Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Friday, 27 December 2013

Walcott double helps Arsenal regain top spot

Arsenal gave their fans a late Christmas present by returning to the top of the Premier League. This was thanks to a 3-1 win against West Ham on Boxing Day yesterday. The Gunners showed some signs of rustiness having it been Christmas the day before and it took them a while to get going but in the end they ran out comfortable victors. Theo Walcott scored twice whilst Podolski came off the bench to seal the points. In terms of chances created it was a hugely improved performance after the disappointment of Chelsea on Monday. In terms of the team line-up there was just the one change from our last game. Tomas Rosicky missed out completely so Santi Cazorla regained his place. Apart from that, it was an unchanged side as Vermaelen once again played instead of the injured Koscielny.
Santi Cazorla starred as Arsenal beat West Ham
The Gunners were desperate to get back to winning ways following four games without one in all competitions and that's exactly what they did against West Ham. However, that wasn't without a few nervy moments at the back throughout the game. We performed much better than we had done against Chelsea and created way more chances than previously. Monday was a rarity where we somehow struggled to create any clear cut chances. This time around though chances fell quite regularly and we could've had more than three. The hosts meanwhile, also probably warranted more than what they got in front of goal.

Thomas Vermaelen put in another assured display at centre half, and that was despite the defence coming under heavy pressure at the start of the second half. Wojciech Szczesny who has been reliable in goal this season made a rare error as he spilt a shot straight into the path of Carlton Cole to fire home. Cole should then have had a second but put it wide whilst the same fate fell the way of Joey O'Brien.

The Gunners were to come back fighting though and at the heart of it was Santi Cazorla. His form has been anything but superb this season and has struggled to find the displays he put in regularly last season. However, yesterday he was back in full flow. Everything seemed to come through the Spaniard who was playing in a more central role than we've been used to this campaign. He played some brilliant balls in behind the defence and grabbed an assist for Theo Walcott's first goal. Moving onto Theo Walcott, he was another one of the stars of the show. He has been brilliant since returning from injury and he has showed what a miss he has been. His first was a rather lucky effort on his left foot which somehow crawled under the keeper's legs whilst his second was a fantastic header. It was the wide man's first ever headed goal in all levels of the game. Theo may have had a hat-trick too if he had put away a first half chance rather than putting it wide from a few yards out.

There was a welcome return to the side for Lukas Podolski who played in his first match since August. He was absolutely fantastic when he came on and once again showed that we do indeed have some sort of strength in depth. He showed what we'd been missing out on the left in terms of a proper outlet. He assisted Walcott's second goal and then scored a peach of a strike to mark his return in perfect fashion. The German now has three goals in 108 minutes of Premier League football this season, a prolific record.

To finish off I'd just like to quickly pick up on the form of Olivier Giroud. He certainly isn't firing on all cylinders at the moment which is a real shame after his explosive start to the season. His link-up play and first touch is world class but he seems to be lacking in confidence in front of goal and is snatching at his chances rather than finding the net. Giroud grabbed an assist but perhaps it's time to give him a little rest and play Bendtner once or twice. The big Dane came on for the last five minutes and almost scored whilst he also made some really positive runs into the box.

We're back on top of the League now with a tough game against an inform Newcastle side on Sunday at St James' Park. We'll be looking to build on the West Ham result and find some winning momentum once more. We'll be traveling to Tyneside without Aaron Ramsey though who picked up a thigh problem in the game yesterday. Time for Jack Wilshere to step up into his preferred role.

The teams lineups:

West Ham: Adrian, O'Brien(63), Tomkins, Collins(38), McCartney, Jarvis, Nolan(75), J.Cole, Noble, Diame, C.Cole. 
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Demel(63), Rat(38), Collison, Diarra, Taylor(75), Maiga.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey(65), Cazorla, Ozil(81), Walcott, Giroud(85).
Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Monreal, Flamini(81), Gnabry, Podolski(65), Bendtner(85).

My man of the match: Santi Cazorla.

Referee: Phil Dowd.
Attendance: 34,977.  

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