The match day was designated to celebrate the contribution of one David Rocastle and the 3 points earned was a fitting tribute to the legend. We needed to keep the momentum going and we did just that. 3 points was no more and no less than what we deserved yesterday, from our performance. That’s 3 win on the trot since that derby day defeat (sorry to bring that up).
Our win wasn’t the only positive from last night. The fact that Chelsea failed to pick up any points against Southampton, sees them dropping to fourth spot and only 2 points ahead of us. With their ridiculous match schedule, it is hard not to see them dropping more points in the future and that augurs well for us. Swansea couldn’t do us a favour in the other match against Sp*rs but at the least, we’ve maintained the point difference.
To his credit, Arsene Wenger made two very good choices with his selection. The perseverance with Lukasz Fabianski in goal and Laurent Koscielny at centre back. We were treated to another solid defensive performance (even if it’s just Reading) not only from them, but from the entire team. Highlight was undoubtedly that last minute saving tackle from Koscielny, in the second half. The other was the more surprising one and one which rightly take most of the plaudits from last night.
Gervinho started on the left side of the attacking trident and in my view, produced his single best performance in a red and white shirt. Again, it doesn’t matter if it’s against Reading. If Gervinho is such a confidence based player, then surely the praises that he’s getting from this match, will do him a world of good. Scored and assisted 2 goals, the Ivorian was threatening throughout the match.
He did most things which we seldom see from him. The directness of his game. Too often we’ve seen him twisting here and there, maybe even getting past the marker but only ends up delaying it enough for the marker to get back into position. He wasn’t faultless yesterday but you could see that he took less time to think and just drove straight at opponent. If it was to be a pass, he took it. If it was to be a shot, he took it. Not caught between the two.
The other player who impressed was Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky. Playing in midfield, both played at a high energy level and never stopped with their pressing. What they did was simple and yet, effective. It allows Mikel Arteta the chance to steal in from the back. At the same time, these pressing further up the field, allows Santi Cazorla to nip in and instigate our attacks.
It’s a little different from when Abou Diaby and Cazorla played in the middle with Arteta. It was more of a base 2 with the Spaniard just behind Olivier Giroud. With Ramsey and Rosicky, it’s a base of 1 in Arteta and a trio in front of him (including Cazorla). Who says Wenger is strict with his formation? These tiny little details matter and we do see them employed when different player is selected to play.
If I were to pick a negative and I’m not allowed to choose the goal conceded, it would be the scoreline. This was a match entirely dominated by us but the margin doesn’t quite reflect the superiority we showed. We are still 1 goal behind Chelsea in terms of goal difference and that could prove decisive come the end of the season. We created numerous chances and should have taken them better. Bayern Munich are coasting to the Bundesliga title but still keep going even when they are 5 or 6 goals up (yesterday against Hambury).
The injury suffered by Ignacio Monreal doesn’t look to serious. It’s just a knock and according to Wenger, will be back in time for the next match. It feels good that when we have a good player going out injured, we are not worried about the substitute. Kieran Gibbs came off the bench to replace Monreal and there was no fear that the left back position would suddenly become our weak spot.
One week before the WBA game. Chelsea would have played 2 games before we take to the pitch again. Time to rest some bruise bodies and be ready for the next one. Onwards and upwards.