The main talking point of the game at Selhurst Park was the decision of referee Lee Mason not to brandish a second yellow card to Francis Coquelin. Already booked, Arsenal’s holding midfielder was lucky to find Mason in a lenient mood as he offered up two further opportunities and two decisions for the official to make. On both occasions, Coquelin was let off the hook before Mason called for a word with the Gunners’s captain Per Mertesacher to express that it was last chance saloon for the Frenchman. Unsurprisingly, Arsene Wenger didn’t wait long after that to withdraw his man from the action and in the end the game will be remembered as another lesson for the 24-year-old. Certainly if Arsenal are to compete with their title rivals with Coquelin in the holding role, he will need to learn fast and convert his obvious raw talent into that of more reliable combatant material. He may yet conquer the role but it’s clear from this display that he needs more time to provide that security at the highest level.
The German international and World Cup winner often receives criticism for his perceived laziness in an Arsenal shirt. At Selhurst Park, however, there were no such qualms purely because of his brilliance on the ball. Ozil misplaced just one of his 55 passes in the match when turning in one of his best performances for the Gunners to date – that’s an astonishing pass success rate of 97.9%. It was his cross that led to the opening goal for Olivier Giroud and he played a significant role throughout an impressive attacking display, creating a host of chances. The performance is one that caught the eye and will have Arsenal fans in particular looking to the season ahead with optimism. If the Ozil of this game at Selhurst Park is the Ozil we will see for much of this season then it goes without saying he will be a very exciting player to watch.
For most of the summer the Gunners have been linked to a number of centre forwards, with a move for Karim Benzema widely touted. The north-London side already have one Frenchman in their striking ranks. Though many believe that will not be enough to compete for the Premier League crown, his goal today proved Giroud does have something to offer. It was a sublime piece of manoeuvrability to convert a cross that was behind him into the corner of the net, but will it be enough to quell calls for a new addition at the Emirates? The short answer is probably not. For while that goal was a moment of brilliance, whether Giroud offers enough consistently is another matter altogether. Indeed for large parts of the game at Selhurst Park he offered little with Arsenal’s better chances falling to the impressive Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla. The matter will likely not get put to bed until the window closes, and until then it will be talking point that looms large surrounding title race talk.
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