There’s a very good chance that the best player on the pitch for Arsenal was Aaron Ramsey in a nearly flawless display in the middle of the field as their deep-lying playmaker, but Lukas Podolski grabbed most of the headlines with a somewhat out-of-nowhere brace, removing any doubt of him making a sudden exit from the club.
One week after the terrible start to the season, and Arsenal look like a formidable (beating Fulham 3-1 on the road) team once again. They might not be title candidates with this squad, but their starting XI is good enough to do plenty against most of the teams in the Premier League, and there’s plenty of quality on it even with Jack Wilshere sitting on the bench.
Three official matches into the season, and if Wenger had to make a choice between Wilshere and Ramsey at this point, he’d have to go with the Welshman, who has looked better than Wilshere at every turn when the two play in a similar position, even if Wilshere is the more hyped up player. Teams tend to pay more attention to the young Englishman, and he doesn’t handle physical play and early problems all that well.
The return of Santi Cazorla to the lineup compared to the team that lost at home against Aston Villa was another welcomed change, as the combined pressure by him, Rosicky (not all that great, but it’s the best Arsenal have at the moment for an attacking midfielder) and Ramsey forced Fulham to push the ball to the left flank and not do much from there, with Dimitar Berbatov finishing with the least amount of touches on the ball out of all the players who started the match. Fulham are a tough team, but they can’t win when Berbatov is out of it for almost 90 minutes.
Podolski was the real breath of fresh air, with Olivier Giroud adding a few more moments of frustration (Although he did score early on) to himself and Arsenal fans in the box. Podolski has been the subject of some recent transfer rumors, but with his forward line so thin at the moment, there’s no way Wenger can give up on the German, who still has plenty of quality and scoring ability in his game. He just needs the right formation, and probably the right mood, in order to show it.
This lineup, without injuries, isn’t too far from what Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have to offer. It’s still hard to say what Tottenham will look like in 10 days as there are a countless number of names attached to their spending account. But Arsenal need more depth, as Giroud and Podolski, despite the promising last few days, aren’t trusted as of now to be consistent goalscorers. Theo Walcott might be, but he won’t be given the chance unless some injury plague rips through the lineup.
Arsene Wenger could have done better in pretty much every aspect over the last few years, but he doesn’t have such a bad team at his disposal, or at least one that’s good enough to pick itself up after a disappointing start. But to count on Podolski and Giroud to be the ones that will put you in the top 4 is quite risky, even if there are days when it seems like everything they do works out.