Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Arsenal 2-0 Marseille: Talk about domination!


Sometimes it's weird how an expected result can yet feel so sensational. That was exactly the case as Arsenal literally walked over Marseille and virtually booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League. The only way that we won't be able to qualify through the group stages is if we get hammered 3-0 at Naples, but I am certain that that isn't going to happen with this Arsenal side.

We got off to a simply phenomenal start when Jack gave us the lead under 30 seconds, through a sweet curling strike. Sagna's ball across the line of the field, though accurate, was pretty easy to execute, and put Wilshere in acres of space down the right flank. He used his space, cut in easily and finished the move off with a casual curl, nestled neatly into the top corner. Brilliant.

Perhaps what was so great about that goal was the easy manner in which he dispatched it, almost like it was a simple square pass. I like Jack, and I do reckon - like a lot of other Gooners - that he is destined to become an Arsenal and England legend. However, I never thought of him as being a goal threat. I always thought of him as a deep lying midfielder, maybe a player who would rack up some assists along the way. I never thought much of his finishing abilities, instead choosing to admire his flair and quick passing. However, after becoming Arsenal's third highest goalscorer this season after getting 2 goals at the Emirates, I may have to rethink some stuff.

Which gets me to his second goal, a simple tap in after some amazing movement. Ramsey found Ozil in the box through a neat ball, Ozil squared it up for Jack who tapped in a much needed killer goal. We were dominating and could've scored many, many more through Ramsey, where the keeper made a really good save, and Ozil, through that missed penalty.

I had said in the match preview that I was against the idea of Ozil starting tonight, and the first half suggested that I was right. A poor touch in a good position and wayward passes all around left me genuinely wondering if his slump would ever end. And then there was that penalty.

Oh, Jesus.

I really don't remember the last time a person looked so disinterested in taking a spot kick. He didn't have the glint in his eyes, there was no proper run-up, and the pace in the ball wasn't half of what was required. Add to that the fact that Mandana was way off his line, and you get a penalty that has no chance of going in.

He was absolutely pathetic in the first half, truth be told, and I was praying for him to make way for Walcott or Santi Cazorla in the second half. However, it was a pleasant surprise to see him bounce back from a horrendous first half to be a genuine threat and get an assist along the way. Maybe the missed penalty was a wake up call, or maybe the manager had a talk with him, but either way, he responded professionally.

Even so, it's time that he starts earning his spot in the team, owing to the fact that we have Arteta, Wilshere and Rosicky who are capable of replacing his shoes. He looked much more like the Mesut Ozil who killed it in the 2010 World Cup against Marseille in the second half, and let's hope that this marks a turning point in his Arsenal career.

Walcott and Santi Cazorla came on for Wilshere and Rosicky, and both of them had great chances to score late in the game. Santi inexplicably hit wide when he had plenty to aim at, and Walcott missed a one-on-one chance against Mandana. However, with us having such remarkable control and a two-goal cushion, those missed chances were quickly forgotten.

It's good that we have gotten rid of our injury problems in the face of a testing December schedule, because it is a time that we really need all of our players to chip in for 3 points. Options like Walcott, Cazorla and Arteta on the bench is a stark improvement over Zelalem, Hayden and Olsson, which was the case earlier this sesaon. With Podolski returning in an estimated 3 weeks in a team that is in rampant form since September, it's safe to say that we should be expecting a highly productive December.     

We now have 12 points in the group, and have yet not qualified in it, due to Dortmund's victory. It is quite incredible, but it was a scenario that I was hoping for. A draw at Naples is all that is needed now to seal the winning spot in the Champions League, and I'm confident that our team will achieve that.

I must say, looking back, I never expected us to have such a high amount of control in this game. We created at least five presentable opportunities, had the ball in midfield, and defended well, bar a few understandable lapses. This, without question, was a complete walkover, a game that was over almost as soon as it started. True, we deserved to win by much more, but who said that paradise has to be perfect?

We got Cardiff City (haha) next on Saturday, a game which I fully expect three points out of. While they did hold Manchester United and defeat Manchester City, I don't expect them to pull off another upset against the Arsenal. I may be wrong, I may not, but that's a topic I need to elaborate further on Saturday.

For now, we can sit back, relax, and watch the Gunners dominate the field time and time again.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )