Even with so many injuries, Arsene Wenger had enough quality in his attack and midfield to start Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla for Arsenal, while Nicklas Bendtner showed once again that he might not be the best in the world, but there’s certainly uses for him when a team is missing their starting striker.
It was a long and rough afternoon at the Emirates as Cardiff almost escaped London with an undeserved point. However, their owner doesn’t deserve anything for the mess he’s making with the club that seemed to be in pretty good hands under the previous manager.
With so many missing players, Arsenal knew this game wasn’t going to be an easy one, with free flowing football. However, the addition of winning ugly that has suddenly become quite a recognizable part of their MO this season means that it’s not enough this season to take Arsenal out of their game, and playing physical with them isn’t a perfect recipe to guarantee a win.
Theo Walcott needed some tune ups before finding himself back in the lineup, in the role of being a right winger but not really. Since he’s gotten his starting place back, Walcott has scored five goals, playing very well in the three-game winning streak. Few players move through the channels as well as he does, and if he was a little more accurate than maybe Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero could begin getting a little bit worried.
Nicklas Bendtner is a more interesting case, because no one expects greatness from him. The Danish striker came on for Lukas Podolski who simply isn’t going to give Wenger anything as a striker and provided that necessary touch and almost took himself out of commissions seconds afterwards. He’ll never be a leading Premier League striker like some projected for him when he first arrived in North London, but you can do a lot worse than him as your backup striker. Now that he’s shedding off all the rust, these kind of goals won’t be such a shocker anymore.
Arsenal bounced back well from their disappointing results against Napoli, Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea. Yes, this team can struggle against certain gameplans and despite all of the quality Wenger has in his midfield things look a bit too labored when Mesut Ozil (who has been off his game for quite some time and maybe some rest will do him good) is off his game. However, Arsenal of past years wouldn’t have the mental fortitude and the resiliency not to mess up when things go badly early on.
Championship? Too soon to tell, but Arsenal look like they will be there till the very end. Getting Walcott and Podolski back couldn’t have come sooner, as Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey seemed to be falling apart under the pressure of not getting any rest since the start of the season. Getting some pieces familiar with each other is the next step, so home matches against relegation bound teams won’t need 87th minute goals in order to decide them.