Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City
A beautiful early autumn afternoon that saw me shedding layers as the match went on – sort of like a striptease, but without a single modicum of titillation – ended with what weâ€™d all come for: a goal or two at home, and three satisfying points.
I would offer a more thorough match report, but as usual I failed to heed Matt Biancoâ€™s advice and didnâ€™t get out of my lazy bed. Then the day happened and here we are again in the evening. Increasingly, the days have a habit of doing this.
We missed a lot of chances. A lot. Better, I suppose, than not being able to miss chances because they werenâ€™t there, but Stoke – now bottom – were not very impressive and weâ€™ll have tougher assignments than that before too long. Letâ€™s pluck a day out of thin air and call it â€˜Saturdayâ€™. (Because you can lol all you like about Chelseaâ€™s start to the season but it wonâ€™t go on forever, and you know what Iâ€™m thinking anyway so I wonâ€™t say anymore).
The goal Walcott did score wouldnâ€™t have been scored by Giroud and the goal Giroud scored wouldnâ€™t have been scored by Walcott, so I suppose that indicates perfectly well the benefit of not just having more than one striker, but of having different kinds of strikers. I liked Gabriel and I liked Bellerin and I thought Coquelin was absolutely superb.
Ozil won man of the match – which came as a surprise to me if Iâ€™m honest. Of course, his pass to Walcott was inch-perfect, and maybe thatâ€™s enough to warrant it. I have since read glowing reports of his contribution and his seven chances created, but from my vantage point at the time, looking at all eleven players a little bit rather than one player a lot, it didnâ€™t really feel that way. He seemed to get a bit bogged down out wide. I guess thatâ€™s why Ozil divides opinion, even now: heâ€™s hard to pinpoint at times. He pulls the strings under the radar but a whiff of the hang-dog doesnâ€™t do him any favours.
Anything else? Well, the slither of an away end – Iâ€™d say they took about a third of their allocation – seems to be happening more and more these days. I donâ€™t know how much we asked Stoke fans to pay for the away end – certainly not 62 fat ones – but perhaps cost is having more of an effect than we think. Maybe Iâ€™m wrong – do Arsenal release stats on away end attendance?
Final thought: weâ€™ve started alright but City are flying. They have so much strength in depth that when Sterling and Silva are both out, they can still keep Â£28.5m Otamendi and Â£55m de Bruyne on the bench. Weâ€™ve rotated a bit ourselves – only five players have started all five games – but once we have Wilshere back, weâ€™ll have even more flexibility and options in the midfield, and over the course of a gruelling season, weâ€™ll need it.
Talking of gruelling… this headline. But I won’t apologise.