The Gunners pulled off a terrific comeback after falling behind to a Diame finish against West Ham today, with Olivier Giroud notching his first Premier League goal, Theo Walcott produced a superb finish and Santi Cazorla sealed the deal with a fine strike of his own.
Arsene Wenger was thrilled with his teams mentality after going a goal behind to a physical Hammers side and he believes his side has a shot at the title if they can develop consistency.
The Frenchman was also bombarded with questions regarding Theo Walcott who came off the bench and essentially changed the match to put the Gunners into the lead and teed up Cazrola. He expressed his faith in the Englishman and believes he is progressing slowly towards a centre forward role.
Despite the victory though there is bad news for Keiran Gibbs who suffered a thigh injury and may miss the upcoming World Cup qualifiers for England
Wenger said after the match:
[on Theo’s contribution]
Theo has an outstanding attitude and I don’t rule anybody out. If I did then I would not bring him on in a crucial moment in the game. I believe in him. Gervinho looked a bit tired and Theo made the difference. He scored the second goal and that is the most important one.
[on Theo Walcott as a centre forward]
He slowly gets there. You’re confident now when he gets in front of goal that he will score. Of course he scored an important one today at a moment where the game was a bit 50-50.
[on the performance] We weakened a bit physically in the second half but overall it was a very important test for us today. We expected a difficult game. We were not disappointed – a game with a lot of pace, where both teams went for it in different styles. It was a good test mentally as well, because we went 1-0 down with their first shot on goal. We came back and won this game. You could say that we had a good performance today overall.
[on Olivier Giroud’s goal] In similar situations he nearly scored like that against Olympiacos on Wednesday night. He was good today. He had the physical presence and scored the goal. That will help him a lot I think to adapt very quickly.
[on Santi Cazorla] I think he was overall a delight to watch, from the first to the last minute today. He was very influential in our team and it’s fantastic to watch him play.
[on coping with Andy Carroll] You never can completely control Carroll for 90 minutes. You have to fight for him and be good on the second ball. The problem with West Ham is not only Carroll, but is Nolan on the second ball in the box. We could have been punished once or twice but overall we gave it all to deal well with him. He [Carroll] was really up for it I must say. He did fight from the first to the last minute. We did quite well.
[on good momentum going into international break] It was important for us to respond well and after our defeat against Chelsea, we won against Olympiacos on Wednesday night. We had a difficult game three days later and we knew today a draw was not good enough for us. We went for it. I think we could have lost it as well because Nolan had a very good chance, but we gave absolutely everything to win the game.
[on Kieran Gibbs] He has a thigh problem. He might be out for England. I believe Cole and Baines are ahead of him for Hodgson but it would have been a good opportunity for him to show he could have got in front of them.
[on the importance of this win] We started with a lot of questions raised about the team. We have now played seven games and the belief in the squad is that we have a chance. Of course we now need to do it week after week. The spirit and quality are there it is about how consistent we are now.
It was a refreshing performance again from Arsenal. They may have not hit the high notes but sometimes it is about grinding out a victory. Podolski again was outstanding and consistent – his ball for Giroud was exceptional.
Cazorla thrilled as always and Giroud battled well and was unlucky not to score more. Theo Walcott’s contribution will certainly help to earn him more playing time once the internationals return from duty in under two weeks time.
As to whether he should be played as a centre forward? Perhaps he should get a run in the Capital One match against Reading later this month, but for now Giroud should cement a spot as he holds the ball up well for the midfield and is an aerial threat.
Despite the defensive lapse early on in the match the backline worked hard against a constant Andy Carroll threat and the partnership of Vermaelen and Mertesacker was once again solid. Hopefully Gibbs’ injury is nothing too serious and he will be fit to return in a couple of weeks.
Thoughts on the match? Feel free to comment below or in allArsenal’s Matchday thread.