Saturday, 10 December 2016


Another victory for the Gunners maintains
their 14-game unbeaten run in the league,
with many players stepping up to the plate
to ensure their Spanish maestro isn't
missed Attacking fluidity - check. Three points -
check. Consistency - check. Top of the
league - check.
Arsenal's 3-1 victory over Stoke would
have been the perfect early Christmas
present for Arsene Wenger if it wasn't for
injuries suffered to the likes of Shkodran
Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez. The duo
hobbled off in the first and second half
respectively following reported hamstring
and knee problems.
But while it looks like more Gunners players
look set for a spell on the treatment table
during another key period of domestic
fixtures, Arsenal once again managed to
get the job done just days after securing
top spot in their Champions League group.
The absence of Santi Cazorla, who
described surgery on his ankle as
"perfect" last week, was expected to affect
Arsenal's manner of play and potentially
cost them the quick, attacking movement
which the Spaniard typically gave them
throughout last season.
Tuesday's European away win at a freezing
cold St-Jakob Park against Basel proved
that Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka is
ready to step up in place of Cazorla while
he is out. Despite possessing many of the
complete opposite traits to the 32-year-
old, Xhaka's unique passing abilities and
tendency to break up play in key areas has
already won him admirers from the north
London faithful at Emirates Stadium.
Xhaka's passing accuracy of 88 per
cent and two chances created are a
reminder of why Wenger brought him to
Arsenal for £30 million this summer. He
comes with a big reputation after
captaining Borussia Monchengladbach in
the Bundesliga and continues to improve
and adapt to the Premier League with every
game played. While Xhaka is fulfilling his own duties at
the heart of Arsenal's midfield alongside
Francis Coquelin, there are a host of other
players across the pitch who are making a
difference and strengthening the Gunners
title charge.
One of those is Theo Walcott. The England
forward's wife promised to buy him a a
coffee machine if he managed to score 10
goals before Christmas and on 42 minutes
Walcott edged into double figures with a
clipped finish from Hector Bellerin's
excellent cross. Walcott himself is the second highest
English goalscorer this season (7) behind
Jermain Defoe who has one more, but it's
the 26-year-old's 10 goal haul and pair of
assists this season which show his decision
to revert to his favoured position on the
right wing was the correct one. Walcott, Sanchez, Coquelin and Koscielny
are all key to Arsenal's turn of fortunes
recently and the improved form of Mesut
Ozil is another reason behind that renewed
form. Ozil scored eight goals in 45 games
last season but this campaign he has
already scored 9 goals less than half as
many games.
It's a magnificent showing from the
Germany international who has now added
goals to his game and continues to guide
Arsenal to a title charge which no-one can
have any doubt about now.

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