Welbz is Dat Guy
Welbeck and Giroud offer a study in contrasts. Giroud is solid, often static, winning balls in the air, holding up play, and bringing his teammates into the game. Meanwhile Welbeck is the kind of forward who runs constantly, dropping deep to receive the ball, passing off to a teammate, and making these neat little darting runs (often with a head-fake thrown in just to set the defender on his heels) behind defenders to receive the ball in dangerous areas.
Note that I didn’t say one was better than the other, they are both useful and could even be used to great effect together against teams who like to sit deep and take the Arsenal pressure. Still, I have to say that I think Welbeck suits the Arsenal creative types (mainly Özil and Sanchez) better than Giroud does.
Özil in particular thrives on movement in front of him and now with Welbeck rampant in front of him and Alexis and Ox in the support roles beside him, our young German international finally has the perfect compliments to his style.
Think of it this way: with Giroud, the center backs have to work hard but they have to work hard in a pretty static way. They can settle a bit, especially in the areas where center backs like to settle into a certainty. But now with Welbeck making figure 8 runs in and around the defenders constantly they are constantly unsettled, moving, trying to keep their shape against an uncertain opponent.
Giroud still has plenty to offer as the target man up front but with Welbeck, Arsenal haven’t had a forward with his near constant movement, his understanding of where to run, and his ability to get behind defenders since Robin van Persie. So, I wonder if Giroud is going to make it back into the starting lineup when he returns?
One last thing for those counting: Welbeck has 4 goals, Falcao has zero, and Balotelli just the one.
Pace Pace Pace Pace Picante
With the purchases of Alexis and Welbeck (and the return of Ox) Arsenal now have several players with great acceleration, a quality which Arsenal used to great effect against a Galatasaray side which conceded acres of space. The rapidity with which Welbeck is able to change velocity from nearly zero to full speed helps him blast past defenders, something we saw over and over last night. My favorite moment being when he zipped past Felipe Melo both times beating him with a mixture of strength and celerity.
Meanwhile, Alexis is swift as a swallow on the left. Darting in and out of defensive spaces with alacrity. And on the other side Arsenal have the ironically named “Ox” who is almost the exact opposite of the steady pace an Ox might show.
If teams concede space the way that Galatasaray did last night Arsenal’s new found fleet-footed forwards will surely eat them alive.
I better pace myself or I might run out of synonyms for acceleration.
Felipe Melo was a disaster last night. Beaten three times for three goals he then put in a two-footed tackle which nearly wrecked Alexis. I remember when Arsenal were supposedly in to buy this guy. What a bullet dodged.
Prandelli got it all wrong
I hope that Brendan Rodgers and Louis van Gaal were NOT watching the game last night. Teams who play a 3-5-2 against this Arsenal lineup with our speed on the wings will be taken to the cleaners. I’ve always thought the return to the 3-5-2 which was so in vogue last season with Liverpool and others was going to be found out but I never could have predicted that it would be found out so quickly. Watching United and Liverpool both crumble rapidly under the slightest pressure is actually kind of fun. About as much fun as watching Arsenal run rampant over Galatasaray last night.
Szczesny has an annoying habit of coming out and forcing the referee to make a decision. He’s actually been quite lucky in most of these cases, often getting a yellow instead of the red he saw last night. Still, it happens a lot that Szczesny will be left one-v-one with a forward and will need to make a last ditch tackle to save a goal. Usually, Szczesny is very good about claiming the ball but this time, and about 4 times a year, he was a millisecond late and took the player’s toenail.
That the referees don’t always give him a red card is the amazing part, that foul is a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity every time. That this referee did give him a red card, after letting Felipe Melo off with cold-blooded murder, is the surprise.