Feb 20th – Arsenal 0 Hull City 0

We need to issue an APB; otherwise known as an All Point Bulletin. There should be a reward posted to find the real Alexis Sanchez. The one who’s been occupying his body for the last few weeks – while a willing trier – does not have the instincts nor the touch of the original. The pre-hamstring AS17.

It’s was painful to watch for the 30 minute he was on the pitch today. He’s out of sorts. Last week I figured it might be a one-off. Now I’m concerned that he needs more games to find his true, inner Alexis.

Another game does not bother me. I think there are many benefits.

  1. It’s way better than losing
  2. We have many players in need of game time.

On the later point DW23 is a perfect example. We can’t play him against the upcoming 3 opponents. But, care of their goalie, we now have an extra game for him and Elneny to further adjust and get important minutes.

And how about the most wonderful and efficient Michael Dean. Another splendid game I thought. He only missed two clear penalties for us. I can’t see how he missed the first one – a completely unobscured view.  I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that he did not send off Kos for a second stupid tackle in the second half when the linesman flag him for a late, jumping in and reackless foul.

All-in-all, a very frustrating afternoon though. Our passing was too slow and, naturally, we missed the chances we did have (as they did in the last 5 minutes). This is what happens when you have Flamini and Gibbs on the same side of the pitch. They both play too slowly, take too many touches and like to go sideways. At least Gibbs put in one great cross in the second half for TW14.

Elneny has some nice touches and reads the game well. He does need to be more physical though. I can’t remember him winning a tackle or a header. Often he’d be out muscled. But he has good technical skills and likes to push the team forward. I can, over time, see him being a threat to Ramsey’s playing time.

Chambers again had another solid game; he is showing signs of progress. Though I’d guess if he’d have stayed at Southampton the progress would have been quicker – but I get that we had to grab him before someone else did. In due course, he will be an important player for us. And this, of course, is a long way from my original assessment of him. Another example of AW being spot on with his judgment (as he was with Santos, Bendtner and Denilson J)

Not much more to say really. The game was played more or less entirely in their 1/3rd of the pitch. Chambers and Elneny tried to make that telling pass that would normally come from Ozil but to no avail. There were too few of those. You can see how one dimensional we can become without our maestro.  I do hope people remember that when they go back in time and remember how much bile was heaped on both Ozil and AW during his first season.  He’s as close as we’re likely to see , in our lifetimes, to DB10 himself. Maybe that’s slightly overstating it but that added speed, precision and awareness of possibilities is what we were missing today – and whenever he does not play.

So as annoying as it was to not see us score we get the benefit of an extra game to tune some important parts of our squad.

And speaking of additional games I gather we have the small matter of a game on Tuesday versus a small, provincial side from Catalonia. I wonder who’ll be in there team. It must be quite exciting for them to come and play on the big stage at The Grove. I wonder if the bright spot-lights will overwhelm them.