Calls for Mikel Arteta to be sacked will start to gradually fizzle out. Three wins in three games would be the reason. He seems to have listened to pundits and fans by stopping the constant back pass, timidity and gradual and slow build-up from the back. He has removed the handbrake and allowed the players to express themselves.
Arsenal started on a positive note to the new year. Big Sam Allardyce words not going unnoticed. Perhaps it played in the minds of the Arsenal players as they were on a mission. First to the ball in 50-50 situations, one could not faulty their effort in this game. Four nil to the Arsenal was the result.
Is Emile Smith-Rowe the missing link to Arsenals play as Ozil has been frozen out by both Arteta and Management. Smith-Rowe has sparked the creativity Arsenal have been lacking in their dire run of matches played. The 20-year got another assist and provided some delightful touches in the box setting up Saka’s goal. Perhaps Arsenal have no need to buy a creative midfielder in January. This is a good problem for Arteta.
For 19-year-old Bukayo Saka to be Arsenal’s best player in recent matches is a testament on how far he has come of age. Bukayo Saka produced another brilliant performance and the superb goal and all round play of Tierney denied him a hattrick of Man of the Match awards.
Kieran Tierney’s goal was a thing of beauty. It was as if he was telling his out of form captain how it should be done from the left wing. It was power, pace, finesse and precision. He deservedly got the Man of the Match award. He has created the most chances by a defender in the whole of the premier league in the month of December. BraveHeart!
Struggle as he may, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could not muster any of his magic which has deserted him since September. Try as he may, it was not his day. Many questioned why he was selected ahead of Martinelli, but a closer look would suggest Martinelli needs to be gradually eased back into the play. Aubameyang came close on several occasions but needs a goal now to get back his confidence. The Gabon striker must improve his game and score consistently to allow Arsenal finish anywhere decent in the top half of the table; top Six at least.
Alexandre Lacazette was a nuisance throughout the game, and he was rewarded with his two goals tally. His running on and off the ball was key to the victory as were Emile Smith-Rowe, Saka and Tierney
The mentality of the Arsenal team of old at the turn of the century where all players in attack and midfield could score seems to be gradually coming back. More games would let us know. Rob Holding and Pablo Mari seem to be forming a good partnership. In only Mari’s fourth Premier League start, he was composed on the ball and good in the air.
With Gabriel and Partey back, things can only look up for the Gunners
Bernd Leno: 6
Hector Bellerin: 7
Rob Holding: 7
Pablo Mari: 7
Kieran Tierney: 9
Dani Ceballos: 6
Granit Xhaka: 7
Bukayo Saka: 9
Emile Smith Rowe: 8
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6
Alexandre Lacazette: 9