It took only 11 minutes for Mesut Ozil to show Olivier Giroud what he can do for him as his new dealer on an Arsenal team that both enjoyed an even greater midfield quality than usual and some sketchy refereeing at some point, although the whistle was actually a double edges sword on the day.
The bottom line was Arsenal winning their third consecutive Premier League match, putting them on top of the table thanks to a 3-1 win in Sunderland. Olivier Giroud wasn’t dangerous past the first half, but he did get his fourth goal in four matches, courtesy of a Mesut Ozil assist which was the best the German could provide on his Arsenal debut.
And still, assists is what’s expected from Ozil, who specialized in setting up talented forwards during his years with Real Madrid. At Arsenal the options are slightly more limited, but having Giroud and Theo Walcott in front of him should provide him with plenty of moments to show his vision and passing skills.
However, the real hero of Arsenal’s recent rise to consistency is Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh midfielder was in a very different position last season, possibly because of how he was positioned by Wenger on the pitch. This year he’s right where he should be, in a much more central position, and it’s suddenly paying off with goals that just won’t stop coming, scoring the brace giving Arsenal the victory.
Not everything is optimistic. Giroud picked up a knee injury that might keep him out of the Champions League match or even longer. Arsenal have only one real striker on the squad, which means any injury the red hot Frenchman picks up could result in a very complicated predicament for Arsenal.
However, it might also cue the shift for Theo Walcott from right winger to striker. Walcott has no problem getting chances coming in from the right, moving into the channels, but he has yet to find the net, and his lack of accuracy in front of goal in the first half is what prevented Arsenal from cruising to victory very early on in the first place.
The referee? Martin Atkinson continued the bad day referees were having in the league, with two terrible decisions. The first was giving Sunderland a penalty kick. Laurent Koscileny does have these moments of terrible decision making and reckless slides into tackles, but this one didn’t touch a soul. It only made it very easy for Adam Johnson to dive and earn a penalty kick.
The second moment came shortly after Ramsey gave Arsenal the lead. Jozy Altidore easily shook off Bacary Sagna and scored an equalizer, but Atkinson called for a foul at the very beginning of the play, resulting in Di Canio fuming and getting sent off.
Arsenal are still troubled by injuries, making depth at certain positions a real problem. Mesut Ozil will need some time before he truly feels like he’s the one in charge of Arsenal’s offense, but it shouldn’t be long As long as Olivier Giroud remains injury free, this new link up, supported by the incredible form of Aaron Ramsey from behind, makes Arsenal as good as anyone right now in the Premier League.