Arsenal’s draw last weekend with neighbours Tottenham in the north London derby could be seen as reflective of the Gunners’ season so far.
Arsene Wenger’s side have been frustratingly inconsistent with good wins punctuated by some disappointing performances and results. For every victory, like the one over Aston Villa in the league, there has been a reality check, like the deserved defeat in Germany against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Let’s hope the same doesn’t apply this weekend with our trip to Stamford Bridge after a dominating display last night.
There is no doubting the Gunners were well worth a point at the very least against Spurs and had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain not equalised it would have been a travesty of justice. Wenger’s men dominated possession but were caught on the counter-attack when Nacer Chadli scored the opener in the second half. They responded well and there were plenty of positives to take out of the derby.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to fitness and goalscoring form was just one of them. There is no question that Arsenal have missed the winger and he proved his worth with a poacher’s finish to secure the draw just as it appeared Mauricio Pochettino’s gameplan was going to come off perfectly for the visitors. Again last night he was a persistent thorn in the Galatasaray defensive backside, attacking them with every opportunity and even claimed a sumptuous assist for Danny Welbeck’s third.
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With Europe and a top-four challenge to contend with again this season (for the latest odds on Arsenal’s season see http://www.bet365.com/news/en/betting), Wenger will need to make full use of his squad and, while Oxlade-Chamberlain may not always get a start, he will be very useful off the bench at the very least.
Elsewhere in the side, summer signing Calum Chambers has been another outstanding performer and seems to be settling in well at the Emirates. Helped by the more experienced Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertsersacker, the former Southampton man is growing in stature in every game and looks to have been an astute purchase by Wenger.
But it is a mixed picture overall. Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta have both been ruled out of the upcoming game against Chelsea through injury and Theo Walcott remains out but is making good progress and should hopefully return at some point in the next month.
The form of Mesut Ozil has been another topic of debate so far this season. While clearly not yet performing consistently at 100%, the German star has still contributed and he is an integral part of the side even if he will probably admit himself that fans have yet to see the very best of him.
In all the analysis, it is important to remember that Arsenal are still unbeaten in the Premier League and sit in fourth early on, six points behind a Chelsea side that will take some stopping this season. There have been too many draws so far but points against Manchester City and Everton are not bad results.
The defeat to Dortmund has been made up for with the emphatic win last night, but it could be a tough Champions League group campaign nevertheless. Losing at home to Southampton in the Capital One Cup is also the source of frustration and disappointment. However, being knocked out of that competition before October is not necessarily a bad thing as it means the Gunners can now concentrate on the league and Europe before Christmas.
There is certainly plenty of room for improvement but, focusing on the positives, it is evident that a solid platform has been laid down.