The difference a week and six points makes

By Joe Mardon

Two aways wins and allís right with the Arsenal world

Two battling away victories against testing opposition have been timely twinned with Chelsea suffering the same kind of injuries we deal with on a regular basis, and stalling.

Arshavin: Due a screamer

The Wolves game suggested we were prepared to roll up our sleeves and throw our bodies where it counts. It smelt of the commitment desperately lacking in our white flag display against Newcastle last week. A second home defeat to a newly promoted team is not the stuff of Champions.

What a difference a week and six points has made.

Having escaped an early header from Cahill at the back post, we slowly began to create chances, gently jabbing away at the Everton rearguard via a couple of Arshavin efforts.

The Russian is showing signs of improvement following his recent omission to the bench. He doesn't invest effort in pre-season, and so gains his fitness through playing. There are a few signs that he is starting to come to the boil, and his left foot half volley that swerved past the post was followed by a darting run across the edge of the box and the Everton defence, before shooting high.

Arshavin is due a screamer, which is no bad thing with Sp*rs and United on the horizon.

He also racked up another assist. Collecting the ball on the goal line from Nasri's parried effort, he calmly laid it to Sagna who, in very un-Arsenal fashion, declined to pass the ball in favour of a thing called 'shooting', as he spanked the ball high in the net from a tight angle. An important blow landed on the approach to half time. Toe punt.

The much maligned Denilson was brought on for Wilshere at the break, offering more protection to the back four and enabling Fabregas to venture further forward. It quickly paid dividends. Cesc had already warmed the hands of Howard, before Densilon robbed the falling Arteta on the half way line.

The Brazilian strode forward to the edge of the box, biding his time before the right pass became available. Cesc exchanged a one two with Chamakh in the tightest of space, with our captain finding the far corner with a first time effort. Two nil and cruise control.

Confidence flowed as we looked to make it three and put the game to bed. Samir Nasri, impressive of course, picked the ball up at the halfway line and ran at a backtracking Jagielka. The England centre half seemed happy to show Nasri inside, underestimating the pace the Frenchman can gather when pushing into fifth. Roasted. As he approached Howard it seemed a great goal was inevitable, but the American stayed big and blocked.

A better chance quickly fell to Chamakh, as Sagna combined with Cesc, who drove across goal into the path of the Moroccan. Somehow he missed and a richly deserved goal went begging. Chamakh's work rate was immense, and perhaps not easily evident from TV coverage. He did not stop running.

Everton brought on two more strikers, which freed up more space for Arsenal to control the game from the middle of the park. It became almost too easy, and rather than being ruthless we took our foot of the pedal, the flat home support adding to the sense that the game was done when it wasn't.

The Blues were encouraged. Fabianski was forced into two fine saves from Beckford and Saha, and the solid central pairing of Squillaci and Djourou were being tested.

The increasing pressure eventually lead to a late Everton goal, which, with thanks, was to prove only a consolation, despite a tense injury time.

Although a clean sheet being blemished by Cahill, our centre halves were excellent throughout, winning countless long balls.

Squillaci has had a quietly quality start to his Arsenal career, becoming important without being noticed. Djourou is clearly benefiting from a run of games following endless injuries. Some have their doubts over the Swiss, but if he can stay fit and continue in this vein, he'll maintain his place alongside Squillaci as first choice, until a hopeful time where Vermaelen can return and replenish a base of four strong central defenders with the suspended Koscielny.

Anyone missing Silvestre? Gallas? Sol?

The world of Gooner is a far happier place than this time last week.

The league table suggests we could be involved in a title race, but just as the tide has quickly turned in our favour this week, we must make sure it doesn't swing back the other way. Especially not next week.

The North London derby now has the added incentive of top spot, however briefly that might be, with a wobbling Chelsea visiting Birmingham later that day.

These Novembers might not be so bad after all.

** Find more of my Arsenal ramblings at Twitter @TheArsenal_

15th November 2010 09:00:00


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