So I would to start this off by apologizing for the lack of a blog last week. Work and life kept me busy and by the time I got a moment to sit down and write it was late in the week and I thought, what is the point? Everyone knows that the match against Chelsea was nothing fantastic and frankly it had already been talked about to death so I didn't want to beat that dead horse. A long weekend of no Arsenal football ensued as we had to wait until Monday to see another match.
I hate Monday matches (or any weekday matches for that matter), because I am unable to watch at the office so I have to resort to reading commentary and watching highlights later. Hull have given us some problems in the past but given our recent run of good form I was betting that we would take home three points and take them we did with a masterclass midfield performance. Wenger has tinkered and toyed with this squad almost all season and it appears that we have found a great balance in the middle of the pitch.
At the start of the season we knew the sheer number of midfielders would create a problem for Wenger week in and week out, but injuries to various key players has caused Wenger to experiment with more creative set ups and this tinkering has given us a very tough and attacking midfield formation with Ozil, Cazorla and Coquelin. Add in the flanking attack of Alexis and Ramsey with Giroud leading the line and you can see why we have been picking up so many points since that defeat to that other team in North London.
Ozil has really been showing why we broke the bank to bring him to the club. His ability to find the feet of another player in a crowded defense has been needed for some time. Obviously the flick in the Hull match shows the skill he has but we have all known that he is capable of brilliance on the pitch and it has been increasingly frustrating to see him struggling at times in the past season. It has taken some time for him to get acclimated to Arsenal and we are now seeing the fruits of that dedication. Ozil takes some flak for looking disinterested or lackadaisical at times but he was never the player to be overtly flashy in his play, even at Real Madrid. What he does is play clever, intelligent passes in congested areas. His play is more efficient and that is what is valuable in him. As his confidence grows with his teammates, his flashier play has begun to rise and since he knows the movement of his squad mates better, the passes will be more precise and sublime. That flick says it all. It took him a while to get back to fitness after the World Cup and sustaining an injury but with him at full form, we are seeing why Madrid valued him so highly for years and why it was a fools move to get rid of him.
Ozil and the rest of the midfield dominated Hull so soundly because of the sheer quality that we have. I will say that our midfield is the best in the League. We have quality replacements of the bench and the starting midfielders all seem to flow fluidly as they control the play with quick passing. The Hull defenders were often frozen in place as we passed through them. This doesn't and won't always work against all teams but our midfield can dictate the tempo and allow players like Alexis, Welbeck and Ramsey to get forward. Giroud benefits from our strong midfield by his holdup play can allow more of them to join the attack. Earlier this season we struggled in some matches to control the play and I think this came down to the lack of a strong defensive midfield player. Arteta is more of an attacking player and Flamini is good for a rough tackle against the orcs from Mordor but they don't fill the defensive mid role that Coquelin has provided.
Coquelin has been instrumental in our quest to get top four this season. He has matured quickly since he was called from his loan spell by Wenger. I am still amazed how quickly he settled after we all were pretty convinced his time at Arsenal was over. His form has been a breath of fresh air for us as he acted as the lynch pin of the midfield. Nobody saw his effectiveness coming and if you did you are a liar. We still need back up in that role however as it is the only position where we don't have a second player to do that job. Flamini is most likely gone this summer and Arteta won't play as many games in the future as his age catches up to him. I think in some matches a midfield two of Coquelin and Arteta could provide extra stability while only sacrificing a little attacking fluidity. I definitely think Arteta still has a role to play in the squad even if it is a diminished one. Coquelin has done nothing to give Wenger a reason to drop him from the club. Arteta can come in and still play defensively while providing an attacking threat. He provides a solid balance of attack and defense. With so many options in midfield I am eager to see what we do this summer to strengthen this squad. We clearly have the players to mount a title challenge and hopefully we get the win in the FA Cup final and avoid the Champions League qualifier (a pretty sure bet at this point).
Once again we have a Monday match as we face Swansea City. A tough match but with our recent run of form I think we will get the win and pressure City for the second place spot. We can't take any matches for granted as the season comes to a close.
The Carolina Goonerfest is coming up and I encourage all Queen City Gooners to get involved as we host the Carolina Branches of Gooners. We have a full schedule of events planned for the weekend so check it out on the Facebook page. We would love to see the pub in full voice and show our Charlotte hospitality to the other groups.
Until Next week,
Come on you Gunners