Ospina — After throwing the ball into his own net against Olympiakos I figured he was done at Arsenal. I figured wrong. He had a great stop against Andre Gray this weekend and it looks like Wenger is going to keep his promise to play Ospina as the “cup keeper”.
Elneny-Coquelin — I never thought Wenger would play them together because I thought they were too similar but it turns out that Elneny is much more box-to-box than I thought. So, it was a decent pairing and one which we will probably see more of. I am curious about whether Elneny can also play in the Coquelin role. Wenger said that he is “a bit more defensive” than Ramsey and that makes me wonder if, over the long term, Wenger might play Elneny not as a Coquelin but more as an Arteta: someone to deploy at the base of the midfield who can control the game through possession. Elneny’s versatility gives him options.
Burnley — They sprung a surprise and pressed Arsenal’s midfield. Based on their stats they aren’t a team who actively try to win the ball back but against Arsenal they had 27 tackles and 30 interceptions. They average 29, tackles and interceptions combined, in the Championship. It was a baptism by fire for Elneny and he did fine.
Walcott — Is there any player at Arsenal more bereft of confidence than Theo Walcott? One-v-one with the Burnley ‘keeper on Saturday and with a golden chance to put the game away, Walcott tried to dribble and coughed up the ball. I expected Walcott to crack on this season and be that player who scores the 15 extra goals we all thought Arsenal needed to challenge for the League. he is getting himself into great positions to score, in fact, he’s had more big chances than any other Arsenal player 13 in the League alone. But he’s only scored 2 and that’s indicative of a player who isn’t finishing well at the moment. Maybe he’ll come on strong in the final part of the season?
Barton — what a real reformed character, eh? Came on in the late stages of the game and within a few seconds he had already taken a dive to get a foul, then elbowed Arteta in the head, and then while Arteta was on the ground, went over and tried to lift him up as if to say “quit faking, you’re all right.” So, I wasn’t wrong about Barton, what I was wrong about was that this Arsenal team didn’t rise to his bait. I guess it makes sense though, after all Arsenal have played twice with Costa and he is the Premier League’s master baiter. Joey Barton in contrast looks like a guy who beats up kids.
I worked hard for that joke.
Southampton — Arsenal play tomorrow. Which seems unreal to have a League game so soon after a cup tie but that’s the Premier League. I loved the pictures from training today; there was a full blooded challenge between Coquelin and Alexis, (ed. I somehow published before I finished this thought! Ha ha, brimming over with wrongness this morning) Welbeck was back and smiling, and four players busted out the infamous snood — Ozil, Giroud, Arteta, and Koscielny. Weird group there eh?