Arsenal looked like they were about as weighed down by Christmas feasting as I was, struggling for much of the game before a late Olivier Giroud header created the goal that game Arsenal the three points. Here’s how it happened.
Merry freakin’ Christmas
This game was a gift to nobody. Dire for almost the entirety, Arsenal did have the (vast) majority of possession, and the only real chances came from Arsenal. But still, oh my lord, what a dull-ass game. I drank through the whole thing and it still wasn’t any fun.
Domination with no product
Arsenal had 76% of the possession. We completed 815 passes. 11 shots on target. One goal. Like I said, it was pretty dire. But you know, three points is three points, I guess.
The death lineup
Kieran Gibbs had to come off with what appeared to be a minor injury, and was replaced by Nacho Monreal. Alex Iwobi didn’t have his best day ever, and was taken off for Lucas Perez. Francis Coquelin can’t really do anything that helps Arsenal score, so he was taken off for Aaron Ramsey. And thus, at the end of the day, Arsenal finished the match with what might very well be their best possible lineup (excluding the injured Shkodran Mustafi), with Ramsey and Granit Xhaka through the middle and most of Arsenal’s best players on the field. It ended up working; it would be nice to see a little more of it, even if you wanted to trade Lucas for Theo Walcott or make another tweak.
Next up is Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day; hopefully Big Sam doesn’t have any trollish magic to work on us.