Arsenal answered some questions last night at the KC stadium. After producing not only the best results but also the most aesthetically pleasing football for many weeks, there were signs that the Arsenal engine was starting to splutter at Burnley and then again at Wembley against Reading. A week later we were shut out by table topping Chelsea, meaning that we had only scored 3 goals in three games. The concern was that our form had already reached it's peak and could be heading south. Well worry was hopefully put to bed after a masterclass of a first half display.
Another question that needed answering was the Aaron Ramsey on the right of attack question. Many have questioned the decision to leave more natural wide options on the bench. Players such as Welbeck and Walcott would give us more speed and width in the final third and while there is an element of truth to that, you cannot underestimate the value of momentum and continuity.
Aaron Ramsey made yet another considerable contribution to a wonderful first half performance. As did Alexis Sanchez who has found a second wind of form after a mid-season dip. It was the Chilean's freekick which deflected in for our opener before Santi Cazorla spotted a Ramsey dart into a centre forward position and pinged a magnificent long pass with his 'weak' foot into Ramsey's body. Ramsey acting like an experienced centre forward turned his man and got his shot off and his effort flew in via yet another deflection. But I bet the third goal was the one that pleased Arsene the most.
Alexis won the ball back inside the Hull half, Özil picked up the ball and played it to Ramsey on the right. Ramsey spotting the diagonal run from Alexis played a superb reverse pass with his left foot, the execution was sheer perfection and Alexis had the relatively simple task of side stepping the advancing keeper and rolling the ball into an empty net.
I could watch Ramsey's pass 100 times and not get bored of it. His final ball and vision is still very underrated I feel.
The home side managed to pull a goal back after what looked like a foul on Koscielny but that setback did not change our game.
We didn't manage to get on the score sheet in the second half but I thought some of our football was some of the best I've seen this season. Mesut Özil was largely responsible for that. He was pulling the strings and produced some real moments of class such as his second half flick to Alexis Sanchez.
Hull simply had no answer to the speed of which we closed them down as well the technical level of our passing. Cazorla started our attacks from deep with his trademark twisting and turns while Mesut Özil knitted everything together further up the pitch.
Jack Wilshere came on for Aaron Ramsey who had taken a kick to his ankle in the first half, it was Wilshere's first game since his injury against Manchester United in November. His cameo was more than promising. Driving at the heart of the opposition in that trademark burst of his, Hull often could only stop him by fouling him.
I like the idea of Wilshere on the right because his limitations are not as detrimental to the team from wide. He can also switch with Özil who enjoys finding space on that right flank but Wilshere has Aaron Ramsey in his path and the Welshman is producing the goods.
We had plenty of chances to score the fourth but we just couldn't take our chances. We could and perhaps should have also had two penalties that were waved away both on Jack Wilshere. One shove in the box and another blocking a Wilshere goal bound shot.
I would say it doesn't matter at this stage but ideally we would like to make up the goal difference against Manchester City which would allow us to lose one of our remaining Premier League games if the rest are victories and still finish second. With home matches against Swansea and Sunderland to come and us continuing to play as we did last night, achieving better goal difference may be a realistic possibility.