Another three goal blitz in less than fifteen minutes from Arsenal was enough for our third victory in a row. Despite the scoreline, it wasn’t an easy victory as the hosts produced a battling performance. It’s never been more apparent how much easier it is when you have world class players in your team.
Here are the key points from the game.
1.Petr Čech wants another Golden Glove.
We have won three in a row with some scintillating attacking performances but the man with a helmet deserves some credit as well. Čech made a few important interventions against Watford and didn’t allow the hosts to benefit from their fine performance in the first hour of the game. Čech has already kept a clean sheet five times after just nine games which is our best record since Jens Lehmann in 2005-06.
Sometimes convincing victories hide the contribution of a goalkeeper but Čech’s saves against Leicester, Manchester United and Watford respectively should not be forgotten.
2.Hector Bellerin gave another stunning performance.
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Now, I’m aware that Bellerin is far from being the finished article. However, he is already a huge asset to our team. His ability to use his pace is stunning and our opponents fullbacks are constantly caught flat footed when he decides to change direction. The Spaniard gives us width and complements Ramsey’s desire to drift into the middle. He has already created ten chances this season but he should also get a thumbs up for his ability to make a clearance as he has already twenty-nine of them (via squawka.com).
3.Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny were also excellent.
Both Monreal and Koscielny were defensive rocks against Watford. Koscielny prevented a dangerous counter-attack in the first half and did his job superbly. He had to work a double shift sometimes as Per Mertesacker struggled with the pace of the game.
And, what is there to say about Nacho Monreal? The Spaniard has been a consistent performer in 2015. Mathieu Debuchy and Kieran Gibbs will have to work very, very hard to return to the starting eleven at the expense of our Spaniards.
That being said, we must avoid lapses of concentration against Bayern as they won’t be as forgiving as Watford.
4.Santi Cazorla’s pass for Mesut Özil was brilliant…again!
It’s worth noting that it was Santi Cazorla’s piece of magic that released Mesut Özil through on goal before our opening goal of the game. However, it was just another example of their improving relationship. You might have forgotten how Cazorla released Özil during our preseason victory over Everton and two of them created chances for each other against Stoke as well. It seems two of our most creative players have finally clicked together and that’s something all our opponents should be very afraid of!
It would be great, however, if we had at least one of Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky at our disposal. Our squad is rather thin and with matches in three competitions this year, Cazorla and Özil could use a bit of a break.
5.Mesut Özil doesn’t need statistics to be verified as The King of Assists.
Even if the claims about Özil’s assist record turned out to be fake (via 101greatgoals.com), his numbers this season speak for themselves. He has created 37 chances in eight matches – only Dimitry Payet from West Ham United has created more than Özil. Six of those created chances were converted by our players which means Özil is the joint leader in terms of assists with David Silva (via squawka.com). His improved movement plays a significant part in his contribution to our results as he is simply everywhere. He creates goals from the right wing, left wing and central positions – it simply doesn’t matter.
6.Aaron Ramsey has finally opened his account.
Rambo was pretty wasteful in front of goal for over an hour of the game. His shots were flying over the bar or wide…just not where they were supposed to end.
However, he didn’t give up. He was constantly finding himself in the right positions and more link up play with his wing-man Bellerin finally yielded a goal. Hopefully, there are more to come in the following weeks!
7.Theo Walcott didn’t have the best game.
Theo was caught offside too many times and it looked like the hosts didn’t give him enough space to operate within. But that’s the thing with strikers like Theo. Someone once described Filippo Inzaghi as a striker who can be offside twenty times in the same game but one of his runs behind the defence will end in a goal. That’s why all teams are afraid of him. Josep Guardiola had branded him as “quicker than all of the Barcelona team put together” in 2011 (via telegraph.co.uk). Our result against Bayern will depend on how Theo performs. If he does his job well, we can pull a surprising victory against arguably the best team in the world at the moment.
8.Alexis Sánchez is a superstar.
My fear before the game against Watford had been based on our away game against Norwich in 2012-13. We went there (by plane!) after the international break and gave one of the worst performances in Wenger’s era. Hell, there was even a miss by Grant Holt in that game that was almost the same as Odion Ighalo’s at 0:0!
What I didn’t take into account is that we have at least five world class players in our ranks – Petr Čech, Laurent Koscielny, Francis Coquelin, Mesut Özil and, of course, Alexis Sánchez. Alexis has scored six goals during our victorious streak and each time it was the Chilean who gave us the lead. His goal against Watford was similar to his first goal against Leicester – he followed our attack cleverly to score a simple finish. He is now the joint second top goalscorer right now (via squawka.com).
His diagonal over the top passes for Ramsey should have been rewarded with an assist or two in the last two matches.
9.If you can beat only what is in front of you, then we are title challengers.
Following Mike Dean’s victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge we have won three league games in a row. We have beaten Leicester (undefeated before out match), Manchester United and Watford (both of which had the joint best defence prior to the respective matches). We have won each of our three matches with a three goal margin. We have also shown our variety of options to score goals with five different players (Walcott, Alexis x6, Giroud x2, Özil and Ramsey) scoring during the sequence. To put it bluntly: we didn’t climb to second place by beating out of form teams. It is a clear message to both Manchester clubs that whilst the Premier League trophy is likely to make a move from Stamford Bridge, it might just make a short trip to Emirates.
10.Olivier Giroud is a super-sub.
The Frenchman has already scored four goals in the league despite being demoted to the bench in favour of Theo Walcott. It seems that the Frenchman, who scored twice during the international friendly against Denmark, isn’t bothered with that. Au contraire, he has scored three out of the four goals as a substitute. What I’ve said for our midfielders can be applied to our attack as well – it would be great if Danny Welbeck was available to give us more options in attack. His work-rate would come handy too.
Our next game is against Bayern München in the Champions League. The German side has lost just one official match this season – the DFL Supercup match against a Nicklas Bendtner inspired Wolfsburg. They have flaws though even if no team has managed to exploit them so far.
But then again, they haven’t played against us yet!