The story of Arsenal’s season thus far has been the making of, followed by the missing of, lots of chances. Yesterday we changed that by improving the taking of the chances considerably – and the end result was five goals that doubled our tally in the league so far this season, and three confidence boosting points against a team that caused us problems in spells. 26 attempts on goal, 12 on target, 5 goals – decent.
We started brightly then found ourselves behind. How very Arsenal. I thought Ramsey had been fouled in the box as he was about to shoot, but replays showed the defender got the ball. They broke up-field quickly, Vardy got in behind and curled a fine shot into the far corner. It might have been worse when a header dinked off the bar but, after the ball dropped,we showed real composure and quality to equalise.
We played it out of defence, Ozil was strong, Alexis fed Cazorla whose pass to Walcott took the England man beyond the defender, and his left footed finish trickled in at the far post. Just what we needed to get back into it, and before half-time we were ahead. Mesut Ozil’s touch to send Hector Bellerin behind the defence was sublime, the cross came in, ended up at the feet of Alexis who scored his first of the day and the season.
Leicester looked to create from crosses and set-pieces and for the most part we defended well. There’s an extra air of calm about us at the back when both Petr Cech and Per Mertesacker are playing, and I have to say I thought Nacho Monreal was outstanding at left-back yesterday. We had to defend strongly at times, and Cech made some good saves throughout.
The third goal was just gorgeous. A break down the right saw the ball played infield to Alexis. He gave it to Ozil and kept running, the German picking him out with the most perfect cross, allowing the Chilean to leap like the salmoniest of salmons, and head home into an empty net as the keeper came out. Watching those two combine like that is particularly nice to see, because if they can continue to do it, they’ll tear teams apart this season.
Alexis had his hat-trick in the 81st with a stinging shot from distance and it’s fair to say he’s back with a bang. Afterwards, Arsene Wenger said:
He is back to his level. I could see in training a different player in the last week or two and he has shown that today. I believe going forward he always looked dangerous.
There could have been more Arsenal goals. Oxlade-Chamberlain set up Ozil for a chance which the keeper saved, before Leicester pulled one back, a quite annoying goal really. Cech had made a couple of really good saves, but there was no pressure on Vardy as he replicated his first half finish – the Ox in particular guilty of standing and watching. I know we were 4-1 up, but it’s another example of how that side of his game really can be improved.
There was time for a fifth though, and Monreal got himself an assist with a cross from the left which substitute Olivier Giroud swept home first time. A good day for our three main forwards with an Alexis hat-trick and one each for Walcott and Giroud. For all their spirit and character, Arsenal punished Leicester yesterday, crucially improving the efficiency in front of goal and it always felt that if we could do that somebody would get a bit of a hiding.
Afterwards, Arsene Wenger praised his team for withstanding a positive spell from Leicester and getting back into the game:
I thought they were close to scoring a second one and it would have made it difficult. We found the resources to equalise and after that our technical quality and the pace of our strikers gave them problems and we managed to make it 2-1 before half-time. In the second half we controlled the game and looked always like we could add another one.
And another one, and another one, and another one, which we did. Obviously it’s nice to see us back among the goals and despite conceding two I thought the back four and keeper played well overall. Alexis will now feel somewhat free of the shackles after getting his first goals of the campaign, and I thought Theo Walcott played really well up front.
His pace is obviously his main weapon, but yesterday’s display was very impressive overall. He held it up well at times, his movement was really clever, he was strong against big centre-halves, and a run of games up there is improving him as a centre-forward. Credit where it’s due, he was very good. More than anything though, I think we needed a good team performance and we got that. It was important we got ourselves going again in the Premier League after the Chelsea game, and we now lie three points behind leaders United who we play at the Emirates next Sunday. Tasty.
Right, that’s your lot for this morning – although for extra reading I do recommend a sumptuous By the numbers column. Enjoy the win, catch you tomorrow an Arsecast Extra and whatever else crops up.
Have a good one.