Yeah, that was thoroughly entertaining. Hell, Arsenal since match day 3 of the Premier League season has been enjoyable to watch. But last night, when we normally would shoot ourselves in the foot, we attacked and attacked and attacked some more. That was quite nice actually.
Now all you sour types will say “it was only Ludogrets Razgrad.” Oh you negative ninnies you. Can’t we just enjoy it while we can? This is good to see. The squad is deep, the talent is good, both our best players are on fire together and well, we just keep winning. Given the propensity for the Arsenal faithful to self-immolate when things aren’t good – let’s just bask in the light that is Mesut Özil right now.
And to that point, we give you the 3 Things We Learned . . .
Best Attacking Depth Since Invincibles
Two season ago at least by his standards, Mesut Özil wasn’t performing up to his optimally best. Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez was tearing up the league. Last season, Mesut Özil was serving up assists to even the loneliest of players, only to have Alexis Sanchez performing below par. Right now, both are playing at amazing levels and we’re blessed to be able to watch these two perform their trade week in and week out.
We’ve not been that blessed since both Bergkamp and Henry were playing their trade at Highbury. It’s what we’ve needed since both first appeared on the pitch together. And it’s working very well. Sanchez is settling into the role as Arsenal’s mobile striker while Özil has traded in assists for goals.
When you add that to the improved form of Theo Walcott and the unlimited potential of Alex Iwobi we’re as potent as we’ve been for years. Sure we’ve had the likes of Van Persie and Fabregas in that time but they’ve never put it together like this.
The single best thing about it is, all of them can score or create something. That means opposition defenders can’t zero in on one player. If you focus on Özil – you likely leave one of the other 3 uncovered and vice versa. Add to it the puppet-master Cazorla bringing the ball from deep and Arsenal can hurt you from anyone of its attacking players.
Then there is the depth. Lucas Perez, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, Xhaka, Elneny, Ramsey and eventually Danny Welbeck – all bring additional skill sets to the attack and can hurt teams as well.
It’s been a long time coming but Wenger has assembled a top flight attack and it’s good enough to challenge for honors.
Arsenal in Drivers Seat in Group
With the emphatic win against Ludogrets, Arsenal sit firmly on top of the group on goal differential. They are in control of their own group destiny right now and aren’t reliant on others to lose or win. They just keep doing what they are doing and they will walk out of the Group on top.
So many years we’ve been in groups we could’ve and should’ve topped only to wobble and wind up facing the likes of Bayern Munich or Barca in the knock out stages. Even in groups where we were paired with good teams are ability to even finish second was severely tested. This year things are moving with momentum.
We got a good result against PSG on the road and we’ve dominated the teams we’re supposed to. While there are still three matches to go to wrap it up, Arsenal are in control and if they continue to play the way they’ve been playing than they could finally get a favorable final 16 draw.
Arsene Wenger pulls the right strings
Many sites are talking about the depth of this Arsenal quad. Rightly so. We have so many options. However, as a manager it’s sometimes hard to want to adjust a winning formula. Sometimes you’re afraid that if you make even the slightest of adjustments to a side that’s put it together so well it will disrupt the whole apple cart and not work as well.
Last night Wenger did exactly what he felt he could to give some players a rest and add some freshness to the squad. Those changes meant Alex Iwobi got to watch and learn while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got a chance to improve. David Ospina once again took his spot as the CL keeper and Kieran Gibbs, the dutiful soldier took the place of Nacho Monreal who has looked in need of a rest for a bit now. Add to that Coquelin for Xhaka and at the outset there was little worry we mighthave made too many changes.
While we did look a little bleh in the first half, but the changes didn’t affect us all that much. Ludogrets did look to come in and press and as we’ve shown regardless of the personal we sometimes have difficulty with the press. Overall I think Wenger got it right in terms of rest the people he did.
As for rests for the likes of Özil and Sanchez that will come next week when Arsenal host Reading in the EFL cup. If you remember the last round Wenger changed all XI players on the pitch and gave his starters a well-deserved rest.
Wenger is much maligned for some of his decisions and rightly so – but with a squad that is healthy for the most part and purring he seems to be doing little wrong in terms of squad management and that is going to be one of the keys for how far Arsenal can go in its competitive ventures.