It’s interesting how goals change the whole perspective of the game. For seventy minutes Burnley had a point in their pocket and another frustrating afternoon for us was on the cards but that ugly picture disappeared with Alexis’ first goal of the game.
We have won two in a row in the league now and we are back in the Champions’ League zone. It’s difficult to say how important league position after ten games actually is – you might recall that after our tenth league match last term we were sitting firmly on the top with a five-point-lead – but it’s nice to see us around the top spot. Here are the pointers from the game against Burnley.
1. Alexis Sánchez is a world-class player.
The Chilean did it again. For the third time in a row he was absolutely unplayable and he looked like a player in a league of his own. Younger Gooners who didn’t have luck to watch either Dennis Bergkamp or Thierry Henry beating opponents on their own can now enjoy. The way Alexis plays football is everything football should be and that’s why comparison with Luis Suarez is pointless. While both South-American versatile strikers have desire to win every game; and pace, technique, skill and ability to carry their respective team on their back, Alexis’ desire to win doesn’t make him break the rules of fair-play and he hasn’t bitten anyone yet. We have a lot of problems with injuries and most of our players are yet to find their best form but Alexis – with five goals and one assist in the last three games – has done a lot to keep the gap between us and Chelsea below ten points.
2. Marouane Chamakh’s record was broken.
Alexis’ second goal against Burnley means he has scored ten goals this term already – that makes him the quickest Wenger purchase to reach ten goals in all competitions. It took him less than four months to do so – he signed for Arsenal on 10th July and scored his tenth goal on 1st November. Marouane Chamakh – who had held the record before Alexis took it over – joined Arsenal on 1st July and scored his tenth goal in all competitions against Aston Villa on 27th November.
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3. Are we about to see the real Aaron Ramsey?
Our Welsh engine hasn’t enjoyed the best campaign so far – the injury problems haven’t been helpful either. However, his introduction against Burnley gave us the push from the midfield that we hadn’t had with Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta on the pitch. Rambo made a great attempt to score from the outside of the area but Heaton made a brilliant save to deny him. Nevertheless, moments like that can make a positive impact on a player’s self-confidence – I still think that Robin Van Persie’s attempt against Sunderland in 2011 that hit the post was the main reason why The Dutchman went on to score 30 league goals. Perhaps Rambo is about to reload his machine-guns and start firing on a regular basis from now on.
4. Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck are unlucky finishers.
One day we might find out whether we are the only reasonable (or sort of) creatures in the whole Universe but we’ll never know how either Santi Cazorla or Danny Welbeck didn’t score at least one goal against Burnley. Santi had two great opportunities to score but neither of his two shots hit the net. While Santi was unlucky with the first shot, it should be said that he was too casual with the second one. He wasn’t determined enough to nail the ball into the net and that gave the opponents’ defender enough time to block the shot.
Welbeck has had the same issues this season. His overall performances haven’t been rewarded with as many goals as he has deserved and he should have scored more by now.
5. Calum Chambers opened his account.
If our English striker doesn’t score, our English defenders do. Kieran Gibbs did it against Anderlecht and now the former Southampton defender decided to get his name on the score-sheet as well after creating a goal for Alexis. His finish was composed and clever.
6. Sunderland and Burnley are not the strongest opponents out there…
So far we have beaten only teams from the bottom half of the table. A brief look at Sunderland – who have been struggling to repeat their form from the second half of the last season and conceded eight goals against Southampton – and Burnley – who are yet to get their first league victory after promotion – suggest that we shouldn’t fly high on our consecutive victories. However…
7….but we did look more solid than in the previous games.
There is a nine-point-gap between us and Chelsea because our defence couldn’t keep the lead that our attack had provided on three occasions. If we had beaten Leicester, Manchester City and Hull, we would have had way more points and the title race would be really exciting. But, like they say, better late than never so our recent defensive solidity should be an example to follow in the forthcoming fixtures. With all due respect to the Sunderland and Burnley strikers, Wilfried Bony and especially the Manchester United quartet of Radamel Falcao, Wayne Rooney, Angel Di Maria and Robin Van Persie will be a lot more demanding opponents for our defenders.
8. Theo Walcott is back but it’s also Lukas Podolski who has returned.
It was an emotional moment to see Theo Walcott back on the pitch after almost ten months. The speedy Englishman will need time to find his form but his pace and ability to score are always welcomed and whenever he returns to his best, he will be an asset.
However, if there was an attempt that should have ended as a goal, it was Lukas Podolski’s fantastic volley that nearly broke the post. The German has shown what kind of howitzer he has in his left foot many times and his recent performances after being introduced from the bench suggest that he might be the super-sub this term. Lukas is a very likeable player and also one who knows where the goal is.
Next stop: Anderlecht in the Champions’ League. A victory would probably secure our place in the Knockout stages unless Galatasaray beat Borussia in Dortmund which is very unlikely. Let’s beat Anderlecht so we can focus on the league!