Barring a defeat at Southampton, Arsenal were in fine form throughout the month of January. In 5 games we won four times, progressed to the FA Cup 5th round and even won an away game at one of our top four rivals. Throughout the month the team looks as though it’s finally jelled together, and with injured players returning hopefully the Gunners form can continue.
Southampton 2-0 Arsenal – 1st January Southampton scorers (Mane and Tadic)
The Gunners started the New Year in disappointing fashion, going down 2-0 at the St.Mary’s Stadium.
Having shown good form over the Christmas period Arsenal came into the game with a strong belief that a win was on the cards. Southampton though started strongest, Grazianno Pelle going close on a couple of occasions. The Arsenal midfield had a new look to it, with Francis Coquelin and Calum Chambers anchoring in front of the defence and with half an hour gone Arsenal slowly started to impose themselves on the game. Santi Cazorla went close with Arsenal’s best chance of the first half, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain skewed a shot wide from a promising angle. It looked like it was only a matter of time before Arsenal would go ahead, but once again the Arsenal back line shot themselves in the foot. With Wojciech Szczesny stranded Mane’ chipped from a tight angle to put the Saints ahead. Wenger’s men upped the tempo after the break, Sanchez came very close, but again defensive frailties cost Arsenal and after a mix-up Tadic poked home to all but confirm Southampton victory. Arsenal kept on probing but ultimately went back to London empty-handed.
Man of the Match: Santi Cazorla – Looked as though if Arsenal would score it’d come through him. The start of a great spell of form from the Spaniard.
Arsenal 2-0 Hull City – 4th January
Arsenal scorers- (Mertesacker, Alexis)
Arsenal started their FA Cup campaign the same way they ended it in 2014, beating Hull City. It was a comfortable and straightforward win for the Gunners and unlike at Wembley some months before, Arsenal this time opened the scoring. In his 150th appearance for the club Per Mertesacker nodded home from a corner to set Arsenal on their way. Theo Walcott, making his first start in exactly year came close, before Campbell and Alexis were both denied by Harper in the Hull goal. Victory was sealed in the 82nd minute as Alexis capped a fine performance, curling into the far corner to send Arsenal into round four.
Man of the Match: Alexis Sanchez- Played in the striker role. Set up Mertesacker before taking his goal very nicely.
Arsenal 3-0 Stoke- 11th January
Arsenal scorers- (Koscielny, Alexis 2)
Arsenal were in fine form as they blew away Stoke at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners started magnificently, going close through Sanchez and Rosicky very early on. After an electric start they soon had the ball in the back of the net, Koscielny heading home after good work by Sanchez. Arsenal continued their brilliant attacking display throughout the first half, as Stoke struggled to get to grips with the Gunners brilliant pass and move approach. A neat one-two between Sanchez and Rosicky capped a wonderful first-half display from Arsenal, as the little Chilean went on to score the most delightful of finishes past Asmir Begovic.
Wenger’s men continued to pour forward after the break and with the introduction of Ozil and Walcott off the bench the side looked an even more frightening prospect. Sanchez put the game to bed with an 18th of the season from a deflected free-kick, and in truth this was by far and way one of Arsenal’s most routine wins of the campaign.
Man of the Match: Santi Cazorla- Majestic display from the Spaniard. Was at the heart of every attack. Simply a joy to watch.
Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal
Arsenal scorers (Cazorla Pen, Giroud)
Having showcased a wonderful fluid and attacking run of form, Arsenal, to everyone’s surprise, turned up in Manchester and played in a rugged, disciplined and all round refreshing manner. Arsenal took a deserved lead though Santi Cazorla before Olivier Giroud confirmed victory with a second half header.
For so long the Gunners have been criticised for not having the required ingredients to win a big away game, but Arsenal were splendid in their defensive display, withstood a lot of pressure and took their chances when they needed to be taken.
All in all Arsenal’s display was outstanding. Hopefully this kind of tactic can be put into practice in further away games, and with the pace in the side it looks to be a very effective way of playing. As well of this, the confidence boost from such a victory should really push the team on for the remainder of the season.
Man of the Match: Santi Cazorla- Stunning from the Spaniard. Scored one, assisted the other and worked his socks off for the team.
Brighton 2-3 Arsenal– 25th January
Brighton scorers (O’Grady, Baldock) Arsenal scorers (Walcott, Ozil and Rosicky)
After a weekend of shocks Arsenal confirmed themselves as one of the favourites to win the famous old trophy, knocking Brighton out 3-2 and progressing to round 5.
Arsenal underlined their superiority, opening the scoring after only two minutes via Theo Walcott. Arsenal’s domination was clear and so after they were 2-0 up, Mesut Ozil cooly slotting home.
One-way traffic throughout, but Arsenal were pegged back in the second half, Chris O’Grady firing home to give the Seagulls some hope of a famous comeback. These dreams were soon dead again though, the brilliant Tomas Rosciky playing a ‘no-look’ pass before volleying in after a return from Giroud. It was a fine goal all but confirming Arsenal victory.
With 15 minutes left Sam Baldock finished nicely to give the Gunners the jitters, but thankfully we held on and will now face Middlesbrough in round 5.
Man of the Match: Tomas Rosicky- Really rolled back the years, clearly enjoyed himself whilst also providing a lovely assist before scoring the goal of the game.