After their blitzkrieg football in first part of the 3-0 victory over Manchester United, suddenly Arsenal look more like title contenders. 'We decided to start strong,' said Arsene Wenger and it is difficult to disagree after early goals from Ozil and Alexis Sanchez ended United's hopes of returning to Manchester with a point.
Petr Cech made a crucial save to deny Martial, as United began to threaten near half-time. Post-match, Wenger refused to talk about selection, saying he would stop the interview if that subject came up. If Arsenal keep winning like this, their fans will want Wenger to stay techy with the press. Somehow, Wenger's irritation seemed to make his team keen to prove that he was right in his selection. Well, at least this time.
Before I have to duck for cover, I agree with Wenger that Ospina is world class. However, he's not at Cech's level, so you would think the latter should be playing in 'must win' games. Then again, let's not forget that Wenger stuck by Szczesny in the FA Cup final, when many, me included, would have put him on the bench.
Coming back to the present again, the way Cech plucked the ball out of the sky nonchalantly as United proved forward was confidence-inspiring. Cech just makes everything look so easy, so Arsenal have him to thank for the clean sheet against United.
Another plus was Theo Walcott's performance. Although he didn't score, Theo ran United and especially Blind ragged. Post-match, Theo dedicated the victory and the performance to the manager and the fans. As well as for his pace and his finishing, Theo's attitude is one of the reasons I always thought he'd prove to be a huge asset to Arsenal.
Thierry Henry noted how Theo squared to Ozil when he could have scored himself. Not only that, Walcott's running off the ball earned the plaudits as he created space for team-mates. All that was missing from his game was a goal, but hopefully even his detractors will realise that Theo can play as a centre forward now that he has done it against top opposition. Somehow beating Manchester United by three sounds a lot more impressive than beating the previously unbeaten Leicester by the same amount of goals, no matter what Wenger says.
Well, strangely Wenger is still talking about that Leicester game even after the United victory. Yes, it was an impressive away win, but will the Foxes finish in the top four this season? I doubt it. As refreshing as Leicester are, I very much doubt it. Top half of the table, maybe.
Meanwhile, going back to the Premier League, Jamie Carragher reckons it could be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal being virtually out of the Champions League. However, as Thierry Henry says finishing 3rd in the group could be a bigger disaster, as Thursday football may kill the club's title aspirations.
Nevertheless, Wenger says Arsenal can still qualify for the knockout stages. To do that, Arsenal need 4 points against Bayern, a win in Greece and one at home to Zagreb. If Arsenal can continue to play the way they did against United, it is not out of the question.
Sent from my iPhone