After the shocking home defeat last weekend, Arsenal made an impressive return to form with a thumping 3-1 victory away from home against Fulham in what was the first of the many London derbies. Amidst reports of a loan-deal, Lukas PodGOALski made a statement with 2 deadly strikes. Olivier Giroud continued the impressive form that he discovered in the preseason to net his 3rd goal of the season in all competitions and 2nd goal in as many appearances in the league.
Having said that, what is important to note here is that Arsenal have been in superb form ever since February this season. Since the end of the season in particular, Arsenal have had very good results (barring losses to Galatasaray and Aston Villa). The following table will show how well they have been playing since the start of the pre-season.
Here’s an interesting fact: Arsenal have 1 point more than they had at the same stage last year, and have scored 4 more goals. The goal differential of 0(zero) is however identical. This said, Arsenal’s campaign in the Premier League appears to be finally underway after a forgettable opening game. The stalwarts seem to have rediscovered the form from the last 10 games of last season and have gotten into their groove. Injuries to key players notwithstanding, Arsenal showed that they have depth in their squad and can be title contenders with or without hasty marquee signings.
Here’s an analysis of 6 players, who I felt were on top of their game today (Please note that I have not included defenders in this particular analysis as I wanted to focus on the creativity, passing and attacking aspects).
I. Passing & Possession:
In my last article on Ramsey (http://www.eplindex.com/36175/ramsey-almost-got-it-all-stats-comparison-fabregas-key-weakness.html), I said that Ramsey is going to boss the midfield and that he is going to be one of the players of the season for Arsenal if not THE player of the season. The initial signs seem to justify my predictions for him. Ramsey was in great form today (as he was in mid-week) and showed full authority with the ball at his feet, a sign of a player who is very confident about what he is doing. In this particular game, Ramsey had a total of 95 touches on the ball, completed the most number of passes (73 out of 84) and recovered the ball on 9 occasions.
Santi Cazorla, on the other hand, had the best passing accuracy and was perhaps the ‘X-factor’ in the midfield today. He made a total of 5 entries into the penalty area and formed a formidable partnership with the Rosicky and Ramsey in the center of the pitch. The trio combined very well throughout the game and never looked to have lost control at any point. As a result, Arsenal had 54% possession of the ball and completed 487 of the total 557 attempted passes.
Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky had a fairly good outing and both made significant contributions. Walcott put in 9 crosses, 6 of which found an Arsenal player inside the box. Rosicky had a very good passing accuracy and helped set-up Arsenal’s attacks on several occasions.
Let us now move on to the next part of this analysis.
II. Attacking & Creativity:
Olivier Giroud is a man in form. His deadlock breaker had a touch of fortune about it, but he scored his third goal in as many outings this season nonetheless. The icing on the cake came from Lukas Podolski who fired home a deadly double. Theo Walcott was perhaps unlucky to have not scored a goal. He had the most number of shots on target and managed to dribble past the opposition on 4 occasions. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski had 3 shots on goal each with an accuracy of 100%. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud had 2 shots on target each, with Giroud finding the back of the net from what appeared to have been a shot on goal by Ramsey. Ramsey and Cazorla provided a goal assist each.
To all those who were thinking that Arsenal will be better off without Podolski, he showed today just what he is capable of doing with that deadly left foot. The veteran of 111 internationals scored what I consider 2 of the finest goals this season. It was simple but clinical, with precision and ‘typical-Poldi’. Olivier Giroud looks to have finally found his footing in the league and could well be among the top-3 goal scorers this season. His finishing has been good so far, and he will definitely finish with 20+ goals this season if he manages to stay fit. Tomas Rosicky showed glimpses of his brilliance today. When fit, he is an absolute treat to watch and in the last 2 games, has shown signs that he will be a key player in Arsenal’s 2013-14 campaign. This season could possibly be his most successful at the Emirates. Santi Cazorla, Arsenal’s signing of the season last year looked in top form and at times made the opposition look very ordinary. The skills on display were unbelievable. Arsenal will need him to continue in the same vein if they want to pose a threat to Chelsea and the 2 Manchester clubs. Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott for me were our best players today. Mostly brilliant but at times erratic, that’s Theo Walcott for you! He never fails to amaze you. For Arsenal’s sake, I hope Walcott replicates his good form from last season and continues to give performances like today’s. Ramsey on the other hand is slowly but surely emerging as one of our most important players in the team and I won’t be surprised if in the near future he becomes a regular starter, ahead of Wilshere and Arteta.
That Wenger has not really gone after a midfielder yet, could be due to the promise shown by Ramsey and Rosicky. The arrival of an established player could hamper the growth of players like Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. Wilshere hinted that he could leave Arsenal if Wenger was shown the door. The way I look at it, it shows how much impact Arséne has had on these youngsters. Fans and pundits criticised him for backing players like Ramsey, Walcott and Giroud but look at how well they have responded. If the signs are anything to go by, Arsenal have a lot of potential and talent in the team and just need to do what they did today on a more consistent basis to become title contenders. The squad is a little thin and Arséne needs to buy, not because he cannot win anything with this squad but because he needs quality back-up if a few of the players get injured or lose form temporarily. The squad already has class but the team won’t mind additions and a little more competition for places.
To all the disgruntled fans, well I just want to say “KEEP CALM, WENGER KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING!“
Please note that the comparisons made and inferences drawn are based purely on statistics, which may not always correlate with the actual performances of the players. Some of you may have a different point of view or may look at the statistics differently, so feel free to share it with me here or on twitter (@SilverHawk_24). Until next time, this is me signing off hoping for another clinical performance in the 2nd leg of the CL Qualifier and some ‘Intelligent Spending’ before the transfer window closes.