(Photo Credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal)
Back in winning ways! After yesterday’s triumphant victory at the Hawthorns, Arsenal have now extended our streak to three Premier League wins in a row- the first time we have won three on the bounce domestically all season. A cruising 4-0 victory over our opposition saw the Gunners score some incredible goals, accompanied with some admirable individual performances. Here’s a look at four things we learnt from yesterday’s match…
1. Creativity is KEY!
For the third consecutive match, Mikel Arteta opted to start 20-year-old attacking midfielder Emile Smith Rowe as the #10 behind the front three. The ‘Croydon De Bruyne’ did not disappoint; providing the assist for our second goal of the night, which came after a string of intricate passes between himself, Alex Lacazette and goalscorer Bukayo Saka; a goal that Arsene Wenger would have smiled at from his home in France- a Prime Wengerball-esque move. He was also involved in the third goal, where Lacazette clinically converted from the rebound of Smith Rowe’s shot. With the addition of his creativity, we managed to score four goals in one match for the first time in the league this season- making it eight goals in three games with Smith Rowe in the side, a vast improvement on the twelve goals in fourteen games without him. If we can add another creative spark to this Arsenal side in the January Transfer Window, there is no reason to say why we cannot even further improve our chances created and therefore goals scored.
2. Lacazette’s on form.
Lacazette has, for a large amount of time since the start of last season, underwhelmed many fans at the club- leading to large amounts of slander towards his missed chances and all-round underperformance. However, as of now it is clear to see; Lacazette is a player in excellent form. His brace last night saw him score for the third Premier League game in succession (four in a row in all comps), adding to his total of nine goals in 1,173 minutes this season. He is the top goal contributor at the club right now- and looks a revolutionised player when his confidence is high. Not only has Lacazette been in the goals of late, but his all-round performance has been far greater than we are used to. His linkup play has been tidy, his press more energetic but it is his movement especially that has caught my eye. His willingness to run the line or come out wide to receive the ball and clear space has been a welcome addition to his game. For the club’s sake, let’s hope he can keep his confidence high, and the goals coming!
3. Mr. Reliable came through again!
Kieran Tierney. Mr. Reliable. The captain without the armband. The man who seems immune to the cold… whatever you call him, we all know just how good he is. Tierney has been arguably our most consistent player this season, alongside Bukayo Saka, and yet the past few weeks has seen him go from strength to strength. Since Arsenal’s return to a back four, Tierney has looked full of freedom, his shackles released. He has now been able to show us the attacking side of his game that had been supressed for so long when playing as a third centre back. Yesterday the Scotsman was immense, winning Man of the Match in a defensively assured performance as well as offering a huge threat going forward. He elegantly took the ball round the outside of his man, cut inside, drove into the box and curled it top corner with his weaker foot, an inspired goal to put us 0-1 up and set the whole dynamic for the game. As if his goal wasn’t enough, Tierney continued to probe for the duration of the match, creating four chances, making twenty-three passes in the final third, completing three take-ons and of course his perfectly placed cross to assist Lacazette for the fourth of the game. An exemplar performance from a fan favourite.
4. Bukayo Saka at right wing.
In his time with the Arsenal first team so far, Bukayo Saka has impressed vastly with his ability to play at such a high standard across a variety of positions. It seems now, however, his best position has become apparent. Bukayo Saka has started six games at right wing for Arsenal, and has contributed either a goal or assist in each of these appearances. He has far outshone both Pepe and Willian this season, thus proving why he has to be the starting right winger for the long-term future. His directness is refreshing- he has both the ability to go one-on-one and beat his man on the outside, or cut inside to his favoured left foot and whip in a mean cross (or even a shot vs Chelsea). Yesterday, his movement into the box from a wide starting position allowed him to score with a simple tap in, after some lovely linkup play. Every time Saka has the ball on the right, you feel he will cause some form of genuine threat, which will only get better as he continues to work on his finishing. Another aspect of his game which is flawless is his positioning; his movement to receive the ball or create space for a teammate is what you would expect from a player with far more experience. He looks so comfortable on the flank. Right now, Bukayo Saka is giving us everything we would expect to see from Nicolas Pepe on the right wing. Just 19 years old and already instrumental to everything Arsenal do.
Yesterday was an all-round refreshing win for Arsenal, with some great goals, top performances and even a clean sheet for the defence. An excellent start to 2021; and long may it continue!