In the last edition of Good, Bad, and The Ugly, Mr. Also Named Phil opined that it was “[h]ard to imagine Arsenal will have a more comfortable win this season.” Boy, was he wrong. Yesterday, Arsenal thrashed Chelsea at The Emirates 3-0, ending a spell of bad form against that club and in said location. In honor of a thoroughly comprehensive victory, let’s focus on the nuances of our great performance, and not discuss the Bad and Ugly that was Chelsea.
Arsenal’s second goal. Shkodran Mustafi drives forward and passes to Theo Walcott. Theo to Santi Cazorla. Santi to Mesut Özil as Theo’s run occupies Cesar Azpilicueta. Özil to Alex Iwobi who immediately returns the pass. Özil back to Iwobi who turns and perfectly finds the onrushing Héctor Bellerín, who had been left by Eden Hazard. Héctor beautifully cuts back to an unmarked Theo who hammers it past Thibaut Courtois. Brilliance. As good a team goal as you’ll see all year.
Walcott’s overall performance. This may have been Theo’s best all-around match in an Arsenal shirt. Theo’s offensive output wasn’t anything extraordinary (a goal, a few other chances that Courtois saved well). Combined with non-stop defensive effort though? Spectacular performance and a large part in why Hazard and Azpilicueta had quiet nights. What a turnaround from Theo. This game was emblematic of his right wing renaissance.
The back line, specifically Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny. Mustafi and Koscielny did today what no Arsenal backline in recent history has: make Diego Costa a non-factor. Mustafi in particular was all over the past, making tackles left and right. The cherry on top was Koscielny’s tackle on Costa late in the match which so infuriated the Spaniard, he yelled and followed after the French defender, earning himself a yellow card and the silent treatment from Kos. Brilliant stuff.
Current status of the Alexis Sánchez as No. 9 conversion. After a bumpy start to the season, Arsene Wenger’s decision to convert Alexis into a center forward appears to be a masterstroke. The Chilean scored the first from sheer industry, a goal made purely by his determination, dribbling control, and finishing ability. He consistently pulled a normally organized, Conte-led defense around, opening holes for Walcott, among others, to operate in. His intelligent movement and final ball was integral in the third goal.
Özil’s turn on N’Golo Kante in the move that led to Arsenal’s third goal.
Petr Čech keeping a clean sheet against his former employers. While the results for Arsenal have been good of late, the Gunners haven’t been keeping clean sheets against top flight opposition. Today, they did, in large part to Čech’s excellent 1v1 save when Michy Batshuayi was through on goal.
Francis Coquelin’s knee injury. No matter your thoughts on our preferred central midfield partnership, Coquelin’s injury is a bummer. Here’s to hoping for a speedy recovery for Francis.