In what turned out to be one of the most one-sided matches I’ve ever seen, Arsenal managed to claim their first home victory of the season thanks to goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. The visitors would be delighted with the result as we could have easily scored six or seven.
Here are the key points to take from Saturday’s match.
1.Petr Čech has kept a third consecutive clean sheet.
The Czech goalkeeper has quickly restored confidence following a nightmare league debut against West Ham. He didn’t have to do much against Stoke but he was ready whenever they did test him. It’s great to know we can count on Čech given that our next match is against his former club.
2.Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal contributed in the final third.
Our Spanish full-backs gave another impressive performance. They added width in attack and kept things tight in defence. Our game against Chelsea will require a different mindset – their main task will be to protect our defence from Pedro and Hazard. On the other hand, given how poor Chelsea full-backs have been this season, perhaps they will be afraid of Bellerin and Monreal’s overlaps!
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3.Laurent Koscielny has found himself a new partner to play in Per Mertesacker’s absence.
Gabriel has been rock-solid this season and this weekends performance was crowned with a delivery of some overdue justice to Marko Arnautović. Gabriel’s quick adjustment to the Premiership means we have another Laurent Koscielny at the back and you can’t have too many of those! The Brazilian looks like the real deal.
4.Francis Coquelin’s contribution was crucial to both ends of the pitch.
The French defensive midfielder did another fantastic job. It was after Coquelin had won the ball with a perfect tackle in the middle of the pitch that Mesut Özil sent a brilliant over-the-top pass for Theo Walcott’s opener. He had more opportunities to go forward than usual and gave our team a real spark in the middle.
5.Santi Cazorla deserves more than just a single assist to his name.
The Spanish playmaker created Olivier Giroud’s goal with a lovely cross from a free-kick but he shouldn’t be happy with his team-mates. Cazorla has created 23 chances this season but has just one assist to his name due to our poor conversion rate (via Squawka.com). No team in the world can mount a serious title challenge by scoring every eighteenth chance (via Squawka.com).
6.Mesut Özil’s talent has also been wasted by his teammates so far.
The German has done well recently as his movement and passing are as good as they should be. The fact Özil has created 76 chances in the Premier League in 2015, more than any other player (via Arsenal media group), is a remarkable feat but the fact his teammates have converted just seven of those is quite depressing. If we had signed a striker with finishing to match Özil and Cazorla’s creativity, we would have been unstoppable.
7.Alexis Sánchez hasn’t opened his account yet but he seems to be immune to the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’.
The Chilean is yet to score a goal in his second season with the club but it’s only matter of time when the goals will start to pour in. He hit the post twice against Stoke despite the fact both of his attempts were well-taken. Perhaps he is keeping his first goal of the season for Jose Mourinho’s broken bus on Saturday!
8.Theo Walcott should start in Zagreb as well.
We have won two out of our last seven league games at the Emirates and Theo Walcott was leading our attack in both of our victories. His finishing against Stoke wasn’t the best though even if he broke the deadlock. Given that our next match is at Maksimir against Dinamo Zagreb, Walcott might get the nod from Arsene Wenger. Walcott has already scored a hat-trick at Maksimir while playing for England (via bbc.co.uk) so it might be time for Theo to do the same at club level.
9.Olivier Giroud put an end to a really dry spell.
The French striker put the game to bed with a calm and classy header but it’s not enough to describe how significant this goal might turn out to be for Giroud’s confidence. Prior to this goal, Giroud hadn’t scored at the Emirates since our victory against Liverpool in April (via Squawka.com). He should be more prolific with all the chances that come his way though – he should have had a hattrick against Stoke.
10.We should keep our best players fresh for Chelsea.
It’s been quite amusing to watch Jose Mourinho’s side lately. Our victory at Stamford Bridge next week might force Roman Abramovich to think twice about the Portugeses future at the club and if Arsene Wenger can kick Mourinho out of the Premier League, then let it be! In order to do so, Arsenal need a top performance next Saturday. Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea if Wenger decides to go with a combined eleven against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night. The Croatian side should throw a party for every point they gain in the Champions’ League as they are far from the level of Olympiacos, never mind Arsenal or Bayern. Perhaps it’s time for Joel Campbell to shake off the rust or Jeff Reine-Adelaide to repeat the performances from preseason.