SUNDERLAND 1 ARSENAL 3
Our visit to Wearside saw the debut of Mesut Özil, three excellent goals, and three lovely points. Recent visits to the Stadium of Light have been far from easy, but on this occasion things were a little easier.
The first half was all Arsenal and with some better finishing from Walcott we could have been home and dry at the half time mark. But it was only one nil, a vulnerable scoreline, and so it proved when Koscielny gave away a needless penalty (albeit thanks to a dive from Adam Johnson). For the next fifteen to twenty minutes we were under the cosh and rode our luck a little, but we soon took control again.
Two fantastic finishes from Ramsey, one a volley and the other a cool finish (to round off a lovely move), saw us over the finish line. A winning debut for Özil and three points for the travelling faithful, making the long journey home a happy one.
MARSEILLE 1 ARSENAL 2
Our Champions League campaign got off to a winning start in the south of France. On paper our most winnable away game in this group, so it was a big win to get us up and running.
There was little of interest to talk about at half time, but things picked up in the second half. Whilst Marseille had more shots on goal, they all seemed to be rather wild and from distance. The biggest scare came when The BFG sliced a clearance over Szczesny’s head, with man of the match Gibbs saving the German with a goal line clearance.
The young English left back was then in the thick of it at the other end, first with an assist for Walcott (who found his shooting boots with a thumping volley) and then another assist for Ramsey; the Welshman once again getting his name on the scoresheet, this time with the aid of a slight deflection.
Away wins are never easy to come by, either at home or in Europe, so that this victory marked a club record TENTH consecutive away win (in all competitions) is a fantastic achievement, and is testament to this squads quality and spirit (if you pardon the Arsene impression).
ARSENAL 3 STOKE CITY 1
It was far from pretty, but then things never are when Stoke are involved. That said, despite a very tired and leggy looking performance, we produced another three goals and another three points; three delicious points which leave us sitting top of the league.
Following a change of manager this summer, Stoke actually arrived attempting to play some football. It was still far from pretty or perfect, but credit where it’s due; they’re trying. That we therefore won the game with three goals (Ramsey, Mertesacker, and Sagna) from three set-pieces (all taken by Özil) makes this victory all the more funny. Add to that Aaron Ramsey celebrating his goal with a finger on lips “ssshhh” to the travelling Stoke fans making it all the sweeter. Aaron has had a truly brilliant start to the season; this was his cherry on top.
HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
It’s still very early days; after all you want to be top of the league at the end of May, not the end of September. However, it’s been a very positive start to the season and we’re making massive strides in the right direction. We were far from great on the opening day against Villa, but with each victory comes further realisation at just how much of an impact the referee had on that game.
But to be successful this season we’re going to need a little luck. We don’t have the biggest of squads and the current injury list appeared to be taking its toll yesterday; the starting eleven have started almost every game this season and it showed towards the end. So the sooner we can get players back from injury (note: welcome back Mikel Arteta this weekend), to allow for some rotation and freshness, the better.
Next weekend is Swansea away, quickly followed by Napoli at home in the Champions League. I know people want trophies, but I’d seriously consider a very inexperienced side for our visit to The Hawthorns on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup. It will be a big risk, but if our squad players and young guns can do a job, then great; if they can’t then so be it. For now the priority should be maintaining our excellent starts to the league and European campaigns.
Until the next time, up The Arsenal.