Mesut Ozil needs to be wrapped in cotton wool, Theo Walcott can be at his most effective on the left flank and other things we learned from Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Ozil should go on holiday more often
Talk about the benefits of a bit of rest and recuperation. Last week, the party-loving German was happy to share with his millions of Instagram followers photographs of himself lying on a yacht somewhere warm and sunny. The mini-break during Arsenal’s eight-day gap between fixtures paid immediate dividends. Ozil, who has been the Gunners’ outstanding player this season, was excellent once again as he cut the City defence apart with his exquisite passing. He set up the opening two goals for Walcott and Olivier Giroud to lift his Premier League assists haul for the season to 15, within five of Thierry Henry’s record of 20 in a single campaign. Ozil is capable of obliterating the Arsenal legend’s haul. In addition to his matchless goal creating, the German has also weighed in with five goals this season. Wenger must wrap him up in cotton wool and regulate his game time appropriately.
Arsenal are a team to fear
Suddenly, Arsenal look the team to beat in this most fascinating of title races. City have the stronger squad, Manchester United the more expensively assembled group, Leicester the momentum, Chelsea the champion players and Liverpool and Tottenham the most exciting managers. But it is the Gunners who appear to have the best balance between defence and attack. Just as they were in the cauldron of Olympiakos 12 days ago, Arsene Wengers players were ruthless and impressively efficient in a marquee match. After a cautious start, they constructed two delicious goals to give themselves the platform they needed and then soaked up the pressure of the hosts in the second half, even subbing their flair players to get past the winning post. Yaya Toure’s delicious late goal demonstrated Aaron Ramsey’s defensive inadequacies but Wenger’s side did a job on their well-heeled visitors.
Kompany-less defence way out of its depth
In the absence of Vincent Kompany, City have a centre-back pairing costing over £70million and they are way out of their depth. In the absence of their leader, City’s defence has collapsed. Arsenal found chances and space easy to come by against Nicolas Otamendi and the especially error-prone Eliaquim Mangala. City have conceded 18 times in nine Premier League games without Kompany compared to just one goal relinquished in the eight with him. The Belgian is tentatively pencilled in to return to training this week. For those of a sky-blue persuasion, his restoration to the City back line cannot come quickly enough.
Left flank can be Walcott’s most dangerous position
There was more than a touch of the absent Alexis Sanchez, watching from the stands, in the way Walcott broke the deadlock with a goal of the highest class. The Englishman accepted Ozil’s short pass just inside the area on the left, cut on to his right foot and edged away from goal before unleashing a 20-yard screamer across goal and into the far corner. It was the type of net-burster that has become synonymous with Sanchez during his season-and-a-half in English football. Walcott has a decent scoring record at centre-forward and has performed with aplomb in his regular right-flank role but the left offers him those opportunities to find pockets of space and then cut quickly inside on to his favoured foot. Few right-backs would want to go one-on-one with Walcott in those situations.
Joe is having too many Hart-stopping moments
It is not hard to imagine what Hart must think of the defenders in front of him at the moment. A few expletives probably would not be far from his mind. The England No1 had the familiar experience of being forced to make a series of crucial saves just to keep his team in the game as the centre-backs and full-backs were cut open in front of him. These heart-stopping moments are keeping Joe on his toes but his status as one of the planet’s finest goalkeepers is growing more secure by the week.