Last week was a mixed one for Arsenal, a 3-3 thriller away to Bournemouth ended up being a salvaged point, whilst Preston North End forced Arsenal to dig deep at Deepdale to win in the Third Round of the F.A Cup. One thing for sure is that we have seen Oliver Giroud demonstrate his value to the current squad.
Bournemouth away was an odd game, at 1-0 Xhaka gave away a soft penalty, and without giving that away we could’ve easily pulled level prior to half time setting us up for a more relaxing second forty-five. Instead we found ourselves 3-0 down after Bournemouth scored after the break. It is appalling that we found ourselves that far behind, weak defending and a lack of leadership are to blame. This Arsenal side is stronger than previous sides, that may have succumbed to a miserable defeat such as ones seen against the likes of Blackburn or Bolton away, instead they pulled together and produced an impressive fight back. Giroud was instrumental throughout with two assists and another goal. Lucas Perez scored a sublime goal too, that seems to have gone under the radar, despite the exquisite technique required to pull of such a finish.
While the comeback was admirable, it was desperately frustrating to find ourselves in such a position. Questions must be raised again about our title credentials, and following our tough Christmas and New Year period I do now believe we won’t lift the title come May. Whilst Liverpool suffered a similar feat against Bournemouth, it seems highly unlikely that Chelsea would find themselves in such a circumstance. We still lack a killer edge and defence confidence that will win a title.
Worryingly the same issues with our first half performance against Bournemouth, arose against Preston. In truth we were lucky not to be 2 or 3 down then too. Wenger’s team talk was obviously inspiring enough to lift the players out of their slumber and we played with much more attacking potency in the second half. Ramsey’s goal was well taken, after some fantastic hold up by Alex Iwobi, and Giroud’s goal was well crafted by Perez. In the next round we face either Norwich or Southampton away.
Giroud and Perez are the forgotten men this season who seemed to have formed a bond on the pitch, supplying goals to eachother recently. What most impressed me about Giroud though was his leadership qualities that have grown, and epitomise his growth as a player since joining the club. Whilst many prefer Alexis up top, Giroud is undoubtedly a fantastic asset to the club, and has proved his worth on many occasions.