Football 3 years ago

Arsenal on the way up

  • Arsenal on the way up

Arsenal is one of those teams with the ability to flummox fans in both good and bad ways at the same time. Behemoth in size, the last 10 years haven't felt that way for most fans, even with two FA Cup trophies as consolation. Every year the promise of bigger and better in the league, only to fall a few embarrassing losses to United and Chelsea away from the top.

However, there's a sniff of a chance this season for one reason: every other team is in the same boat.

Champions Chelsea are barely wading anywhere near the top half of the table, while Liverpool fans are becoming increasingly livid with Rodgers' tactical incompetence. Even the Manchester teams in first and second have looked unconvincing and lacked cohesion at times in the opening weeks.

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An aspect Arsenal has been hammered on for several years is depth. Sure, the injury run of several key players has been a little unfair, but Arsenal is starting to prove they finally have the manpower to cover all positions. All summer Arsenal fans cried out for a new striker to replace Giroud, only to have Walcott fill the void.

While missing open goals at Newcastle isn't an ideal way to prove yourself to the fans, Theo has quickly evolved and the games against Stoke and Leicester were the pinnacle of his improvement, blazing trails behind a notoriously stubborn defence. Applying the finishing touches (literally) is the last piece of the puzzle, but he is quickly pushing Giroud further and further down the bench.

Unlike prior seasons, a lack of chances doesn't appear to be an issue. Santi Carzola and Mesut Ozil have stepped their game up and are looking as potent as the likes of David Silva and Juan Mata. Carzola continues to flourish in a deeper role accompanying Coquelin, while Ozil's ambition is intoxicating for fans. After claiming he wants the Ballon D'Or, the aim was to score more goals this season.

While he is yet to put his name on paper, three of his four recorded shots came against Leicester, a game in which Arsenal finally shook off the sideways passing epidemic and looking mightily dangerous on the opposition 18. Not to mention the deft chip to Alexis for Arsenal's third goal which is an assist dreams are made of.

Alexis Sanchez is a player for whom shooting is not a problem (he leads the league with 26 shots), however, converting chances was a different…at least until last weekend. The hat-trick against Leicester will hopefully open the floodgates for a player who took England by storm last season, but perhaps a bigger rest was needed following the Copa America.

Meanwhile in the back, it's great to see Mertesacker finally challenged at centre half. Gabriel Paulista has been a revelation waiting on the bench for long enough, and provided he doesn't have to play Diego Costa every week, it will bring the best out of himself and the club’s vice-captain. On his flanks, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal continue to prove why there is no way their first team placed will be snatched away at any point, while Koscielny has established himself as one of the finest centre halves in the country.

There's no need to mention just how important tomorrow's Champions League fixture against Olympiakos is. Arsene Wenger is already without Olivier Giroud due to suspension, however, Flamini and Mikel Arteta have picked up knocks and leave Wenger with very little choice in the one area Arsenal really lack depth. If Coquelin can't be rushed back into the side, perhaps Ramsey will play deep alongside Carzola with Chamberlain on the flank. 

Regardless, there can be no excuses for a team regaining momentum to come away from this fixture with anything less than three points.

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