When you play the worst team in the league at home you would expect a goal-fest or at least a stress-free victory. When you are a Gooner, you have to be prepared for at least half an hour of nail-biting and an injury is pretty standard.
At the end of the day, we have returned to the Top 4 as we have leap-frogged Manchester United (at least until they play Burnley that is) and the Spuds.
Here are the key points to take from the game.
1.Theo Walcott has found his goal-scoring boots.
We missed him for a year and anxiously waited for the day when he would return to destroy our opponents with his pace and finishing. The English winger has started four games this term and scored three goals in the last three weeks. Tonight he took his goal very well after Schwarzer deflected Özil’s strong shot. To have Theo back was a relief, to have him back scoring on a regular basis is exciting.
2.Aaron Ramsey hasn’t had luck with injuries.
The Welshman was our best player last season and he started the current term in the same fashion. Unfortunately, injuries have plagued him this term and tonight he was forced to leave the pitch after just ten minutes since his introduction. Hopefully he won’t be sidelined for too long as we need him at his best.
3.Mesut Özil is productive.
Say whatever you want about Mesut Özil but the German is a world-class player and when it comes to creating goals, he is second to none in the world. Koscielny scored the opener after his corner and Walcott doubled our lead after the German tested Mark Schwarzer’s palms. I’d still like to see someone else playing on the left with Özil as the No. 10 but he gives us goals one way or another from the wing too.
4.David Ospina proved inches don’t matter, it’s how you use them.
At 2:1, Andrej Kramarić had a great chance to score his second goal of the game as he was one-on-one with the Colombian keeper (albeit from a tight angle). The Croatian striker, who is still leading the goal-chart in the Croatian league, decided to try a chip. Ospina didn’t fall down but opted to stand up instead and it turned out to be a good decision as he saved a shot that could have ruined our season.
5.Can set-pieces become our biggest weapon?
According to statistics we have scored 14 goals from set-pieces this term. We broke the dead-lock after a well placed corner tonight with another big goal from Laurent Koscielny. Given that this season goes against all rules of common sense, it wouldn’t be surprising if we become more dangerous at corners and indirect free-kicks than from counter-attacks.
6.It’s going to be one hell of a race for the Champions’ League places.
At the moment we are behind Southampton only due to goal-difference. The Saints, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Spuds are all within two points at the moment and even if both Saints and United win tomorrow against West Ham and Burnley respectively, it’s going to be one of the most exciting battles in the last few years. If Manchester City slip against Stoke again (let’s not forget that The Potters have beaten the reigning champions at the Etihad), things might get even more interesting.
Next stop: Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. We have a realistic chance to retain the trophy but our performance must be much, much better than against The Foxes last night. Otherwise, we might have another nail-biting match on our hands.