Arsenal: Wenger admits Gunners 'lost focus'; Ozil goal demands; Young goalkeeper linked
Arsene Wenger admitted that Arsenal lost their focus as they made heavy weather of a straightforward home game against Bob Bradley’s Swansea. The Gunners, reduced to 10 men after Granit Xhaka’s controversial red card, held out for a 3-2 win though to make it six straight Premier League wins.
Wenger’s team are the form outfit in the division, and with games against Middlesbrough and Sunderland to come they have the chance to cement themselves at the top of the table. A first half brace by Theo Walcott and a sumptuous volley by Mesut Ozil sealed the points, despite goals by Gylfi Sigurdsson and Borja Baston pegging them back.
Arsenal have recovered impressively from an opening weekend defeat to Liverpool, and are behind league leaders Manchester City on goal difference having been five points behind them after two games. Speaking after the match, Wenger admitted the game was a bit too easy for Arsenal at times:
“Yes, what looked to become a comfortable afternoon finished in a very uncomfortable way. But we just got over the line. I thought we played some fantastic football in patches but at 2-0 maybe we lost our focus a bit. After that, at 3-1, [it happened] again. When we were down to 10 men at 3-2, we could have scored the fourth goal but we could have conceded as well. In the end we just got over the line. We played together, with spirit until the end. It was difficult at the end.”
Arsenal’s new centre back pairing Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny have drawn plenty of praise recently, but it was one of the hosts looser defensive performances of recent times. Nacho Monreal had a particularly tough time against Barrow, and was left for dead in a few one against one scenarios.
Alex Iwobi has occupied Arsenal’s left flank, and his propensity to drift inside has left the Spanish full back a little more isolated. That is something Wenger will have to address, but the fact Arsenal are scoring goals with ease is a major reason to be cheerful. They got three more yesterday, and hit the woodwork on two occasions, despite never getting out of second gear.
There is no doubt that Ozil’s goal, Arsenal’s third, was the highlight of the day; a perfectly executed left foot volley following Alexis Sanchez’s looping cross. Wenger also expanded on his desire to see the German score more goals, and he also netted against Watford and Chelsea earlier in the season.
The former Real Madrid man has not been as prolific as usual in terms of assists, but that could be viewed as a positive. Arsenal were too reliant on Ozil to provide creativity last season, and their attack looks far more varied this term. The playmaker is still contributing, so there is no cause for concern over his lack of assists. Wenger said:
“When you see Ozil finishing today, you think a little bit that he doesn’t take his chances to shoot enough. When you see him in training, he scores basically when he wants. You speak with the keepers and he’s one of the most difficult players to predict where he’ll put the ball. In the game, I’m happy that he gets goals and I hope that gives him the taste to try more.”
Finally, L’Equipe are reporting that Arsenal are keeping tabs on 17-year-old Toulouse goalkeeper Alban Lafont. He is the youngest goalkeeper to have played in Ligue 1, with Porto and Juventus also on his tail. Lafont sounds very much like one for the future as far as Arsenal are concerned, but those within the club have been concerned about the form of Petr Cech.
This former Chelsea goalkeeper missed several weeks in the spring due to a calf injury, and has not quite been so assured since; his kicking in particular seems to have deteriorated.
Featured image: All rights reserved by arif_shamim
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