After half a dozen or so, very disappointing displays, suddenly it is our opponents who appear to be struggling to find their rhythm. On the other hand, we have finally started to deliver the results and football that we knew we are capable of, or should be capable of, considering the talent we have in our ranks.
Some members of our fan base have argued that the team’s form prior to the West Ham game, wasn’t as poor as many suggested. With our sole defeat coming against Southampton in the EFL Cup. However, us not suffering a higher number of defeats, was more down to luck than judgement.
It is easy to dismiss the quality of both West Ham and Basel but we can only beat what is in front of us. Which we did emphatically, as a nine goal tally from the two fixtures proves. Five-one and four-one away victories at any Premier League or Champions League venue is an impressive return by anyone’s standards.
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As is often the case after performances of this manner, some supporters start getting carried away but should they? The simple answer is ‘no’ and a look at our performances that followed the victories over Chelsea and Basel at home, earlier in the season, should serve as a reminder. Performances of this nature need to become the rule, instead of being the exception to it.
This is not to say that I expect us to score four or five goals in every game. What I do expect though, is for the team to show the same level of desire and movement, on and off the ball, that has been on display in our latest outings. If the players can replicate this on a regular basis, there are very few teams who can live with us.
One of the main reasons for our recent improvement is the link up play between Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. At times it has been almost telepathic and we have to pay them whatever it is that they want in order to get them both to sign contract extensions. After a recent dip, thankfully both are well and truly back on song.
Although they are on a different level, it is not only Alexis and Mesut who are deserving of a special mention but Lucas Perez, Kieran Gibbs and Rob Holding too. Lucas bounced back from a quiet game against Reading and a poor game against Southampton by being in the right place at the right time to score his first two goals before going on to complete his hat trick.
It was not only his goals that caught the eye but his work rate and team play too. Even if it has to be said that his cause was helped by poor defending for his first two goals, alongside some excellent build up play, and weak goalkeeping on the third. Kieron had his best game for a long time and played a big part in our first three goals. Perhaps he deserves to keep his place for this weekends fixture?
I was very impressed with the performance of Rob Holding too, who looked confident and assured throughout but was at fault for their consolation goal. Hopefully he will learn that all errors at this level are punished and continue to develop because he looks a very good prospect at this stage. It looks like Mr Wenger has found a real gem there.
Although I am not a big fan of Gabriel, it has to be said that he hasn’t let us down whilst filling in at right back. He’s looked a far safer option than Carl Jenkinson, who simply isn’t good enough. It was also pleasing to see Alex Iwobi on the scoresheet and hopefully his goal will give him a confidence boost after a disappointing run of form.
My biggest concern at the moment is the form of Theo Walcott. Who, after impressing at the start of the season, appears to have rediscovered his form from last season. Let’s hope he can get back to the level he was at earlier this season. Quite frankly, at the start of this season Theo was a useful player, at the end of last season, he was useless. I know which version I prefer.
With Stoke up next, it’s over to you Theo….