Olivier Giroud’s introduction proved to be the vital ingredient for Arsenal tonight after a toothless performance almost ended in a drab 0-0 affair.
Even though the Emirates crowd were actively disappointed with the decision to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud’s name was sung and proved to be the difference with his fighting spirit and strength through the middle paying off to help tee up Alexis Sanchez’s winner.
Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck swapped around in the second half with the Englishman playing a wider role. Although he broke through a few times he, like most of the Arsenal side, lacked the cutting edge. Welbeck eventually gave way to Lukas Podolski which proved to be another spot-on decision.
While Giroud’s influence was perhaps the most obvious, Podolski should also receive a special mention for adding some more zest in the attacking third. For what was largely a very stale attacking performance, the Gunners had just enough to squeeze in a winner and make it three wins on the bounce AND without conceding a single goal. Alexis Sanchez – what a hero!!
On another note, was very impressed with Victor Wanyama. Why on earth we didn’t buy the former Celtic beast in 2013 I’ll never know. He is exactly what we need, a physical presence who is calm on the ball and gets stuck in using body – not flying all over the show like Mathieu Flamini. The Frenchman did have a decent outing bar a few stray tackles and a worrying back pass, but some fine interceptions made up for it and some good covering.
What matters is the three points, the growing frustration from in and around the ground was quickly forgotten when Alexis secured the winner. We beat a well organized team tonight who are a top four rival.