by Nia Griffiths
Arsenal finally managed to get one past Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in front of a packed-out Wembley.
The match began fairly evenly with both teams getting forward. However, from the 20th minute we seemed to kick it up a notch and were attacking at will. After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored, we dealt with any danger effectively and there weren’t really any nervy moments (makes a nice change).
By the final 10 minutes, Chelsea were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us which, again, made a nice change.
We were calm, collected and professional more or less from start-to-finish, with amazing performances from the Ox and Santi Cazorla, and a solid game for new goalkeeper Petr Cech against his former club.
1-0 to the Arsenal – a classic scoreline complete with fresh performance.
Petr Cech – 8
A great first match against his old teammates. He didn’t have loads to do but his positioning, when needed, was superb. He also dealt well with Branislav Ivanovic’s bizarre attempts at putting him off during their free-kick and pulled off a great save.
Hector Bellerin – 7
Keen to open up the throttle and use his pace but still kept getting dragged inside occasionally, giving Loic ‘offside‘ Remy acres of space.
Per Mertesacker – 7.5
Made his usual interceptions but got caught out a couple of times by Radamel Falcao’s runs. Hopefully this is just down to pre-season rust and these kinks will work themselves out as his fitness grows.
Laurent Koscielny – 8
Boss-cielny lived up to his nickname today. He was strong, assured and a huge presence at the back. Even after Falcao came on and tried to get one-on-one with Cech, Kos was there to ferry the ball into the keeper’s hands. When the BFG didn’t track the forward’s run properly, he was also there to clean up.
Nacho Monreal – 7.5
Excellent positioning for most of the match. He dealt well with Cesc Fabregas and even looked as if he could score at one point. Solid game.
Francis Coquelin – 7.5
His intelligence appears to be growing by the game and his pressing was excellent. He kept Eden Hazard, player of last season, incredibly quiet; a feat not achieved by many.
Santi Cazorla – 8
It’s almost impossible for Santi to have a bad game now – despite Ramires stamping on him within the first five minutes. He ran the show in midfield and put in some stunning through-balls. Unfortunately, a couple went astray but his drive and desire was there.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8.5 (MOTM)
A while ago, fellow Daily Cannon writer, Lewis, predicted that this season is going to be huge for the Ox and if this match is anything to go by, I reckon he’ll be feeling pretty smug come the end of the season.
Alex was blistering down the wing and strong on the ball. His usual problem of holding onto the ball that bit too long before laying it off (or getting dispossessed) seems to have been nipped in the bud and his finishing… Well, his finishing has come along leaps and bounds.
Mesut Ozil – 8
His short passes, particularly in the box, and intelligent turns on the ball are always a pleasure to watch but on top of this, the German is looking far more confidence and happy on the pitch. Long may it continue.
Theo Walcott – 7.5
His assist for the Ox’s the goal was instinctual and sublime and his movement after this point greatly improved compared to his opening 20 minutes. He needs to be a bit stronger on the ball, as he got dispossessed a frustrating amount, but this should come with time. It’s easy to forget how long he was out for and although his fitness is coming along nicely, he still needs time to work on his strength.
Aaron Ramsey – 7.5
Never stops running – this guy’s energy is unreal. He was zipping around from box-to-box, collecting stray balls and charging forward. Great to watch.
Olivier Giroud – 7
As soon as he set foot on the pitch he was attacking the goal – in fact, I’m pretty sure his first touch of the ball was an attempt. He’s strong where Theo isn’t, so having that different dynamic is excellent.
Kieran Gibbs – 6
Although Gibbs was only brought on to sure up our defence, within minutes he was through one-on-one with Thibaut Courtois. Unfortunately, he couldn’t finish, opting to go low instead of attempting to attempt a chip over the tall keeper like Santi had done moments earlier.
Mikel Arteta – 6
Great to see him back on the pitch and ready for battle. He wasn’t on long enough to really judge appropriately but he deserves a six just for being Arteta.