Finally got around to watching the entire game. Business trip have denied me access to the game and dodgy internet line wasn’t helping on the stream either. Glad to see us qualify to the next stage of the competition. Trip to Brighton won’t be the easiest of Fourth Round ties, we only have to remember what happened when we last faced a lower league side to know that. It does break our 3 match win-less run against Swansea and plenty of positives to be gleaned from that.
Jack Wilshere was the toast of the night, having put in another splendid performance in midfield. Only difference was that, this time, it was in the advanced attacking midfield role. Santi Cazorla was shifted out wide and our future club captain took the chance with both hands. A stand-out performance of maturity beyond his years and he looked very comfortable being in a less positionally restricted role. That he capped it off with the winning goal of the game, provided the cherry on top of the cake.
That said, I particularly like the shape of our midfield that night. Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin completing the trio of players in the midfield slots. Yes, it was only one match and the result could certainly be different against different opposition but still, plenty of encouragement from their partnership. Coquelin provided the intensity and that little bit of aggressiveness while Diaby took on the experience mantle and dove-tail very well with his younger colleague.
Neither stayed exclusively near the centre backs as what Mikel Arteta normally does and took turns to provide the support further forward. An understanding which we last saw when Wilshere was alongside Alex Song. So, instead of an arrow that we normally played with Arteta at the base, Wilshere in the middle and Cazorla at the top; we have a more rotational system. Which doesn’t make it easy for the opponents to pick up and mark. The duo provides a little more dynamism in their ability to drive forward with the ball and it’s an alternative to the usual system that we have. Again, only one game, let’s see if it gets replicated on future viewing.
On to more contractual stuff, Theo Walcott finally put pen to paper in extending his contract with us. Whatever your concern is with his salary and importance, I’m sure we can all agree to be happy about retaining him. A marked improvement this season compared to previous ones, Walcott is not the finished article yet. He’s not even our best player and yet, he earns the highest salary in the squad. That’s just down to right timing. When Wilshere’s contract talks comes up again, I will bet you that he will become the highest earner at the club.
All the worrying and wondering whether Walcott will stay with us or not, has to disappear down the rabbit hole. Hopefully, with the new contract in place, there won’t be a drop in form. He has to show us that we were right to offer him an extension by coming up with the goods on the pitch. As the game on Wednesday showed, we have more options when Olivier Giroud is in the central striking role. Something which maybe Walcott is pining out for but I hope all decisions are made at the sake of the team and not individual.
Now, Mr Wenger. I distinctly remember that you once said that you want to settle the Walcott contract issue first, then look for the new signing. I’ll start my clock.