On Saturday Arsenal beat Wolves 2-0 comfortably thanks to a brace from Robin van Persie. Van Persie scored in the 16th and 56th minute, notching his 10th goal in the last seven matches and 12th in all competitions.
Wenger made just one change from the team that imploded against Newcastle with the fit-again Alex Song coming in place of the suspended Abou Diaby. Johan Djourou was passed fit to start along with Koscielny in the heart of the Arsenal defense.
Arsenal showed no signs of a repeat of last week’s horror show, cruising to a comfortable and routine win over Wolves. The win puts them just four points behind Manchester United.
With Arsenal to play Barcelona on Wednesday, Arsene Wenger would have been extremely pleased with the performance of his side that showed defensive solidity and great attacking flair.
When Sven-Goran Eriksson selected Theo Walcott for the 2006 World Cup, great things were expected of the English winger. His hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb only heightened those expectations, but the sailing has not been exceptionally smooth for the youngster.
Throughout his career, Walcott has been a victim of constant injuries and inconsistency. The constant pressure of being in the limelight and criticism from all sides has never helped him fulfill his promise.
Walcott has had to live with people like Chris Waddle making claims that he doesn’t possess a footballing brain and the likes of Alan Hansen criticizing him, even after scoring a hat-trick against Blackpool.
Until this year, Walcott has been frustratingly inconsistent and there have been several question marks over his decision-making.
But this year, he has been an absolute revelation for the Gunners. Walcott has already notched up 11 goals and eight assists this season and is now a regular feature in Arsenal’s starting lineup.
He has produced man of the match performances against the likes of Chelsea, Blackpool and has been a constant threat down the right flank against every team.
Against Wolves he continually beat his marker, using his pace to good effect and set up van Persie’s second with a well-timed pass.
Walcott could have easily scored a brace himself. He was a great threat, especially towards the end as Arsenal looked to rip apart Wolves on the counter.
There were times when he showed a lack of proper judgment especially when presented with goalscoring opportunities, but on the whole it was a fine performance.
Walcott’s biggest asset is his searing pace and this season he has put it to great effect. But that has not helped in stopping the criticism. People still continue to question Walcott’s judgment.
It’s time for people to understand that he is just 21 years of age. This season, there has been a tremendous improvement in his game and the constant criticism can only do harm.
He is immensely talented and has a bright future ahead of him. Why try to kill something before it has had a chance to grow? Just let the kid play, something he is doing just fine.
Andrei Arshavin might have scored eight goals already this season and might have the most number of assists by an Arsenal player, but his performances have been hardly encouraging.
He has looked devoid of interest while playing and been sloppy when on the ball. Arshavin has lacked the spark while playing and has failed to dazzle.
He has been extremely inconsistent and has often missed simple chances.
But in the last few games, there has been an improvement in his game. He produced a brilliant cameo performance against Everton as he scored a goal and helped Arsenal win the match. Then against Newcastle he produced another improved performance, assisting in Djourou’s goal with a brilliant free kick.
But on Saturday against Wolves, he produced a great performance and looked finally back to his best. He constantly terrorized Zubar down the left and his trickery left the Wolves right-back gaping.
He made several impressive runs into the box and produced several good crosses which sadly produced nothing.
But Arsene Wenger would have been delighted with his rejuvenated performance and he finally looks like the Arshavin of old times.
Robin van Persie’s career has been constantly blighted by injuries to such an extent that he averages a paltry 15 games a season. Which is a shame considering how lethal he is when starting for the Gunners.
He picked up an injury in his first start against Blackburn and was out until December. Following his return he has been on fire and has been in scintillating form.
He has managed 10 goals already this season from just seven games. He scored braces against West Ham, Newcastle and managed another brace against Wolves yesterday. He also scored his first hat-trick against Wigan.
Van Persie is an extremely talented player who happens to be injured much too often. This season Berbatov is leading the goals scored charts with 19 goals. Van Persie is now making a late surge for the title after missing much of the season to injury.
It is a real shame considering the fact that he would have been easily contending for the Golden Boot had it not been for the injuries. He possesses a lethal left foot and has a fantastic free-kick.
His link-up play is fantastic and often drops deep, which gives the midfield players a great chance to venture out forward.
In front of goal he is absolutely ruthless and buries his chances with aplomb.
Van Persie possesses the skill to be compared to the likes of Messi, Ronaldo but injuries continue to hold the Dutchman back.
Last week Arsenal collapsed against Newcastle to draw the match 4-4 after leading 4-0. It was Djourou’s injury that was a major reason for the collapse.
Against Wolves, Djourou returned to the starting lineup and Arsenal kept their second clean sheet against Wolves to become the only top-six club to do so.
A good defense is not just one that is statistically good, but in order to be considered the best, the defense has to look solid and resist pressure without crumbling.
This is exactly the case when Djourou plays. Arsenal are composed and assured at the back and look like they are capable of repelling any attack.
Statistically Arsenal have been superb at the back this season with Djourou conceding just four goals in his presence, despite having their first choice centre back Thomas Vermaelen injured.
Seven of Arsenal’s nine clean sheets have come in the presence of Djourou.
Teams like Chelsea, Manchester United have conceded goals even with their best defenders featuring. Yet Arsenal with Djourou in the team rarely look like conceding and look superb at the back.
But let us not forget the contribution of the other two defenders.
Koscielny has gone from strength to strength in recent weeks, and in the presence of Djourou is justifying Wenger’s decision to play him and is showing that he can be one of the League’s top defenders.
Even Squillaci who has been poor this season, has looked not too bad with Djourou as his partner.
But right now Koscielny and Djourou have formed a fantastic partnership at the back conceding just one goal this year, which happened to be offside.
Arsenal in this form have the best defense in the league.
Fabio Capello, did you watch the match on Saturday?
Well, I sure hope he did.
Jack Wilshere, the savior of English football, put on a midfield master class and showed that his best position is in an attacking role and definitely not the Makelele role.
Fabio Capello had stated before the England vs Denmark friendly that Wilshere could fill in the Makelele role and would flourish in that position.
But on Saturday, Wilshere showed just where he belonged. He played with the composure and calmness that belied his age. He was absolutely unplayable at times weaving his way past countless Wolves defenders. Several times he picked out a fabulous pass that split the Wolves defense.
He put in several great balls into the box, and created a flurry of chances. He ventured out forward frequently and was unfortunate not to score.
After seeing his skill and technique, many were quick to call him the future of English football and rightfully so. But Wilshere is predominantly an attacking player, although he can tackle fairly well.
To get the best out of the youngster Capello has to play him in an attacking role but he continues to remain shortsighted and plays him in a defensive role.
Great things are expected from Wilshere but playing him in an attacking role will only let him flourish.