Arsenal continued their amazing run of form last night with a 3-1 win against Leicester at the Emirates. They’ve now won 10 consecutive games in all competitions, with seven consecutive in the league. The win sees the Gunners move back into fourth, and above rivals Tottenham. They’re only behind Chelsea on goal difference, and sit just two points behind leaders Manchester City and Liverpool. It’s been a very impressive start to the season for Arsenal, especially after losing their first two games. Not many would have predicted that they’d go on this kind of run.
The game will be remembered for Arsenal playing some slick, attacking football and really hurting Leicester in the second half. But the game didn’t start smoothly for them, and Leicester were by far the better team for the first 30 minutes. The Foxes deserved their goal after 31 minutes, as a Ben Chilwell effort came off Hector Bellerin and went in. Leicester had quite a few chances before that, and should have had a penalty when Rob Holding handled in the box. The defender was also on a yellow card at the time: he could have been off. Arsenal couldn’t really get into the game before Leicester scored, and struggled to keep them out. Bernd Leno had to make a couple of decent saves.
When Leicester opened the scoring, they began to sit back. This may be expected, but trying to get at a wounded Arsenal team that didn’t look anywhere near its best may have been a better option. The Gunners were really struggling, and if Leicester had kept going, they could have scored again. It could be said that Arsenal didn’t let them go again, though. They really did wake up after the goal and start to play some good football. Just before half-time, the Gunners were level. Bellerin, making up for the own-goal, got forward. He squared it to Mesut Ozil in the box, who wonderfully opened his body up and calmly finished into the bottom corner. It was a great goal.
Arsenal came out on top in the second half, but it was after 60 minutes that things really changed. Unai Emery made a double change: Matteo Guendouzi replaced the largely ineffective Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replaced the struggling Stephan Lichtsteiner, who was filling in at left back. In one of the strangest moves ever, Granit Xhaka moved out to left back. It was strange to see him there, but they got away with it.
Just three minutes later, Arsenal were ahead. Some brilliant play by the Gunners saw Ozil play a wonderful ball in behind the defence for Bellerin, who squared it for substitute Aubameyang, who was playing as left winger. The Gabon international had the easiest of tasks, tapping in.
The Gunners weren’t finished there though. Just three minutes had passed, and they were at it again; scoring one of the best team goals you’ll see this season. Lucas Torreira played it into Ozil, who wonderfully flicked it onto Guendouzi. Guendouzi fed Bellerin, who then looked for Ozil inside, just outside the box. Ozil stepped over the ball, letting it run and continuing his run into the box. It ran through to Alexandre Lacazette, who played it onto Ozil with his first touch. Ozil was through on goal, and showed the composure to calmly flick it over Kasper Schmeichel and into the path of Aubameyang, for another simple finish. The Gunners scored a wonderful team goal against Fulham before the international break: this one was even better.
It was absolutely amazing stuff from the Gunners. They should have had more, as Lacazette missed two chances that you would expect him to score. It wasn’t to be, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Arsenal have continued their brilliant run and are in touching distance of the leaders.
Starting slowly has become a bit of an issue for them, though. They do have the quality to turn it around, as we have seen, but they’ve been much better in second halves than first halves. They need to start better because they could be caught out if they don’t. Leicester could have had two inside the first 30 minutes last night, and if they did, Arsenal may have struggled to get back into it. How Emery sorts that out is anybody’s guess, but something has to be done.
Arsenal have a few more games coming that they’ll expect to win, but then it gets tougher. Liverpool, Wolves, Bournemouth, Tottenham and Manchester United all await after their next three fixtures. They Gunners have been impressive, but that run will be a real test.
It’s time for a quick look at tonight’s Champions League games now. We’ll start with Manchester United vs Juventus.
Man Utd vs Juventus
This is a huge game at Old Trafford. It’s going to be a very difficult game against Juventus. The game is definitely not a must-win, as United are second in their group and three points ahead of Valencia, but a draw would be handy. It’s going to be a difficult game as they come up against some of the best players in the world. There’s no Mario Mandzukic tonight, but Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to return to the Theater of Dreams and make an impression. Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa are also danger-men, and there are plenty more quality players in that team too.
But we saw what Manchester United can do in their 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Sunday. They were 1-0 down, and then took the game to the Blues. They’re a very good side when they’re playing attacking football and going for it. United are not a very good side when they’re sitting deep and defending. Playing attacking football is the way to go: everybody can see it. But Jose Mourinho won’t do it consistently for one reason or another. It almost seems like it’s stubbornness at this stage!
United can win tonight’s game if they take the game to Juventus. They likely won’t, and will try to keep it tight. But it’s possible that they’ll be a bit more open after their good display against Chelsea, so let’s hope they are. It could be a really good game if they do. I’ll be watching this one, and I’m looking forward to it.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Man City
Manchester City have a tricky game on their hands, as they’re over in the Ukraine to play Shakhtar Donetsk. It’s a game they could really do with winning too, as they have just three points from their first two games after losing to Lyon. City were beaten by tonight’s opposition in last season’s Champions League; losing 2-1. It was a rotated team though, as they were already through. They should have more than enough quality to beat Shakhtar tonight, even if it is a difficult trip. Shakhtar’s quality of players shouldn’t be any match for City’s, and Pep Guardiola will be confident that his side can come out on top.
Both of those games will kick off at 8pm. I’m going to be watching Man United vs Juventus, and you can follow it with me on Twitter. The team news for both games will be up on Twitter too. Let’s hope they’re enjoyable.
That’s that from me for this morning. I’ll be back tomorrow with a look back at tonight’s Champions League games and a look forward to tomorrow’s. News will be here and on Twitter throughout the day. Have a good Tuesday!
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