Sometimes in life you have to huff and puff and, I suppose we should all give some begrudging credit to Burnley, who certainly made us work for our three points yesterday.
As with modern day Arsenal, the game was never going to be made easy and whilst some teams are gifted penalties when they don’t play well, we are often made to toil. So it was that after a first half of near misses and a couple of ‘keeper saves (albeit right down his throat), we had to wait until the last 20 minutes or so before the floodgates were opened. If ever there was an example of how confidence can grow with smaller away teams visiting the Emirates, then evaporate so quickly after the dam has been broken, it was this weekend. Up until Sanchez nodded in the first of our three goals, I had wondered out loud to Ian whether or not we’d ever break the deadlock. At half time he was unashamedly confident that we would. Then, as he stated at half time, as the resistance was broken the Burnley defence fell apart and we were allowed the afternoon that we’d all hoped for.
Alexis Sanchez though, eh? He is fast becoming the star player in this Arsenal side and when things don’t work out he is there to pick up the pieces. Last season Liverpool were carried by Suarez at times and whilst comparisons have been made between the Chilean and Uruguayan’s all-action style, with the amount of goals Alexis is threatening to get this season, it’s hard not to foresee us looking back at 2014/15 and seeing him as the North London, less bitey, equivalent. Another two goals (that’s ten for the season in all competitions), another spritely performance, another three we points he’s helped us secure. What a player.
Before that however, there were some frustrations, namely that we started very slow and lethargic and spent the first 15 minutes showing Burnley way too much respect, popping the ball around but never really threatening to do any real damage. The last 15 of the first half saw us spring to life a little more and both Welbeck and Sanchez had decent enough chances. I don’t know why we aren’t coming out and blitzing these teams from the off. Perhaps it is a lack of confidence defensively? Perhaps we are so concerned at keeping it tight at the back after a number of lapses this season, that keeping the score at 0-0 is almost as suitable for our defence as it is the opposition these days. I can understand that; we’re still very makeshift and whilst Monreal is looking ok at the back, can’t we all be a little bit glad that we haven’t seen some of the bigger teams have a go at our back four?
Perhaps it’s that conservatism defensively that saw Arsène opt once again for the double pivot of Flamini and Arteta. Personally I don’t see the need when you’re playing a side that won’t create too many offensive chances away from home, but if Arsène’s decision making is based on us not conceding and winning games with clean sheets, then perhaps I shouldn’t complain too much.
His goal aside, I thought Chambers had a decent game too, actually. He got forward plenty of times and put a host of good balls into the box, and his finish for the goal had himself as surprised as the rest of us, that he was the man in the poachers position in the six yard box. Supposedly he was told by Arsène that he’d get a minimum of 20 to 25 games this season. I reckon he could add an extra 10 to 15 to that at least, and for each game he grows even more impressive.
Elsewhere in the side Welbeck had a good game, so too did all of the back four. Arteta and Flamini looked ok, but the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the arrival of Theo, who had the last 12 minutes to get back into the swing of things. It was, by all accounts, a very good cameo and he showed glimpses of returning as impressively as he was playing before he got injured in January. His arrival will signal more options for us going forward and the pace of a front three that has Welbeck, Walcott and Alexis is certainly something to salivate over.
Even Poldi got on and looked impressive, hammering a shot against the post which I think is still vibrating now, such was the ferocity of the shot. He’s a fantastic impact player and whilst he won’t like it that way, he is definitely one we need to be using a little bit more. He will get goals this season. Make no mistake about that.
I’ve gotta say though, can somebody have a word with our corner takers? It’s not the most difficult task in the world and yet we seem to make corners look like the rubix cube of the football world. First man every time. I don’t know why we don’t just put a load of players at the front post – at least then we might be able to retain possession a bit better!! Sure, we scored yesterday that was a passage of play from a corner in Chambers’ goal, but we must have had another 15 chances from corners that hardly ever even beat the man at the front post.
Anyway, on a day in which you win 3-0 you can hardly complain that we didn’t take our chances, so I’ll finish off today’s blog with the positivity that is our current winning streak: three in a row and an opportunity to make it four on Tuesday night. Peace out.