Let’s start with the caveats before anyone bangs on about them: yes it was only West Brom, yes it was the Carabao cup and yes they played a youth team. But I don’t care and I highly doubt Mikel Arteta does either. Six goals away from home, a hat trick from our talisman and a clean sheet from our debutante keeper. Wednesday’s game must serve as the blueprint going forward. The game was only picked for TV for the shock factor (fuck Sky) but Arsenal didn’t read the script. For all the negativity that surrounded the team and the match it was the perfect answer. The away support was phenomenal as always, exposing the naysayers and backing every man on the pitch. Top drawer.
As for the match itself, aside from very well worked corner routine, West Brom were never in it. It was a clinical and ruthless performance from the Gunners. Aubameyang, after what I thought was a decent looking return against Chelsea, turned it on. His strikers instinct is second to none and he had no right to beat the Baggies defender to the ball for the first one but if you watch again he was already moving into position before Saka shot. His second was again all about being in exactly the right place at the right time. As Pepe’s shot slapped the post there was the Gabonese forward to side foot it home. As incredible as his acrobatic assist was for the third I think he was trying to shoot but again the awareness of Pepe to be at the far post meant that there was only one place for the ball to go.
The second half? Much the same as the first! Aubameyang scored a typical Auba goal, cutting onto his right foot and whipping it into the far corner. Saka rounded off a beautiful team goal, from an Odegaard flick (more on him in a bit). And finally Lacazette came on and go in on the action to score our sixth. The desire and hunger from the team to keep going after the whirlwind first half was excellent to see. Aaron Ramsdale pulled off some decent saves and commanded his area well. For all the negativity surrounding his signing, it was so good to hear the fans singing his name. It must have been a special moment for the England international as well.
What struck me most about this performance was how much more fluid and dangerous we looked. The endless play down the left stopped, possibly because Tierney wasn’t there but also because Martin Odegaard gives us something different. Anyone who reads this blog knows how highly I rate him. Techincally exceptional, superb vision and forward drive make him dangerous. Alongside ESR he allows Aubameyang to play in his best position, off the shoulder of the last man. This means his devastating pace and clinical finishing put to use. Drifting around on the left renders him useless. This simply has to be the blueprint going forward and Mike Arteta surely must see that. So many Premier League teams play a high line and this is the best way to exploit it.
No rest for the wicked. A trip to the Champions awaits.