Finally! Arsenal have managed to score more than twice for the first time this season as we finally wore our shooting boots. We crushed Leicester in a thrilling match in which both sides actually came out to play football – something that certainly suited us.
Here are the points from the game:
1.Alexis’ hard work was finally rewarded.
That was some way to open your account! A hattrick away from home against the only undefeated team in the league says it all. Just like last season, Alexis had to wait until our visit to The King Power Stadium to score his first goal of the season. Alexis had over 30 attempts on goal this season before his first goal against Leicester (via Squawka) but now we can expect a lot more to start flowing. His header for the second goal matched the perfection of Mesut Özil’s pass and the third goal was a touch of a pure class, a bit similar to the one he had scored against Aston Villa in the FA Cup Final last season.
The last Arsenal player to score a hat-trick against Leicester away was none other than Dennis Bergkamp. The Iceman scored one of the best hattricks (if not the best) in the history of English football. The Dutchman did it in a spectacular 3:3 draw in 1997-98. In case you have forgotten, it was the season of Arsene Wenger’s first double.
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The comparison with Bergkamp is not too far-fetched. There has certainly been many excellent Arsenal players but there have been a few special, unique players like Dennis, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Alexis with that special touch that makes you cry: “How the hell did he do that?!” That third goal against Leicester was exactly that type of a goal – you didn’t see it coming and neither did our opponents.
2.Nacho Monreal’s performance deserves a special praise.
The Spanish full-back had a difficult task – he was supposed to keep Riyad Mahrez under control. The Algerian had scored as many league goals as Arsenal before the visit to Leicester and has already been connected with a move to Barcelona (via Daily Mail). However, Monreal didn’t give a damn about his over-hyped rival and kept him quiet while offering width to our attack at the other end of the pitch. His low cross that was converted by Olivier Giroud was the cherry on top of another lovely performance by the Spaniard.
3.Hector Bellerin is the best right full-back Arsenal have.
Mathieu Debuchy’s poor performance against the Spuds during last week’s Capital One Cup clash probably persuaded Arsene Wenger to stick with Bellerin for the game against The Foxes. The Spanish youngster gave another sublime performance. His contribution to our second was crucial as it was his cross that preceded Alexis’ goal. There is no full-back in the league that can match Bellerin’s pace and that’s an asset our creative department should use more often. Mesut Özil did it and the result was clearly visible.
4.Santi Cazorla has been the most creative force in the league since his arrival.
The little Spaniard may have lost his top spot in terms of chances created to Mesut Özil but holds top spot of the most prolific goal-providers in the Premier League since his arrival to England (via Metro). His assist for Walcott’s goal was incredibly crucial as Leicester were coming close to doubling their lead. Hopefully we’ll see more of his pinpoint passes to our attackers against Olympiacos and Manchester United next week.
5.Mesut Özil has finally found a connection with Alexis Sánchez.
If there was anything that Gooners have been dreaming about most, it’s for Özil and Alexis to finally click. If our third goal against Leicester was a sign of things to come, our future does look really bright. Özil’s pass over the top was perfect but Alexis’ header was pretty good as well. It was a goal that effectively put the game to bed.
If the German finds his magic against Manchester United next Sunday, we’ll be very close to recording our first victory over United in the league since 1st May 2011.
6. Theo Walcott has shown some new qualities.
The speedy Englishman has continued his fine goal-scoring form with Saturday’s equalizer. One would have expected Theo to score with his right foot but this time it was a left-footed finish. However, there was something even more impressive than the knowledge that Theo can score with either foot – his ability to hold-up play. He did well in that department as well and was a valuable outlet for our attack throughout the game, something we’ve needed from him.
In my book, Theo should be our first-choice striker. He has pace and movement, runs behind the defence and knows how to score as his 12 goals from 13 starts have proven. He’ll have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders next week as Olivier Giroud is suspended for the game against Olympiacos while Manchester United have enjoyed a pretty decent defensive campaign so far.
7.Olivier Giroud – a super-sub?
The French striker had endured a difficult period since the idiotic red card against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League but his fine finish against Leicester should restore his confidence. It may sound a bit like a paradox that Giroud’s goal proved that he should start on the bench in the future as well. The Frenchman has scored three league goals this term – two of those came after he had been brought on from the bench. As I’ve pointed out many times before, our current line-up with Cazorla, Özil and Ramsey is too narrow to exploit Olivier Giroud’s strengths so perhaps Wenger should see him as a super-sub in the future as long as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t make a breakthrough into the starting line-up.
8.Petr Čech conceded two and still managed to prove he is a world-class goalkeeper.
The Czech goalkeeper made a few stunning saves to deny the hosts. Those saves is something we’ve been missing since the good ‘ol days of Jens Lehmann. We’ll need Čech at his best against Manchester United next week as well.
9.Per Mertesacker didn’t impress.
Jamie Vardy may have been an England international but we live in a time when anyone eligible to play for England can expect an international call-up. However, Vardy did look like a top striker next to Mertesacker who wasn’t capable of dealing with him. Perhaps it was Vardy’s header that struck the woodwork was more condemning than either of his goals, as our tall German was easily beaten by the English striker in the air. The Leicester forward’s second goal was also dreadful to watch as Mertesacker didn’t even try to block Vardy’s shot. Hopefully Gabriel is going to return to the starting line-up after serving his suspension.
10.Francis Coquelin should be spared against Olympiacos.
Mathieu Flamini, the hero of our victory at the White Hart Lane, picked up a hamstring-injury that probably means he will be out for two to three weeks. However, Arsene Wenger has brought a smile to our faces by confirming Francis Coquelin might be ready for the big game against Manchester United and even for the one before that against Olympiacos. Now, I’m not saying that we should take Olympiacos easily, we have already spent all our credits against Dinamo, but Coquelin is too valuable to be lost in the game against the Greek outfit that we should be able to win even without our best defensive midfielder. The Frenchman is the best shield for our back four we have had since the days of Gilberto Silva.
So, after four consecutive away matches we are about to play two home matches before the international break. We play Olympiacos on Tuesday night which gives us an extra day to prepare for the game against Manchester United as The Red Devils will play Wolfsburg on Wednesday night.