A rough and tumble of a game between two poor sides. Both lacked invention everywhere and conviction up front. On the basis of their performance here a few weeks ago, Leicester are better than either of these teams …and they sacked their manager last week.
To accuse Kane of a lack of conviction is generally wrong and it is in this case. He escaped his ninety minute wrestling match with Sokratis long enough to head home beautifully from a free-kick (though unfortunately offside), create our best chance of the opening half by playing Eriksen in and then ramming home his penalty after being shoved by someone at the far post, Mustafi probably.
Harry’s pen in the second half was the equalizer to Ramsey’s opener in the first. Lacazette should already have scored by then. The away team’s plan was to fight tigerishly in midfield and pick up scraps on the break and it appeared to be working as we struggled to find any flow.
They were crowding Son and Harry out, Eriksen was not getting a touch and at the back, they were hurrying Hugo, Toby et al in possession. We finally started to make inroads after 35 minutes or so and nearly got our reward when Leno was forced into a double save from Eriksen and Sissoko just before half time.
The second half was principally huff and puff from both sides. Our inability to develop through midfield was prevalent and after Llorente was swapped for Son post Harry’s goal we pretty much gave up on any tippy tappy stuff. Holes were appearing in midfield (Lamela had replaced a knackered Wanyama after an hour) and the match got even more scrappy when we switched to a back four with Rose moved into centre midfield.
Through sheer effort we looked like the team most likely to score but then with just a minute left Aubameyang threw himself turfwards under a challenge from Sanchez and Taylor bought the foul.
Hugo to the rescue.
Aubameyang’s penalty, and general play, lacked any of Harry’s aforementioned conviction and Lloris was able to push his shot away. Quite how Vertonghen blocked the follow up I’ve no idea but thank goodness he did.
There was time for Eriksen to float in another free-kick, just inches beyond Vertonghen and Sanchez at the far post and for Torreira to enforce Uruguayan stereotypes and earn a red card with a high challenge on Rose.
The Undrawables no more.
It was unsatisfactory from so many points of view but we wrung a result from the game. We looked vulnerable throughout, the Gooners weren’t anywhere near good enough to exploit it though. We moved the ball so slowly and failed up front to find space or hold the ball up. Son was mostly anonymous.
The lack of a central midfield is becoming a crisis especially if Winks doesn’t recover quickly. Amazing how much we’re missing Dier.
From the start Arsenal were aggressive in midfield and not shy of putting a foot in at the back. Their one sop to creativity was Mkhitaryan, the rest of them generally took turns in booting the ball out unnecessarily. And the time-wasting. Christ. First time ever that I’ve seen a gooner team time-waste in the first half.
Dortmund on Tuesday, let’s hope for a calmer and less eventful evening.
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