It was another win. Not a pretty one but a win nonetheless. And let’s be honest, a good 1-0 is a very Arsenal thing. It wasn’t as emphatic as last week’s win over Chelsea or as convincing as the midweek Champion’s League tie. However, given Arsenal’s past propensity for throwing away matches like this, coming out with the win was gratifying.
So with that let’s look at the three things we learned from this match.
Olivier Giroud still has a part to play.
Against a well-organized side like Burnley, Arsenal’s ability to pass through the lines was highly constricted with the opposition employing two lines of compact defenders. This was expanded late in the 2nd half when they had a back 6 across the 18.
Sometimes you just have to hand it to the opponents. Burnley worked hard and they frustrated the Gunners by not giving them any space with which to pass through. The Gunners probed and probed to no avail. It’s moments like this when you could use a big brute like Olivier Giroud.
With no passing zones through the middle available, Arsenal were looking to get wide and stretch the Burnley defenders. Unfortunately for Arsenal they were disciplined and they gave very little. Without the ability to pass through Burnley, crosses might have found a target if we had a target to play the crosses to.
Arsene is quite happy with the mobility of the front 4 of Iwobi, Özil, Walcott and Alexis up top. But as we got more and more frustrated you just figured this was a match screaming for Giroud to come in and latch on to cross or a near post run.
For all the criticism of Olivier Giroud he still can be our plan B when plan A isn’t working (like today.) It’s an option we haven’t had over the last few years. Giroud just misses out on this action due to his “toe injury.” Whatever your opinion of him is, you can’t deny that the big Frenchman would’ve brought a different dynamic to the game had he been fit.
Given that we’ll likely see resolute defending like this again, Olivier Giroud will still have a say in our title hopes this season.
Mustafi looks like he’s been here for years.
I have to admit, I liked the signing from day 1, but I never imagined he’d come in and settle as quickly as he has. Shkodran Mustafi has gone from strength to strength since he joined Arsenal and continues to impress with each performance he puts in.
His partnership with Laurent Koscielny looks as solid as any Kos has had either with Vermaelen or Mertesacker. The speed with which the two have acclimated to each other is amazing and was on full display as they equally dealt with the Premier League’s resident evil beast in Diego Costa.
Mustafi not only brings grit to the game but his calm on the ball, has an excellent passing range and isn’t afraid to go forward when needed. In the closing minutes of the match versus Burnley it was an advanced Mustafi who was sending in balls for Arsenal to latch on to (sadly we didn’t.)
When it’s all said and done, I hope that Kos and Mustafi will become the best tandem in the league. They’ve certainly got the ability and more than any other signing, if Arsenal are to go on to honours, it will be based off of the performance of their new CB pairing.
5th Straight Win For the First Time Since Feb 2015
If you remember how Arsenal closed out the 2014/2015 season it ended on a glorious run of games that had them gain the most points of the second half of that season. Unfortunately for us seasons aren’t played for half a year or even in a calendar year. Had they, then Arsenal would’ve been champions.
Fast forward to this year and the 4-3 drubbing to Liverpool and the draw to Leicester that came after. Since then Arsenal have caught their stride and are beating teams in different manners. Whether it is through pure dumb luck – like today – or emphatically steam rolling an opponent – like Chelsea last week – Arsenal are finding ways to string wins together.
They head into the break only 2 points off leaders, Manchester City. It’s still early but there are positive signs that the Gunners could be around for the long haul. Of course we can still get our fair share of injuries and with stupid Interlulls popping up – injuries are guaranteed. Our further results will depend on how we weather those storms.
For now, we’ve handled the loss and the slow start and hit our stride. We’re getting scoring from all over the squad and we’ve adjusted our playing style slightly to play to the strengths of the squad.
All in all the win on Sunday is another sign that things are going in the right direction. How far it will go and last – well that’s a story for a different day.