We are back on the top and we’ll have to wait until Monday 11 pm CET to see whether we’ll stay there. We have recorded our sixth victory in our eight-match-unbeaten streak that will go through a very serious test next week at Anfield.
It is always nasty to play against a parked bus – just ask Jose Mourinho who has a PhD on bus-parking and now how it feels to be outside of a parked bus for a change – but eventually Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain managed to remove the bus from the turf. Here are some pointers from today’s victory.
1.It’s time for a “Two-nil to the Arsenal!” song.
“Two-nil to the Arsenal!” Sooner or later it should become a new Arsenal fans’ song, an improved version of the previous “One-nil to the Arsenal!” We have played 35 matches this season and 11 of them have ended with a 2:0-score-line in our favour – Fenerbahče (Champions’ League qualifications), Napoli, Olympique Marseille (Champions’ League Group Stage), Crystal Palace (twice), Hull City, Cardiff City, Fulham, Southampton, Liverpool (Premiership) and Spuds (FA Cup). The fact that we have won 16 times this season without conceding a goal underlines the strength of our defence.
2.Even if defenders forget to close the door, there is a ‘keeper to stop the intruders.
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We were in two dangerous situations today – Koscielny allowed Chamakh a chance but Szczesny claimed the ball and only a minute after our first goal, Jerome was played onside by our defence but his dangerous header was denied by another great save from the Pole that won’t get enough attention. Szczesny has been the best goalkeeper in the league this season and he should prove it in the next eleven days!
3.New victory, new hero.
As I’ve already written, we have enjoyed versatility in goal-scoring this term. Oxlade-Chamberlain is the 14th player to score for us in the Premiership this term (Giroud, Ramsey, Walcott, Özil, Cazorla, Podolski, Wilshere, Bendtner, Gnabry, Arteta, Flamini, Mertesacker and Sagna) and the 17th in all competitions (Gibbs, Rosicky and Eisfeld have scored their goals in Champions’ League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup respectively). Manchester City and Chelsea have had 13 different goal-scorers each in the Premiership. That versatility has been our biggest weapon against the waves of injuries that have been hitting us even before the season had started.
4.Oxlade-Chamberlain might cover for the Aaron Ramsey-shaped hole.
Aaron Ramsey has scored 13 goals in all competitions this season but he hasn’t featured since Boxing Day. We need a fair share of goals from midfield and Oxlade-Chamberlain might be the one to provide them. His brilliant first touch and the following left-footed finish after Cazorla’s pin-point pass persuaded the commentator to use the word “Bergkamp-esque” for the Englishman. It was indeed a finish that only world-class strikers can pull off. His energy, technique, pace and off-the-ball-play should propel him to the height reachable only by the best.
5.Santi Cazorla is back.
It takes two for a perfect ball behind the defence – great off-the-ball-movement doesn’t mean anything without a great pass and vice versa. Cazorla’s pass for our first goal of the day was amazing and it was only fair that Oxlade-Chamberlain met it with a first touch to match. Mesut Özil wasn’t that lucky with his wonderful pass over the top – Nacho Monreal’s shot was saved by Speroni. Still, the Spaniard has enjoyed exceptional form in 2014 and he might be our most important player over the next eleven days of hell.
6.Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud have defensive roles as well.
It was a bit strange to see Lukas Podolski in our box during the second half but his hard-work today was exceptional and therefore it’s no wonder he was everywhere. The German was substituted in the 70th minute but he will get more playing time over the next period. He was great against Liverpool in both matches last season so he might get the nod again.
Olivier Giroud had to intervene after the visitors’ corners and did his job very well. He picked himself an assist for a one-two with Oxlade-Chamberlain before his second goal but his defensive game was better than his attacking.
7.There is a pattern in our recent home victories and the common word is patience.
We have won three games at home in the Premiership since the draw against Chelsea. In all three games, we couldn’t break our opponents before half-time but in the second we scored two goals and secured a peaceful victory. Our patience pays off and that’s why we didn’t spill any points in the games against Cardiff City, Fulham and Crystal Palace respectively. That’s another quality of our team – patience combined with passion in our favour.
Next week: Liverpool. It’s going to be a start of the difficult 11-day-period during which we will face Liverpool (twice), Manchester United and Bayern. Liverpool are eight points behind us but if we make a few poor performances, it can all change.