When you stop and consider we’re now just shy of having already played 20 percent of this season’s Premier League campaign, not only is it f*cking frightening how fast time flies, it’s not as early in the season as, to me at least, it feels.
So it was perhaps a little overdue that we clicked into gear and oh my did we do that in an attacking sense at the King Power stadium yesterday.
Alexis Sanchez finally appears to have overcome his lack of a proper pre-season and Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud have found their shooting boots, looking increasingly like the perfect duo to share the striker’s role this season (at least until Danny Welbeck returns at Christmas and we sign Robert Lewandowski in a shock January transfer that is). Pace, power, aerial ability, hold-up play and now clinical finishing – between them, we suddenly seem to have plenty of talent at the tip of our attack to cater for any opposition.
At the other end of the pitch, Petr Cech, after a nightmare performance on the opening day against West Ham, is playing much more like the imposing, world class, shot repelling Galactico Goalie we all thought we were getting when he signed in the summer. Speaking to Arsenal Player after yesterday’s game, Arsene Wenger called the win our best performance of the season ‘going forward’ and hailed his goalscorers on the day. He said:
Certainly it was the most convincing [display of the season] going forward, yes. It was a tricky game because Leicester hadn’t lost, and I was a bit concerned because we did not want to lose ground on the other teams – so it was a big win for us. I am pleased with [the strikers’] games. Giroud is sharp in training and in the matches as well, I think he played well at Tottenham. Walcott is improving game after game, he holds the ball better up front, his movement is great and both of them scored, which is what you want. I believe [Alexis] wasn’t back to his best after the Copa America, it took him a while to get his competitive edge and now he has played well again and he is back to his level.
The top of the table is tight, and after Man City’s start to the season suggested they may run away with it, consecutive defeats leaves the title race wide open. Leaders United are up next at the Emirates where a win would leave us level on points with them, Chelsea continue their flirtation with the relegation zone, Liverpool’s hopes of a first championship in decades is reliant on multiple implosions elsewhere and realistically nobody else has a hope in hell of being crowned champions, no matter how impressive their start (sorry West Ham).
All that said however, as results all over the league have already shown this season, there will be few easy games, if any, between now and May and attacking performances like yesterday’s need to become the norm rather than the exception if we’re to win it.
Per Mertesacker played his first Premier League game in a month at Leicester following illness and admitted the team had some defensive worries during the match but thinks we deserved our win overall. Speaking to Arsenal Player, he said:
We tried our best and in the second half we had more possession. We expected it to be tense before the game and we tried to match them physically and we did that, especially in the second half. We struggled defensively but I’d say we got back to our striking force and more than four goals is something very special. At times we lacked defensive stability but that is normal at Leicester. It was good for me to get some game time. I still lack a bit of fitness but it was good today. I say we deserved that especially after the second half.
Meanwhile, Theo Walcott called his own performance yesterday his best since returning from a long-term knee injury and also praised team-mate Sanchez, tipping the Chilean to continue contributing goals on a regular basis now he has broken his duck for the season:
It will be up there since the knee injury and, before that, the Tottenham game. I have always said I want to play up front. When I get the opportunity I can improve and learn the position a little more. The manager has had faith in me and I just want to repay him. He (Sanchez) is a top-quality player and even when he is not scoring goals he works so hard for us. He tracks back and does a lot for the team. I am sure he going to flourish now with many, many more important goals.
It’s Olympiakos up next in the Champions League on Tuesday night of course and the need for a win has been heightened after losing to Dinamo Zagreb so it will be interesting to see whether, and to what degree, the boss shuffles his pack. With the United game not until Sunday, my early guess would be that he’ll pick an unchanged line-up during the week (Flamini aside) before we entertain United late on Sunday afternoon.
See you next week.