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Sweet left foot

It’s a lovely Sunday isn’t it. I doubt there’s anyone who’s unhappy over the results from yesterday. How can it not be enjoyable to see Chelsea only managing a draw at QPR and reigning champions Manchester City could only managed to gain 1 point from their visit to the Britannia. What? That’s not what you’re happy about? Oh…right …and we scored 6 to win our first home league game of the season.

There were changes to the line-up which was unexpected or expected, depending if you’re following the right people on the social media network. Olivier Giroud was given a breather or dropped, depending on where you stand on the matter. While Francis Coquelin came in for the “injured” Abou Diaby. Meanwhile further back, Wojciech Szczesny was restored to the starting line-up after recovering from his injury as Vito Mannone watched his rusty colleague back in action.

Rusty is the right word to be used for Szczesny to judge his performance in yesterday’s game. I’m still fairly confident that he should be the number 1 but he definitely has to improve. If he can’t find the motivation to maintain his concentration against weaker/lower opposition then surely there’s no place for him in our team.

That’s the definition of great keepers. Not the one that is overworked and keep beating shots away. But those who produces that one save when he has nothing to do for the entire game. It wasn’t entirely on the solitary shoulders of the Pole as Kieran Gibbs made no effort to close down Jason Puncheon and the Southampton man was able to deliver a cross, pressure free. However, it was still a fairly easy catch to make and the fumble will not make for a good post match viewing for Szczesny.

Apart from that, we once again defended brilliantly and contained Southampton quite easily. On occasions, Coquelin was playing further forward than he was supposed to be and it will be a continuous learning curve for him. To be able to maintain his positional discipline even though we are always on the ball and attacking. The interchange of passing was crisp. Yet, the one defining factor of our win yesterday was the movement of the front four.

More surprising than the fact that Giroud was on the bench, is the fact that Gervinho was played in the central role. But his presence there gave us a lot of movement which confused the Southampton defence. Gervinho could have made more effort when we’re defending and should really work to close down the opposition centre backs. However, he was excellent when we had the ball. Never static and turning up in various positions to receive the ball. When Gervinho is not central, sometimes Santi Cazorla filled the space. Sometimes Lukas Podolski filled the space.

There were 2 own goals which helped the goal margin but it came on the back of good interlinked play between our players. The combination between Cazorla and Podolski was especially pleasing. Those two seemed to have built up quite and understanding and that could only augur well for us for the rest of the season. I will admit that I have my reservations about Podolski at the start of the season but he’s been working to prove me wrong every single game. The kind of wrong I always like to be.

It remains to see whether he can be as effective against teams who sit back and defend deep against us but on occasions such as yesterday, it is one where he thrives. Receiving the ball deep and driving straight at the opposition. He had a shot from distance quite early on and that is refreshing to see. He has that sweet left foot strike in him and it would be a waste not to utilise it. Podolski then went on to show just that with his free kick goal. Wonderful.

Like I mentioned earlier with Coquelin, it is easy to get caught up in a game like this where we are 4-0 up by the 40th minute mark and cruising in the game. Caught up means leaving positions and go forward with the intention of getting a goal yourself. Something which we can all relate with Thomas Vermaelen of the past. However, the Vermaelen of this season is someone else. A player who is more discipline in his role and picks his moments better. This time, he only forayed forward once and that contributed to Theo Walcott grabbing the sixth and final goal of the game.

The only other drawback from this game is that we didn’t continue our supremacy at the start of the second half. We took our foot off the gas and strolled about as if we’ve already won the game. Not sure it is that easy to forget what happened previously with a 4-0 lead. Then again, not many who played yesterday, played in that game at St James Park. It’s not like we should go all out to score another 15 more goals but there’s no doubt that the concentration level and desire has dropped a little during that 20 minutes spell from the 46th minute onwards. Shows that there’s always room for improvement.

End of the day, it was an enjoyable game and one for the team and the fans to savour. For one day. Before the team gets back to work for the start of our Champions League campaign. Have a fine Sunday.