After we had beaten Borussia Dortmund in the Champions’ League we got back on the right track in the league as well. A victory over West Brom was just what we needed after two unlucky defeats to Swansea and Manchester United respectively. It wasn’t an easy victory but it was surely a deserved one.
Here are the key pointers from the game:
1.Santi Cazorla seems to be back.
When Santi Cazorla signed for Arsenal, I was thrilled. His first season at Arsenal was nothing short of brilliant – he reached double-digits in both goals and assists and was rightfully picked for our best player of the season. His second season wasn’t that good as he had problems with an injury but he still managed to score a free-kick that gave us a life-line against Hull in the FA Cup Final. The ambidextrous Spaniard hasn’t had the best campaign – pretty much like our whole team apart from Alexis, it should be said – but his performances against Borussia Dortmund and West Brom respectively were excellent.
He was involved in all three goals we scored in the respective matches and looked much sharper than he had before the match against Borussia. Sometimes top players need to do something special on the pitch that will give them momentum for the forthcoming matches. For instance, I have a feeling that it was Aaron Ramsey’s goal against Wigan in the penultimate match of 2012-13 that gave the Welshman momentum that led him through our campaign during 2013-14.
It’s irrelevant whether that special something was Cazorla’s pass for Yaya Sanogo’s very first goal for the club or that dribbling against Immobile that was pure magic – the only thing that matters is that Santi is back. His run before brilliant cross for Welbeck’s goal was exceptional. Hopefully there is more to come from the Spaniard in forthcoming fixtures.
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2.Danny Welbeck should continue scoring goals now.
I’ve been saying ever since Danny Welbeck signed for us that we got a striker that has pace, work ethic, likeable character and not-so-good shooting technique. His finishing hasn’t been something to write home about but his goal against West Brom underlined his physical quality.
He made a great jump to meet Cazorla’s cross and gave us the valuable three points. True, he had his moments of a poor first touch and shooting but he can fix that.
3.Aaron Ramsey tries too hard.
The Welshman has been out of form pretty much since that injury in Andorra. One thing is clearly visible – he wants to score a goal. After scoring goals in the Community Shield and two in the opening league matches, Rambo hasn’t scored and that might have shaken his confidence. It’s true that we need his goals given that he is the most reliable source from the midfield given that Cazorla hasn’t scored a goal this term and Özil won’t be back on the pitch before 2015.
4.Five out of thirteen.
Five out of thirteen. We have won five games out of thirteen in the league so far but it’s not what I wanted to point at. It’s the fact we have scored a goal or more in the first half in just five league matches out of thirteen (Koscielny vs Crystal Palace, Alexis vs Leicester, three goals against Aston Villa, Alexis vs Hull, Alexis vs Sunderland). We faced a similar problem in 2012-13 – we signed Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud and sold Robin van Persie and Alex Song so our team totally changed shape and it took a while before we started to get on the business straight from the beginning.
5.Injuries just keep hitting us.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal are the latest casualties. At this rate, it’s only matter of time when the Gooners will start spraining their wrists and breaking their fingers while writing comments. How our defence will look like against Southampton is beyond me.
6.Alan Shearer & co. know crap about football.
Olivier Giroud was obviously fouled in the box by Gardner in the first half. We can discuss whether his fall was theatrical or not – it’s irrelevant. A foul in the penalty box is a penalty. Period. Alan Shearer, who used to be a striker, obviously doesn’t know that.
7.Olivier Giroud’s return to full match fitness will take time.
It is good to have Giroud back on the pitch – he adds a physical dimension that we missed for three months – but it will take some time before he gains full match fitness. He hasn’t had too many minutes next to Danny Welbeck on the pitch either but once they click, they should complement each other. Welbeck’s pace and Giroud’s link-up play should be a devastating combination.
Same thing about match fitness can be said for Laurent Koscielny and it’s good to have him back too.
8.Damian Martinez might give a good scare to both Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina.
The Argentinian youngster has kept a clean sheet twice in a row now. He looks impressive between the sticks and his saves against Borussia were outstanding. With our two international goalkeepers on the sidelines, the Argentinian might take this opportunity to earn Arsene Wenger’s trust even when one or both goalkeepers return from their injuries.
Next match: Southampton. They’ve had a great campaign so far but it’s time to restore the order and narrow the gap between us and them to three points.