Arsenal got their 4th win, 3rd clean sheet and 2nd successive win of this season’s campaign by thrashing Burnley 3-0 at the Emirates this weekend and though many would argue that it wasn’t a convincing win by virtue of lost and unconverted chances, there are positives and striking negatives that are very obvious in Arsenal’s play. The Burnley side held Arsenal for 70 minutes before the deadlock was broken by Alexis Sanchez through a header from a Calum Chambers fine cross. 2 minutes later, Calum Chambers got his first ever senior career goal from a rebound Danny Welbeck shot and Sanchez capped the win with another strike, this time from Kieran Gibbs’ low cross. The victory was expected by many Arsenal supporters, who craved a consolidation of the wins at Anderlecht and Sunderland. Below are noteworthy lessons learnt from the match.
- Sanchez’s free role paid off again: Roaming Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla behind Danny Welbeck have once again paid off as it allows the Chilean to express himself more. The experiment was first used in the Sunderland game and the Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and Carlos Tevez-like fighting spirit of Alexis Sanchez was put on display. Going at this rate, especially if Santi Cazorla improves on his game, it would be hard for Arsene Wenger to fit in Mesut Ozil, who best thrives given the free role. Now the player has gotten his 10th goal for Arsenal in all competitions and his 7th in the English Premier League and an attempt to play him outside the position he best performs would attract immense criticisms from fans. The speed, skills and killer instinct of the 25-year-old is a threat to any opposition.
- Take a bow, Arteta: It is best to bow out when the ovation is loudest, so the saying goes but for Arsene Wenger and Mikel Arteta, it doesn’t look likely to be so for the 33-year-old player. It becomes more obvious with each passing game that the Spaniard has lost pace, strength and even the work rate expected of an English Premier League defensive midfielder. It is believed that Arsene Wenger handed him the Captain’s arm band for his selflessness and his decision to take up the defensive midfield role when Alex Song left two years ago. However, over the years, he has given his best in that role and it is time for him to leave or for Arsene Wenger to realize that the requirements for that role has left the player. He was substituted in the 62nd minute for a livelier Aaron Ramsey and this could be a hint that despite being Captain, Arsene Wenger wouldn’t force him on the Arsenal fans as he is known for.
- Walcott is the real deal: He was on the pitch for barely over 10 minutes on his return from an injury that side-lined him for 8 months but flashes of the reason why he is Arsenal’s real deal was shown. Walcott proved in the match that playing on the wings does not only require pace but also intelligence and an eye for goal. The impact created by Walcott alongside Lukas Podolski in 10 minutes, lines up the fact that even without Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud and Jack Wilshere, Arsenal can still be a force to reckon with offensively. Walcott’s runs are better timed than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s and his forward play carries more potent intent and threat than what Chamberlain and Cazorla have offered in the 25-year-old’s absence.
- Chambers has got it in his strides: The 19-year-old defender, Calum Chambers who was marked by uncertainties is fast learning the ropes and on the road to an enviable career. Arsene Wenger was criticised in some quarters for splashing £16m on a 19-year-old but the player is fast proving the manager right by his sterling performances for Arsenal. He came from the back to give Arsenal a comforting second goal in the 3-0 victory, after getting an assist by making a cross for Alexis Sanchez to score the first. With the promotion of Hector Bellerin and the imminent return of Mathieu Debuchy, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Arsene Wenger giving him the nod to play as a defensive midfielder, in no distant time.
- Lukas Podolski, firepower intact: 10 minutes, 3 goal attempts at goal, with two of them powerful strikes of which one hit the woodwork. That’s all there is to say about a player who has had little or no time to play for Arsenal this season. With this Podolski performance, which may have been induced by criticisms and speculations of his sale, some time on the bench for Danny Welbeck could just be looming.