Connect in the back of the net

Arsenal extended their winning run with a 3-0 home win against eighth-placed potential title contenders in Chelsea on Saturday night.

With only six games played in the Premier League, they have already established themselves as credible title contenders with the London derby win.

Here are the five major talking points from that entertaining fixture.

 

Is Theo Walcott back to his best?

Theo Walcott had been getting a lot of stick last season for his perceived lack of effort, and atrocious finishing.

However, despite an average pre-season with the Gunners, he has turned a leaf this season, making wholesale changes to his playing style and attitude.

Against the Blues, he put in a shift both whilst defending and in the attacking half. Whilst tracking back, he looked a nuisance for Eden Hazard and formed an excellent partnership with Hector Bellerin as either speedster complemented each other perfectly.

In addition, his eagerness to stick out a leg on Saturday night – he won three of the four attempted tackles – was refreshing, after receiving vitriolic abuses for the whole of the last season for being timid both on and off the ball.

 

Has Olivier Giroud been demoted to the second string?

Arsene Wenger has often been lambasted for things he does right, with the latest installment being playing Alexis Sanchez as the striker at the expense of Olivier Giroud.

With the Londoners exhibiting a different level of cohesion in the final third with Alex Iwobi, Alexis, and Walcott showing excellent movement, the French manager can claim the last laugh.

Fans have been calling out for a system that only brings in Giroud as an impact substitute, and Wenger has devised just that system despite not signing a world-class centre-forward.

 

Should Kieran Gibbs start more games?

Kieran Gibbs mustered 21 minutes of action last weekend after impressing in the midweek game against Nottingham Forest.

He produced an impressive display that could convince a lot of top-flight managers to start him week in and week out.

However, with Nacho Monreal simply being a better player than he is, he cannot be the first-choice left-back at Emirates Stadium, at least until the Spaniard regresses.

Accordingly, he should get accustomed to playing as a defensive winger, who would keep Arsenal’s lead in the nervy final few minutes.

Perhaps, starting him in domestic cup games and easy Champions League fixtures such as the home game against Ludogorets will keep him happy at the club despite the lack of playing time.

 

Is Ko-Stafi the best centre-back partnership in England?

Since Shkodran Mustafi’s debut, Arsenal have conceded just three goals in four games.

Although Francis Coquelin’s presence in front of the defence and Laurent Koscielny’s individual form also plays a major role in Arsenal’s good defensive record, the new arrival’s partnership with the Arsenal skipper deserves a lot of credit.

The duo complements each other perfectly, with both being excellent at tackling and interceptions.

Given Mustafi’s intent to lunge into a tackle rather than backtrack, Arsenal’s defence has instantly become not the easiest to go up against.

The fact that a Chelsea side that has scored the fifth most goals in the league managed a shot on target only on 84 minutes highlights the resilience the Arsenal’s defence exhibited.

Although there were a few mix-ups because of communication issues, with the most obvious being the one that led to Bellerin’s last-ditch tackle on Pedro Rodriguez, the Ko-Stafi centre-back partnership definitely ranks amongst the best defences in England.

 

Is Wenger’s team really tactically stale?

Antonio Conte chose to play a conservative game, hoping to hit the home side on the counter; however, poor ball retention ability and appalling passing range of Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic married with Alexis’ relentless pressing high up the pitch and Walcott’s new-found determination meant that Arsenal goals were inevitable.

Wenger did well for a manager, who has been branded as tactically ignorant for the better part of the post-Invincibles era.

 

Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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