A fine home display saw the Gunners dispatch Bulgarian side Ludogorets with little resistance. Arsenal started a bit loose and sloppy but slowly found their feet in the game and went into half-time 2-0 up, after two goals from Sanchez and Walcott. If they first-half was loose and sloppy, the second was anything but, Arsenal came out firing and were too much for the Bulgarian champions: Oxlade-Chamberlain finished well immediately after the half-time break while Ozil scored a superb hat-trick. So here are the four things we learned:
1. Ospina an Option?
With the Colombian’s arrival closely followed by Petr Čech, there seemed to be a noticeable deviation by the Gunners to solve their goalkeeping crisis. Yet tonight, David Ospina has reminded everyone why he is still vying for the number one jersey. With some incredible positioning, unorthodox saves and refusal to let a single second pass him by, the number 13 has showed both his experience and value to the Arsenal team. Having a healthy rivalry is good for any position, hence the Champion’s League and Premier League splits will do nothing but keep these two world class keepers on their heels. A ‘Man of the Match’ performance will boost Ospina’s confidence and only help in his bid to overtake the Czech in the starting XI.
2. Wins building confidence
There is a noticeable attitude change in Arsenal’s approach to games in recent time. Gone are the days of timid early attempts and loosely ended counters. Instead, here is a side able to not only convert possession into goals but to be able to easily, and sometimes effortlessly, increase these leads to see games out comfortably. This is a side winning their seventh game in a row, unbeaten in 11, and it shows. The confidence of the entire team both on and off the ball is refreshing, and witnessing Özil, Sanchez, Walcott and the Ox wreak havoc while Coquelin and Cazorla lock up shop is a thing of wonder when executed this way. A side that wins games will always have a chance for the title, but a side that has the ability to put teams to the sword will fare better.
3. Özil is an all-round threat
Having another seemingly slow game, the German playmaker got involved in the way he normally does – with ease and little effort. A few incredible passes, some breathtaking runs and first touches destined for the highlight reel, Özil really came alive in the second-half. Having forced Ludogorets into an uncomfortable position, the Bulgarian side were left with no choice other than launching into an attempt to salvage something from the game. Exploiting this, Mesut quickly slotted into acres of space left behind by the opposition, and began moving up the gears. First, a wonderful off-the-floor volley seemed like the perfect way for Arsenal to cap off a very impressive night. However, substitute Lucas Perez had other ideas and found Özil twice more for the German to finish with class and style and truly see this win out. Another world-class performance, another wonderful game for Mesut Özil.
4. Plenty in attack
Scoring six goals is good for any side, but having four of those goals each scored by a different member of the team shows both confidence and cohesion. The entire front four grabbed a goal on the night with Özil claiming the hat-trick and match ball, while Wenger’s boldness in converting Sanchez to a central striker seems to be paying off. Having brought calmness to attack through consistency, the Gunners now have at their disposal a lethal front line capable of adapting to any defence put in front of them. Direct runs, overlaps, delayed lung-busting runs into the box and intricate interchanges outside the box, along with the odd cross are only a handful of ways the front four have become accustomed to distributing their attacks and counters. Goal scoring confidence is always positive, and spreading this throughout the team can do nothing but help.
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