Date: 31st August 2014 at 8:05pm
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The sports psychology department were eager to try out their newly developed ‘thinking cap’ and maybe they believed it might have reduced any risk that Koscielny carried coming back out onto the pitch having had his brain bouncing around his head after a collision in the 11th minute. Whether it worked or not is questionable. Koscielny thought to look to see where Ulloa was, and did so right enough as Schlupp put in a good cross from the right but he wasn’t able to do anything to prevent the forward from getting a running jump at the ball to head decisively past Szczesny. After that he threw off his cap, whether as a fashion statement or disenchantment with its powers isn’t clear, but even without its help he thought it would be a good idea if he left the pitch again.

Whether he should have made a more determined challenge or whether Ulloa shouldn’t have been left with so much space is something that the tacticians will have to think about. Perhaps Flamini could have done a little more to have blocked the cross. His tendency to run towards the player and then put his hands together behind his back while standing off him seems to offer little of any use. It was a poor goal to concede having gone a goal up just 3 minutes earlier. Arsenal had shown some control of the game at that point and a sublime delicate lob from Cazorla, standing on the edge of the area, allowed Sanogo to nudge the ball across the area for Alexis to add to the goal he scored in the week. Given the rawness he has displayed at times it’s hard to be absolutely sure whether that was what the French youngster intended but his willingness was worthy of the credit.

At that point all seemed positive and had we managed to control the game for another 15 or 20 minutes and played on the counter we might well have fashioned another goal a little more easily than we did spending another 70 minutes chasing the winning goal while Foxy Leicester played on the counter. As City found the day before no matter how good the attackers you have are it’s not always easy to score against well drilled sides and the risk of playing an open game will often provide the opposition with at least one good chance. We probably afforded Leicester more than one in this game as we chased the three points. A combination of good keeping, good defending and a bit of fortune prevented us from being more harshly punished.

From then on we played well enough at times with Sanchez looking to play quick short passes with Cazorla and Ozil but I’d guess the idea is that the three of them rotate positions, and to be fair they did, but at times we’d find all three within a couple of yards of each other which left lots of space for Leicester to break into when, as it did often enough, the move breaks down. As they become more familiar with each other that should improve but at present the threat it carries isn’t only in an attacking sense. That said both Alexis and Ozil in particular seem willing to do their share of work in covering and recovery. That’s not to say Cazorla doesn’t but he seems less successful in doing so.

Ramsey seems to be in the sort of form where while he’s still inventive and intelligent and full of running he seems less able to execute what his brain is telling him to do. Passes are hit with imagination but with either too much or not enough weight even when they’re accurate. It’s something that is found with more match time but can be costly and frustrating especially in tight games. It’s a shame Aaron didn’t make use of the sports psychology thinking cap when his great run into the box was matched by another sublime Cazorla lofted pass. Had he been wearing his cap and dropped his header across the box for an unmarked Yaya to test his shooting ability from 7 yards the sports psychologists might have received a big enough grant to have produced more than the one prototype and Sanogo, suitably adorned, when put through by Monreal just one minute later, would then have been able to return the favour to an equally available Ramsey.

It’s those sorts of decisions that are leaving us a little short of where we would want to be at the moment but then again it is still very early. The shape of the team is looking good at times and our bench looks much stronger than it has for many a season. I was concerned that we might struggle with Koscielny off and a 19 year old centre back still learning his craft in his place but once again young Chambers was impressive. As he continues to develop you wonder just how good he might become. He wouldn’t be the first precocious youngster to fail to fulfil his promise but he’s already looking pretty good.

I doubt that we’ll see too much more of the thinking caps, unless the marketing boys have plans to launch a range in the Armoury, but perhaps it’s for the best. If only because we would lose such spectacles as Debuchy and the similarly styled coiffure of Leicester’s Vardy coming up against each other like a pair of duelling toilet brushes. Still I can’t help thinking that just a little more thought in this game might have enabled us to have capped our performance with a win.