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Slowly but surely, making himself undroppable

The first match after the close of the transfer window in which we smashed almost every single barrier that used to hold against us. Mesut Özil made his competitive bow for Arsenal and we came away with 3 points from the Stadium of Light. Which temporarily puts us on top of the table, a place that has been a stranger to us in recent times. If any Gooner can’t look at the table now and raise a smile, you need to start looking at the lighter side of life.

Another away win and goals from the 2 different sources who have continued their good form since the start of the season. That would be looking at just the result but the performance left a lot to be desired.

Major difference between 1st half and 2nd half
The difference couldn’t be more stark. From total control in the first half to being pegged back and having to spend more time defending in the the second half. Perhaps it’s the travelling from the international matches which have taken it’s toll on the team, hence the drop in energy in the 2nd half.

Failing to kill off the opponent
We have to be more clinical in front of goal. Özil was bought for a reason and his through-balls were right on the dot, with great precision. I hope the forwards doesn’t think that Özil can produce those passes at will, and as such, isn’t undeterred by the misses. Had we converted the chances created, second half would be a stroll and maybe chances of injury could have been reduced.

Confusion in defence
The main idea here that I’ve seen many proposed is that we were missing Per Mertesacker in that defence. Which is a fair point. Without him, we looked in disarray at the back. The German centre back, seemingly earning more appreciation when in absence. To be fair though, Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny haven’t played together competitively and that hampered us a little. Someone need to pull Koscielny aside and remind him not to give referee such an easy decision to make.

Lack of options on the bench
Hopefully Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky comes back into contention soon. With everyone fit, we have lots of options, that goes without saying. On Saturday, when Sunderland were all over us at the start of the second half, there was no change that we could make to that midfield to give us more protection and/or to wrest control of the game back. We had to rely on the players on the pitch to turn it around again and thankfully, we did.

Having mentioned all the negatives, it would be remiss not to touch on the positives. Olivier Giroud continued his fine form, hitting his fifth goal, averaging just under a goal a game since the start of the season. The way he took the goal, showed the confidence flowing through him at the moment. Had it been last season, he might have needed another touch and the chance to score might have been closed down by the defender closing in.

When we look at how well Özil did, it is hard to contain the excitement of how well we can do if he remains throughout the season. Add to the fact that he was supposedly ill last weekend, makes his debut match all the more encouraging. The control and pass that set up the opening goal for Giroud was a touch a class. That moment of brilliance that we saw only from Santi Cazorla last season.

For someone playing in his first league match in a different country, with players whom he barely knew, it was a mark of his quality as a player. I’m hoping beyond hope that Arsene Wenger takes in what contribution a player of his ilk can produce and the effect upon the rest of his team. One only has to see the comments afterwards from the other players, every single one enthusing about Özil.

No, I haven’t forgotten about Aaron Ramsey.

He gets a lot of accolade these days and every single one of them warranted. I wrote this almost 2 years ago and I stand by it (it does feel good to be proved right, I’m allowed to gloat one time). In that piece, I picked on his shooting accuracy and passing decisions as those that he can improved on. Lately, we seen how well Ramsey does in terms of decision making whether to increase or slow down the game. His passing has also improved, even when it’s those aimed at longer distance.

More than most, he is starting to show what he can do in front of goal. So far, he has the same number of goals that Giroud has. That’s not to say that he will finish or even matched the Frenchman’s numbers come the end of the season. We saw previously how Cesc Fabregas improved from someone who could supply the ammunition to adding goals into his repertoire and that is exactly what Ramsey is doing. It has taken a few years since that “incident at Stoke” for Ramsey to finally show what the is capable of.

Still plenty of improvement to be done to the team, particularly the defence but I’m sure we are all encouraged by the recent run of results. Long may that continue.