Arsenal fans went home happy after the last game of the year yesterday, when the Gunners beat city rivals West Ham 2-1 in a fifth v sixth place clash. The much needed away victory allows us to build up some momentum heading into the New Year, and it was heartening to see a full strength defence on the field for once this season. The reunited pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny in particular showed their value to the team with a strong defensive display along with keeper Szczesny. The return of Ozil in early January will add further firepower up front and it looks like Wenger is set to make the usual late push for the top four slots again.
With this result, Arsenal are now unbeaten in their previous five games, and apart from the game against Liverpool, all the others were convincing wins for us. This run of form has come at the perfect time, and with leaders Chelsea starting to drop points, we are poised to capitalize and secure our place in the top four by beating the Saints on New Year’s Day.
The manager seemed very satisfied with the team’s performance yesterday and said that he was pleased with the ‘united, combative and solid performance’ on display:
It was a very important game for us and we knew that we had a very physical game in front of us.
I was a bit worried because we played with 10 men for 40 minutes against QPR and had to turn up here two days later, but we had a united, combative and very solid performance.
We are questioned a lot about our physicality and we had a good opportunity to show that we could do it – and we did it in a very convincing way.
Speaking to arsenal.com, the manager further said that this result will give the team a boost heading into the game against the Saints:
It’s a good opportunity for us to do well in a big game. We can get some confidence from [West Ham], we drew 2-2 at Liverpool and they equalised in the final minute. I feel we have enough confidence to do well.
We are fifth in the table with 33 points, Southampton have the same number of points but are ahead due to superior goal difference. Third placed United meanwhile are on 36 points. While we travel to St. Mary’s on New Year’s Day, United make the journey to the Britannia to play Stoke. Provided we win and United are beaten, we could rise as high as third on that day itself. Maybe it’s unlikely, but we can hope! Ozil returning, third place… now all Wenger needs to do is bring in a couple of defenders and we will have a truly Happy New Year.