two Oil & Gas clubs above us. It was one of those Premiership weekends when results pretty much went Arsenal’s way. Coming into the final strait of the season Arsenal look to have the best run-in as the only one of the top seven with seven matches at home to play and five away. Out of those twelve matches Arsenal have Liverpool and Chelsea at home and Manchester United away. The rest of the games are against clubs outside the current top seven.

Monaco up next and I’m going for a 3-0 Arsenal victory.




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