Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Arsenal 4 West Brom 1

Arsenal finished their Premier League campaign in style after beating West Brom 4-1 thanks to Theo Walcott's hat-trick and Jack Wilshere's MOTD goal-of-the-season winner. Prior to the game, Arsene Wenger dismissed any concern about his side's goalless run of three consecutive home games and his belief in his side was vindicated. Going into the game, the Gunners only needed to avoid a heavy defeat to ensure automatic Champions League qualification, 3 points and 7 goals above fourth-placed Manchester United, but they showed that they wanted more than required.

Arsene Wenger made three changes from the side that started in a goalless draw with Sunderland at the Emirates 4 days ago with a view to freshening up his side ahead of the big game in the following week. Theo Walcott earned the first start since March at the expense of Olivier Giroud, who in turn dropped to the bench, while Francis Coquelin was reinstated after being rested in the mid-week game. Gabriel came in for Laurent Koscielny. Given last year's precedent in which Wenger fielded then-Cup keeper, Fabianski, between the sticks in the final game of the Premier League campaign ahead of the Cup final, we thought the goal keeper selection on this day might give us some indication for the Cup final. As it turned out, David Ospina kept his place. Among the subs' bench were Wojciech Szczesny, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Danny Welbeck will not feature for his club or country again this season due to the bone bruising of the knee.

The first half showcased Arsenal's free-flowing football. Walcott smashed his 4th-minute attempt into the net via the underside of the cross bar. 10 minutes later, his determination won him a second goal with a toe-poke. Wenger's men were playing with tempo and intensity. In the 17th minute, a corner was cleared only for Gabriel to find Wilshere, whose volley from the edge of the box flew into the top corner. Walcott's curling effort was denied by a superb save from Myhill, but the England forward did not wait too long to complete a hat-trick. In the 37th minute, after some lovely build-up involving Wilshere and Alexis, Cazorla's low cross (or a shot dragged wide?) was met by Walcott, who timed his run perfectly to just tap the ball into the net.

It's always difficult to maintain the tempo and intensity after such a mesmerizing first-half, when you are cruising with a 4-goal cushion. West Brom got a goal back before the hour mark. Wenger decided to give Ramsey and Giroud a run-out for the remaining 20 minutes, which was a cue for Theo's withdrawal from a successful afternoon. Jack Wilshere was also taken off in the 76th minute to give way to the fit-again Ox. Ramsey went close to add to Arsenal's goal tally twice only to be denied by the post and then the finger-tips of Myhill before hitting the frame of the goal once again.

It was a perfect way to warm up for the following weekend's FA Cup final. The game was open and we found acres of space in West Brom's midfield. Theo demonstrated what he is capable of, when he finally got a starting spot. In the past few games when the England forward came on as a sub, the team struggled to adjust themselves to play on his strength. However, as Wenger praised the team, they adapted to the quality of their front man, while Theo responded with good movements to his team-mates' efforts. In the past few games, Arsenal's shot-shy tendency was criticised, but Theo's directness was richly rewarded in this game. Now a big question rises as to whether he should retain his place in the starting XI against Aston Villa? As Wenger remains tight-lipped on his team, Tim Sherwood has to keep guessing our starting line-up until shortly before the kick-off. It is good to have different attacking options and that the team can play different types of football, depending on the strength of their front man.

In the season when a top-four race appeared to have been even more intense than the past years at times, Arsenal ended third, 4 points behind second-placed Man City and 5 points ahead of fourth-placed Man United. It is too early to assess their season just yet. The outcome of the FA Cup final will have a significant sway on that.

Players ratings

Ospina: 5
Beaten by Gareth McAuley to Chris Brunt's corner, allowing him to head the ball into the empty net. He should have stayed on the line if he was unable to get to the ball. Had a heart-stopping moment in the 90th minute when Craig Gardner's shot burst through the hands of the Colombian keeper thankfully before the ball hit the cross bar and flew over.

Bellerin: 7

Made 2 tackles, 1 interception, and 2 clearances. Shown a yellow card.

Metesacker: 7
He was on a mission to score on today and was unlucky not to score with a shot on target. Made 3 interceptions.

Gabriel: 8
Claimed an assist for Jack Wilshere's goal. Made 1 tackle, 3 interceptions, and 9 clearances. He looked more comfortable on the ball with an improved passing accuracy of 98.2%.

Gibbs: 7

Made 3 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 1 clearance. Was not troubled.

Coquelin: 7
Only made 1 tackle and 2 interceptions, but the team looked better balanced with him in it.

Cazorla: 8

Made more passes (123) than any other player in a single game this season and that was accompanied with an impressive 91.9% passing success rate. Provided 2 assists for Walcott. 

Wilshere: 8
Scored a screamer from the edge of the box. Had a good game.

Özil: 7
Created a massive 6 chances. He even made 3 tackles! The German international and Cazorla were joint second in terms of the distance covered (10.7 km) after West Brom's Saido Berahino (11.1 km)

Alexis: 7

Had 5 shots, 2 of which were on target, creating 4 chances for his team-mates. 

Walcott: 9
Had 8 shots, 6 of which were on target and scored his third hat-trick. Unanimous Man of the Match. Received a standing ovation when he came off the pitch in the 68th minute, replaced by Giroud.


Ramsey: 7
Replaced Coqulin in the 68th minute. Injected some energy and got into the great positions. Unlucky not to score. Had 3 shots, two hit woodwork 1 of which were on target, making 2 key passes.

Giroud: 6
Came off the bench to replace Walcott in the 68th minute. Little impact. Had 9 touches and 1 aerial duel won.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6
Replaced Wilshere in the 76th minute. Great to see him back on the pitch. Had 1 shot.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Manchester United 1 Arsenal 1

Arsenal took a step closer to a top-three finish by holding fourth-placed Manchester United to a draw. We could have won the game if we had started the game in the way we finished it, but a point was the fair result. Although we were not able to achieve a feat of two wins at Old Trafford in one season, the way we played in the last 30 minutes gave us some confidence that we may have finally lifted the mental block against our old rivals.

Arsene Wenger fielded the same 11 starters for the sixth league game in a row. If Danny Welbeck had been available, the Frenchman would have been tempted to set up a counter-attacking unit centring around the England international, which proved successful in the FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford. However, the Manchester-born 24-year-old had been ruled out after failing to recover in time for the chance to face his old club.

Despite the absence of Welbz, Arsenal adopted the same gameplan in the opening stages. We expected the hosts to hold the large share of possession before the game, which was part of our gameplan, but our ball retention was very poor, with an overall passing success rate well below our standard at 77% (even after the more positive second-half). The Gunners struggled to find their own players as they were stretched all over the pitch. We were frustrated with the lack of sharpness in our team. After the match, Nacho Monreal confessed that the first half was arguably the worst 45 minutes the team had played this season and that the boss was unsurprisingly angry at half time. Ander Herrera took his goal very well, but it was a very disappointing goal in our point of view. Coquelin's failed attempt to intercept the ball to Fellaini triggered the movement leading to the goal. After receiving the ball from the Belgian, Young escaped Bellerin, allowed to deliver a cross over to the far post, where Herrera was waiting in acres of space as Monreal was drawn to Fellaini in the centre of the box. At the other end, Arsenal failed to muster a single shot in 45 minutes, the first time since November 2004.

Arsenal improved as the game went on in the second half. Ramsey had a great chance after Alexis' through-ball found him. He did well to beat De Gea with the lofted ball only to be denied by Rojo's last-ditch tackle. Wenger introduced Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere in the 73rd minute. The latter injected intensity into the game, while the former made a big contribution by taking his chance, which led to the Gunners' equaliser. Some match report describe the England forward's effort as a "cross" deflecting off Blackett, but according to Theo himself, it was a goal attempt. He deserved the goal by being direct when other Arsenal players were reluctant to be so. Unfortunately to him, the goal is likely to be recorded as Blackett's own goal, subject to the dubious goal panel's decision.

Wenger's substitutions were late as usual, but they were untypically reactive. The Frenchman took Bellerin and Cazorla off, both of whom were struggling in this game. Francis Coquelin was moved to the right-back, while Aaron Ramsey was shifted to his preferred more central position. True to his words after the Swansea game, the French tactician replaced Alexis with Mathieu Flamini in the 90th minute as he settled for a draw.

As for the referee, it was a usual Mike Dean, our bogie referee. Chris Smalling nearly stripped off Giroud's shirt, but no penalty was given, which came no surprise to us.

Prior to the game, some of us were confident that we could repeat the feat in our FA Cup quarter-final encounter with Man United despite the north west side going into the game as favourites on their home advantage. However, Old Trafford is still a tough place to go, with Chelsea claiming just one point and Man City losing 4-2 there this season. Although it was a depleted Man U side without Roony or Carrick, a point was not a bad result by any means (Wenger suggested that a draw would be counted as a positive result they were targeting prior to the game) and our players seemed to be happy to go home with it.

Arsenal's first-half display may not have completely eliminated our concerns after the Swansea game, but they can build on their performance in the last 30 minutes. Another point will almost see us secure automatic Champions League qualification as we have a superior goal difference over Man U. As a point will also be enough for Sunderland to guarantee next season's top-flight football and the last thing they want is to lose emphatically to further worsen their goal difference over 18th-placed Hull, a tight game is expected on Wednesday night. We have a chance to put things right where we were at fault against Swansea. As we only need two points from our two remaining games to mathematically secure the third place, Wenger may well be tempted to tweak his starting line-up this time around, which is not a bad idea as we need to keep our best players fresh for the Cup final and give some players much-needed game time.

Players ratings

Ospina: 6
The goal was unstoppable (although it was his near-side) and Man U's other 3 shots were fairly comfortable saves.

Bellerin: 5

Had a hard time against Ashley Young. Made a good recovery and rescued the team from potential danger on one occasion, but his passing completion rate of 69% was poor. Rightly replaced by Walcott in the 73rd minute.

Metesacker: 6
Made no tackle, no interception and 4 clearances, but won 5 aerial duels.

Koscielny: 7
Our best defender. Kept quiet Falcao, who kept him on his toes through his clever runs, and then RVP. Made 3 tackles, 4 interceptions, 4 clearances, and 2 blocks. Without his heroics, we could have easily lost this game in the first half.

Monreal: 6

He was culpable for Herrera's goal by allowing so much space for him at far post. Made 3 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 6 clearances.

Coquelin: 6
Battled bravely, but he was caught out of position in the build-up to Man U's goal. Made 2 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 2 clearances.

Cazorla: 5

Poor game by his standard. Rightly replaced in the 73rd minute by Jack Wilshere.

Ramsey: 7
Arsenal fans' chosen Man of the Match and our best player according to with a 7.37 rating. His cross-field pass found Theo Walcott, leading to the equaliser. He struggled in the first half like everybody else in the team, but had a good second-half, especially alongside Jack Wilshere at the heart of Arsenal's midfield, which is an encouraging prospect for the club.

Özil: 6
He had a goal-scoring chance for himself after Giroud clearing the space for him, but opted to pass to the Frenchman. On the other hand, he created 3 goal-scoring chances for his team-mates.  

Alexis: 6

His bad habit of holding the ball too long was evident in this game. Replaced by Flamini in the 90th minute.

Giroud: 6
Had 2 good chances in the closing stages, but his poor touch let him down.


Walcott: 6
Replaced Bellerin in the 73rd minute to take the right-wing position. His directness led to the equaliser.

Wilshere: 6
Came off the bench to replace Cazorla in the 73rd minute. He looked ready to start.

Flamini: N/A
Replaced Alexis to shore up the defence in the 90th minute.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Arsenal 0 Swansea 1

Arsenal's aspiration for a top-two finish was dealt a blow as the north London club suffered the first defeat in their last 10 games in the Premier League. We are no longer in the driving seat in the race for second place, a highest finish in a decade, as second-placed Manchester City extended their advantage on goal difference as well as on points a day earlier courtesy of the atrocious QPR defence. However, what disheartened us most was our team's dismal performance rather than the result or its implications. It was only 7 days ago that we were impressed with the best of their attacking football and some incredible individual techniques, but a week later, they turned up with such a weak performance. It took us a couple of days to recover from the disappointment.

Arsene Wenger named the unchanged starting XI for the 5th consecutive time in the league, which had never happened in more than 20 years. The fact speaks volumes for the current stability in the team backed by the favourable injury situation in the last few months. Going into the game, Aaron Ramsey was a major doubt after suffering a blow to the fibula during the Hull game, but the Welshman overcame the injury and was passed fit. On the other hand, the Ox, Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, and Danny Welbeck were still out. Gabriel, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Flamini, and Tomas Rosicky were among the bench.

We struggled to understand why Arsenal started the game so slowly. Prior to the game, both Mertesacker and Koscielny stated that the key to their successful run of games lay in their fast start to  games. Despite their remarks, Arsenal moved the ball slowly in the first half, in particular at the back, with many passes going sideways or backwards. There was little movement from our attacking players in the final third, hence no penetration into the box. After the match, Wenger said "it sometimes takes a half to get into the right rhythm", but if Arsenal were dictating the game, they should have been able to impose their game and control the tempo as well. Arsenal's encounters with the Welsh side traditionally produced few first-half goals. Was the patience game a part of Wenger's game plan?

After the game, the Frenchman accused Gary Monk's side of "refusing to play". However, they were not the first team that have come to the Emirates and parked the bus and will not be the last. Arsenal have to learn how to break down organised and compact defence if they are to challenge for the title next season. In fact, we had enough chances in the second half to win the game, but this time we had to pay for our attacking players' profligacy in front of goal, unlike the Hull game when we could get away with it.

In the post-match press conference, the French tactician also emphasised the importance of not losing when unable to win, regretting the costly defensive error. A point would have left us still in charge of our own destiny for a top-two finish with a game in hand. Despite the boss' post-match comment, his withdrawal of Francis Coquelin in the 67th minute to bring on Jack Wilshere sent out the wrong message, when the introduction of fit-again Bafetimbi Gomis was still on the card for Swansea. Gary Monk once again outsmarted his experienced counterpart as the French striker's late goal broke our heart one more time this season. Now hopefully, Wenger will remind all his players how important not losing is ahead of their clash with Manchester United. A draw at Old Trafford and a win over either Sunderland or West Brom will ensure the last automatic Champions League qualification place.

Arsene Wenger tried a Plan B by introducing Theo Walcott in place of Olivier Giroud. The England forward is certainly a different attacking option, but the team continued to play in the same way, delivering crosses, especially from the right wing, and long corners with no target man to aim at.

Swansea's defensive performance earned plaudits from the media as well as Arsene Wneger, but it was helped by the referee Kevin Friend's generous approach in the early stages. Fernandez's nasty challenge on Giroud from behind escaped a booking, while Shelvey's robust tackle on Alexis only ended up with a yellow card. On separate occasions, Alexis and Giroud were manhandled in the box during set-pieces. Swansea's time-wasting tactic was obvious from the first half. There were at least 2 lengthy treatments during the first half, but the ref only added 2 minutes to the end of first half. Moreover, he didn't allow any discretion beyond 4 minutes of second-half stoppage time when a play was still continuing. He was no Friend of ours. That's for sure.

Similarly, Fabianski was named Man of the Match on the back of a string of his saves, but Arsenal 's poor finishing helped him as well. Although the ex-Gunner's double save looked stunning, both efforts from Alexis and Theo were straight at the keeper. As Arsene Wenger told, the Pole –now Poland's No. 1– did well, but our players made it too easy for him on some occasions.

The biggest talking point of this game was arguably the importance of the goal-line technology. Without it, Swansea's winner would probably have not been given. Both David Ospina and the assistant referee (and probably the referee initially) thought the Arsenal keeper saved it off the line. Wojciech Szczesny was also on the losing side of the goal-line technology in the FA Cup semi-final against Reading, conceding the first ever FA Cup goal given by the technology. These experiences could change goalkeepers' awareness in the future.

It was a disappointing display from the Gunners, but one defeat does not bring a crisis, especially after an 11 unbeaten run of games in all competitions. Hopefully, our team will respond by turning up with a good performance on Sunday. There is no better stage for that than Old Trafford. Man U will certainly come out to attack us at home in front of the home crowd. Besides, a point is not good enough for them. We have to be at our best again.

Players ratings

Ospina: 6
When Ashley William's long ball fell in the path of Nathan Dyer, he was quick to come off the line to head the danger away. Although he was not culpable for not coming out to claim for Montero's cross, Gomis' tame header was stoppable.

Bellerin: 6

Dealt with Montero better than Chambers did in the reverse fixture, but he was dispossessed by the Ecuadorian in the Swansea half. Luckily, Ramsey covered to rescue the situation. 

Metesacker: 6
He should have been able to defend Montero's cross if he had jumped.

Koscielny: 6
He was a major culprit for Swansea's goal as he shouldn't have lost Gomis. Apart from the goal, he won most of the long ball for Gomis, winning 6 aerial duels, making 1 tackle, 6 interceptions and 1 clearance.

Monreal: 7

His mistake led to the build-up of Swansea's winner, but he made 6 interceptions. His angled shot, one of our better efforts, was denied by Fabianski after a great run into the box. 

Coquelin: 6
Not his kind of game with only 1 interception made, but he should not been sacrificed for an attacking option.

Cazorla: 7

Had 7 shots, 2 of which were on target.

Ramsey: 6
Had 5 shots, 1 of which were on target. He had one of our best chances, but his shot hit the side-netting, when he had an option to pass to two other players in the box. His finishing left a lot to be desired on this day.

Özil: 7
Made more passes (107) than any other players on the pitch, including 5 key passes, with a 93.5% accuracy. He was our best player according to's rating. 

Alexis: 6

Had 4 shots, 2 of which were on target. 

Giroud: 6
Had an early chance only to loop his header over the roof of the net from Ramsey's cross. Had 3 shots, 1 of which was on target. Another tough game for him as he was tightly marked by centre-backs, being fouled on. Replaced by Walcott in the 69th minute.


Wilshere: 6
Replaced Coquelin in the 67th minute. Another effective substitute appearance. Made 5 key passes.

Walcott: 5
Came off the bench to replace Giroud in the 69th minute. He could not even beat the keeper when  on the floor, however he was much more mobile than the statuesque Giroud.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hull City 1 Arsenal 3

St Totteringham's Day is here again for 20th year in a row. After Man City's 1-0 victory over Tottenham on Sunday, we needed at least a point to secure a finish above our north London rivals. Not only did we fulfill the requirement, but did it in style. A 3-1 victory at the KC Stadium saw us move level with second-placed Man City on points and 5 points clear of fourth-placed Man United, having played a game less. Arsenal all but secured a place in the Champions League for the 18th consecutive year as they are now 9 points and 22 goals above fifth-placed Liverpool who have just 3 games remaining to make up the gap.

 Arsene Wenger named an unchanged side that started in a goalless draw with Chelsea last weekend. Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs, Gabriel, Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott occupied the subs' bench. Danny Welbeck was conspicuous by his absence, having not travelled due to an inflamed knee. Amid a rumour that he might not play again for his club this season, Wenger made it clear after the match that the England striker's injury is a question of days.

In fact, Arsenal's perennial injury problems have much eased in recent weeks, with a number of players coming back to fitness. So much so, Arsene Wenger started talking about his team selection dilemma last week. According to the Frenchman's weekly pre-match injury updates, the only doubt was Mathieu Debuchy's fitness after suffering a slight hamstring strain in training. Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had already been in full training, but were still short of match fitness for this fixture. Even the injury set-back of our first-choice right-back did not worry us too much. Such was the depth of the squad at the moment.

As Arsene Wenger described this game as "a big challenge" in his pre-match press conference, we expected it to be a tough game. The Frenchman was full aware of the threat of Hull's wide men, in particular, Elmohamady, and their January signing, N'Doye. Hull were full of confidence on the back of back-to-back victories, including a shock 1-0 defeat of Liverpool midweek. Despite the two straight wins, they were still in the relegation battle, while it was needless to say that they were looking to take revenge on last season's FA Cup final and this season's third round. Pre-match talks were focused on how to break down Hull's stubborn defence. However, such concern was blown away in the first half as Arsenal started dominating the game with purpose and energy. Scoring the first goal is always crucial to unlock resolute defence. Arsenal took the lead in the 28th minute through Alexis' free-kick via a deflection on an ex-Tottenham player, Michael Dawson. In fact, the goal involved all three ex-Spurs players on the pitch, including him. The other two were Tom Huddlestone who was robbed in possession and Jake Livermore who gave away a free-kick with his foul on Alexis (he was lucky to stay on the pitch).

After the match, the Arsenal coach said, "the surprising thing of the night is that we scored the goal that we didn't necessarily deserve to score and we missed the chances we should have scored". Our second goal was fortuitous, too, as it also took a deflection, but how Aaron Ramsey took the goal cushioned the ball and turned as well as Santi's pin-point 50-yard pass with his left foot, deserved a goal. We cannot ignore the role Giroud played in the build-up of this goal, either. The France striker did not have much luck in front of goal throughout the night, marked by three centre-backs, but he drew McShane to the left-hand side to create acres of space for Rambo to exploit. Arsenal's third also came from a great combination play. Özil won possession in the midfield before finding Ramsey. The Welshman's perfect pass then released Alexis behind defence before the Chilean rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into the empty net in stoppage time of the first half.

Hull got a goal back 12 minutes into the second half, which raised the home crowd's hopes of comeback. The hosts rallied following the goal, but Arsenal did not panic. They also looked dangerous every time they broke. Many heaped their praise for our first-half display, but in fact, there were as many brilliant attacking moments in the second half as in the first half, if not more. The reasons why we failed to add to the goal tally in the second half were Steven Harper's heroics and our profligate finishing. Özil's back-heel flick to Alexis on the left wing was one of those moments as well as Giroud and Ramsey's clever one-two. The Gunners' stunning interchange in the final third, as well as some breath-taking individual skills, were a joy to watch.

We also had two penalty claims turned down. Jack Wilshere was blatantly pushed in the box by Chester who had no intention of going for the ball. Then, the England midfielder's goal-bound effort was blocked by Chester's spreading arm. While Wilshere was appealing for a handball, Alexis pounced on the rebound only to be saved by Harper.

It was a shame that we could not keep a clean sheet. Koscielny was brought down by Meyler, a foul that left the French centre-back on the floor. However, the referee gave nothing for the challenge, with the game continuing without Koscielny, who would have most likely prevented Quinn from heading Elmohamady's cross.

There are a few positives to take away from this game apart from the result. It was great to see Arsenal's free flowing football at its best, especially after last weekend's goalless draw. Arsenal can be dangerous on the break when the opponents are not determined to play for a 0-0 draw. Hull needed a win to get out of the relegation mix, which made them vulnerable.

Jack Wilshere's return to the first-team action was another boost. The England midfielder made an impression, coming off the bench. Arsene Wenger was pleased with the return of his "burst", but when we saw Jack brought down just outside Hull's box after his trade-mark jinking dribble, we thought that Jack was truly back. Many Arsenal fans probably feared of all too familiar injury scenario, but we lamented his bad habit of holding the ball until he hits the wall of defenders. He hasn't changed a bit! But he climbed to his feet straight away. Overall, he looked sharp and it was an encouraging performance on his first game after his injury in November.

Arsenal's convincing display on this day seemed to have put down a marker for the next season's title challenge as it changed many pundits's opinions for positive. Now a home clash with Swansea City awaits next Monday. We have to put things right from our 2-1 defeat at the Liberty Stadium and of course, three points will be paramount in the race for a top-two finish.

Players ratings

Ospina: 6
With Hull registering only one shot on target, he had little to do. His distribution is becoming monotonous these days, relying on Giroud too much.

Bellerin: 7

Looked confident and had good game both offensively and defensively, but allowed too many crosses in from his side for our liking. Fortunately, only 2 of Brady's 9 crosses were successful.

Metesacker: 7
Kept Hull's two strikers quiet between him and Koscielny. Won 4 aerial duels.

Koscielny: 7
Solid. There is no coincidence in Hull scoring their only goal while he was on the floor.

Monreal: 7

Made 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 6 clearances. Overlapped well with Alexis.

Coquelin: 7
His misplaced pass nearly cost us a goal, but put in some crucial tackles in our midfield. Had a rough treatment by the opposition players and our keeper, but to our relief, he carried on playing. Made an impressive 6 takcles, 3 interceptions and 2 clearances.

Cazorla: 9

Sky Sport and Arsenal fans' Man of the Match. He claimed an assist through his incredible raking pass to set up Aaron Ramsey's goal. Made 106 passes, including 4 key passes, with a highly impressive 94.3% accuracy.

Ramsey: 7
Scored his 10th goal of the season and made an assist for Alexis with his incisive pass to release the Chilean behind the defenders. Although he was highly praised for his goal and assist, his passing left something to be desired at times. That said, statistically, his passing success rate of 89.3% is not shabby at all.

Özil: 8
Continued his fine form. He showed his class.

Alexis: 9

Stats-based's Man of the Match. Scored his 23rd and 24th goals of the season that took his league goal tally to 16. Had 8 shots, 4 of which were on target, and created 3 chances. Won as many (3) aerial duels as Giroud. Wenger praised the Chilean's performance this day, especially for the good mix of his play. The Frenchman is aware of Alexis' tendency to over dribble. In this game, the Chilean played within Arsenal's system. He had a couple of chances to complete a hat-trick.

Giroud: 7
Not his best game, but he still worked hard for the team. Replaced by Walcott in the 85th minute.


Wilshere: 7
Replaced Ramsey in the 67th minute. 

Walcott: 6
Came off the bench to replace Giroud in the 85rd minute. When he had a glorious chance to score, he fluffed the line. His finishing looked rusty.