Even if Arsene Wenger does have a short squad which forces him to use full backs as attacking wingers, there’s enough quality to maintain dominance in the North London derby, with Santi Cazorla proving he’s the best player the team has, while Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud continue to improve their partnership in what should have been more than just one goal.
While Tottenham have signed every possible player this summer, Arsenal made only two free agent signings (up until now), with Yaya Sanogo not likely to make too many appearances this season, and Mathieu Flamini looking more like a coming-off-the-bench type of player, nothing more.
And yet at the moment, with Spurs not playing some of their new arrivals while missing both Lennon and Bale, there’s no doubt who is the better side. Roberto Soldado might have been the best striker on the pitch, but he didn’t have the support Giroud enjoyed. Theo Walcott is always a nightmare for Tottenham players, who keep playing him with a suicidal defensive high line. It resulted in the first goal with Walcott providing a clinical Giroud with the assist and a few more chances as Danny Rose was caught out of position time and time again.
The big advantage for Arsenal was Cazorla. The Spaniard began the match positioned on the left wing instead of Lukas Podolski, but he kept drifting to the middle, eliminating any chance Tottenham had of winning the midfield battle. It also allowed Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey to be a bit more adventurous than they would have if it would have been a 3-on-3 matchup in the middle of the pitch.
Cazorla creates chances for others better than anyone on this Arsenal team, but is also fit enough and disciplined enough not to forget about helping Kieran Gibbs against Walker and Townsend, although Gibbs did very well during the moment when he was on his own.
Olivier Giroud might be one of the bigger changes compared to the start Arsenal had last season. He arrived from Montpellier a little green behind the ears when it came to this level, but he’s like a completely different player at the start of this season. Confident of his scoring ability and his place in the lineup, almost every touch he makes on the ball means something, and it’s almost impossible to cover him with just one centre back. A poor man’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic? I’m not sure who is getting the bigger compliment there, but it looks like striker might not be such a problem for Arsenal at the moment.
Arsenal need more players, but it’s not 100% that they’re actually coming. Wenger can thread all the pretty words he wants – he and his partners have failed once again in the transfer window, leaving him a good squad but very short in certain areas, too short to be a major factor in the title race or the Champions League. Even with Cazorla, Giroud and Walcott, not bringing in another quality player to the midfield, attack or defense is dooming your team to the 4th place once again.