Arsenal have managed to win 3 Premier league games in a row for the first time since February, 2019. Mikel Arteta's Gunners are finally starting to build some momentum in terms of results in the league. We sit precariously on 9th - 5 points behind 4th placed Chelsea and just 3 points behind 5th placed Wolves, which could prove to be the difference maker this season considering Manchester City's impending ban from the Champions league.
We have also kept 4 clean sheets in 10 league games under Arteta, eclipsing the 3 we kept in the league this season in the 18 game prior to his arrival. While some players need to be upgraded upon, we are implementing a good structure to build from and that is important for our long term project to deliver success.
Here's how the players fared (out of 10) from today's 1-0 win against West Ham:
#1. Leno - 8.5 - Pulled off a couple of outstanding saves which proved to be the difference in the end. A top class keeper, this type of performance has become routine for him since joining our club. He gets the plaudits when we win, but has also saved us on numerous occasions when we draw a match. His distribution was better today when he was forced to kick under a press - Most of his long kicks were accurate. He also dealt with set pieces fearlessly and effectively.
#2. Sokratis - 6.5 - Antonio's pace caused him problems and he did not offer much in attack - but when you consider he isn't a natural full back it is understandable. Was also unlucky not to score, hitting the crossbar. He's covered in well to allow Hector to rest and get back to fitness, so credit to him for sacrificing himself for the team's benefit.
#3. Luiz - 7.0 - Made a few crucial last ditch interceptions. As always, very composed on the ball, very vocal to those around him. Always willing to look for the forward runner. Usually plays at left centre half, but adapted well on the right. His experience and leadership has become crucial to the side.
#4. Mari - 6.5 - While his distribution was good, he had a shaky first half, but it is understandable. He is coming to a new league and the intensity and pace caught him by surprise, leading to him getting caught out of position on 2-3 occasions - one of them leading to a golden opportunity for Antonio to square it to Haller. However, he adapted well as the game went on. His starting position initially was very high, but when he realized that he could be done for pace, he adjusted accordingly and that is a good sign that he is willing to learn from a mistake.
#5. Saka - 7.0 - The 18 year old Hale end graduate continues to impress and keep developing his skill. Going forward, he has emerged as one of our most important outlets. He is always on the move off the ball and times his runs to perfection. His decision making today was top notch. There was a time in the second half where he glided past 3 players and set up a good chance for Eddie Nketiah. Also instrumental in the build up to Lacazette's goal.
#6. Xhaka - 6.5 - Not the Swiss International's greatest game, but still his importance to the midfield isn't to be understated. He has formed a nice partnership with Saka on the left side of midfield. There is a nice dynamic with Aubameyang coming on the inside ready to receive a pass with Saka making a run on the outside, with Xhaka picking those runs with pin point accuracy. He did give the ball away more than he normally does because today he played more in the middle. Usually, he is covering for Saka. Today Mari undertook that role, Luiz and Sokratis acting as centre backs. This allowed Xhaka to have more freedom to move into the final third and take more risks with his passes, which is a reason for a higher % of possession lost.
#7. Dani Ceballos - 9.0 - (MOTM) - Probably his best all round performance in an Arsenal shirt. He had most passes into the final third and was defensively at the level we want to see. I give him man of the match because his role today is very difficult. He needs to cover for a right back (Sokratis) who essentially fills in to help Luiz, whose partner on paper (Mari) is covering Saka. Ceballos matched Antonio 1 v 1. I am still raving about that all round display by Dani.
#8. Mesut Ozil - 7.0 - Some nice touches, some forward bursts which got him in dangerous positions. At times, he should have been more selfish and just had a pop. But his unselfishness was rewarded with a nice headed assist to Lacazette.
#9. Nicolas Pepe - 6.5 - Had a lively first half. Got into dangerous situations, but you feel that sometimes he tends to overplay in the final third. Wasn't helped by the fact that he no support from the full back. Ozil drifts into his zone, but they're both very left footed, so combination play can becomes difficult.
#10. Aubameyang - 6.5 - I prefer him at centre forward, but slowly warming up to the idea of him on the left with an all round centre forward supporting him. His inward movement is top notch and that allows space for Saka to run into. He's growing well into this role and his work ethic has become second to none.
#11. Nketiah - 6.5 - Struggled a bit with respect to his first touch in trying to hold the ball up for his teammates, but he always finds spaces to move into and arrive on the end of chances. Was unlucky not to score early on in the second half after being set up by Saka.
#1. Nelson - 6.5 - Nice cameo, gave us more balance. Helped out defensively and saw a powerful shot of his whiz past the bar.
#2. Lacazette - 8 - Came in the 59th minute and changed the game. Played with great intensity and initiative and supplied a scrumptious ball to Ozil who panicked. Took his goal nicely and won us the 3 points in the end.
#3. Bellerin - N/A - Came late on and look sharp, made a brilliant recovery tackle which reminded me of a tackle he made on Chelsea's Pedro back in 2016.