Arsenal looked reasonably comfortable on the night with a 5-1 win against Bournemouth.
Apart from the needless goal they gave away, there were a few decent performances and two standout showings.
But let’s wind the clock back to when the teams were announced.
Mesut Ozil was in, one felt like engaging in a small celebratory dance but I resisted the urge and Carl Jenkinson, who doesn’t even go out on loan got a start
If we were surprised, imagine poor Carl.
They probably had to break out the smelling salts and check with Unai Emery if he’d misspelt Lichsteiner.
Not that the fans were against Jenkinson getting a game, having seen Lichsteiner struggle for form when the traditional right back was available.
It’s taken 830 days and Jenkinson must have thought he’d never play another game for the gunners.
Even the groundsman’s Mum must have been more likely to get a start.
Aubameyang got the nod instead of Lacazette, which was more surprising than Jenkinson, plus the fact that the Frenchman misses out in the Europa league and Aubameyang will play in both legs unless Emery has anymore surprises up his sleeves.
It was clear, soon after kick off, that the other forgotten man, Mesut Ozil, was in the mood and out to prove a point.
This performance had been coming, Ozil had started to show form, only glimpses but enough to suggest that someone was going to feel the Ozil factor.
The swagger was there, a goal, an assist and the sort of class that hasn’t been seen in an Arsenal shirt for many months.
Probably since Ozil last turned it on to this degree.
Now, Ozil must play against Spurs, anything short of a start will look like incompetence or sheer bloody mindedness, take your pick.
Ozil put the gunners in the lead after 4 minutes when Kolasinac fed Ozil, who made space for himself and with an ocean of room at his disposal, the German applied the finish.
He was immediately saluted by the majority of Arsenal fans and his quality was evident, as he watched Boruc drop early and he promptly lifted it over him, with one exquisite touch.
A section of the media are referring to it as the ‘Ozil bounce’ and there was plenty of that on display as all his disappointments and frustrations melted away, to be replaced by a wide smile and knowledge that his form may fluctuate but his class is a permanent thing of beauty.
Mkhitaryan was the other eye catching player, finally showing what he can offer in the midfield as an architect, provider and accomplished finisher.
Again, this performance had been in the pipeline, with recent appearances suggesting that there was something special approaching and this was by far, his best game in red and white.
Another player who will surely play frequently with just 10 premier league games left.
For Bournemouth, King had a couple of chances with Leno performing a brilliant save, flying low to his left.
The shot stopper obviously had his eye on another clean sheet and despite Arsenal’s kamikaze defending,he’d stop at nothing to make it so.
After 27 minutes Ozil combined with the other star of the night, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who played a neat one two, Ozil rounded the keeper and put it on a plate for his team mate. Beautiful football, so Mesut Ozil.
It was natural to feel absolutely delighted for the German after suffering at the hands of club and Country for the best part of 12 months.
Three minutes after Mkhitaryan’s goal, Arsenal managed to undo all the good work when Guendouzi went missing for an error.
A short ball on the edge of the area found the Frenchman napping and an alert Gosling picked his pocket and squared it to the advancing
Mousset. It was a moment of stupidity that allowed Bournemouth to get a toehold back in the game.
Looking at the replays Guendouzi may have felt he deserved the benefit of the doubt as he was physically upended but the refs whistle remained silent.
In the second half, Ozil and Mkhitaryan continued to pull the strings and the creativity that Arsenal lacked on numerous occasions seemed like a distant memory.
Something was coming, it would never stay 2-1 for long and then on 47 minutes, from a short corner between Ozil and Jenkinson it arrived with Koscielny, who pulled the trigger.
The ball ping ponged between a defender and the post before crossing the line and it needed a replay or two before you could determine how and who were involved but it crossed the Bournemouth line before Boruc attempted to scoop it out.
Then in the 59th minute, Henrikh Mkhitaryan picked up the ball in his own half and drove forward and the pitch opened up for him.
He noticed Aubameyang between the two defenders and as the ball found him, it was as good as a goal.
There was more to come as Bournemouth heads dropped lower than a champion limbo dancer and in the 78th minute, Daniels had a nibble at Torreira and earned a yellow card in the process.
Lacazette stepped up and curled it superbly into the Bournemouth net.
It’s worth mentioning Kolasinac, who is shaping up to be another no brainier first choice on the team sheet.
Powerful and assertive going forward and constantly pressing Bournemouth’s panic buttons.
The final word has to be about Ozil and Emery said
“He was good, [he was] amazing, Mesut helped us with his quality and work, all the players should be proud tonight and it is the same for Mesut.”
Let’s hope that translates to a start against a battered Spurs side, who will be low on confidence and who continue to rent the national stadium.
Saturdays clash will have the feel of a cup final and Emery will have to play his strongest side to gain the spoils.