Oh what a strange season this is turning out to be. Haven't won in three league matches against beatable opposition, also having three key players crossed off the squad list, two for the very long term and yet we find ourselves two points off the top of the table, not only that but after a weekend in which none of our realistic challengers managed to pick up three points of their own.
Before kick off I expected a game where Sunderland provided no threat whatsoever while we struggle to carve out any chances with the new reconstructed midfield, it is safe to say I was wrong on both counts.
Sunderland were far more adventurous than I imagined they would be. The young Watmore has the running style of someone plucked from the 1930s, can just imagine the big baggy shorts chasing after a rather heavy leather ball. Anyway he played the killer pass for Borini in the early exchanges. Borini really should have done better galloping through on goal in the right channel only to be thwarted by the large frame of Petr Cech in the Arsenal goal.
I have to admit I was a little blinded in the past when it came to a goalkeeper and their worth. I mean they all stand in the same sized goal and all are capable of diving left and right to stop a shot right? Wrong. Petr Cech was once again fantastic in a game we could have easily dropped points in. There was the early Borini chance to the 2nd half far post effort which he smothered.
While there are many complaints about a lack of signings from Arsenal this season, let us not forget that the one player we did buy is making a huge contribution to our season so far.
So the other interesting side show was the return of action hero Aaron Ramsey back in his favourite central position and he did not disappoint.
I thought Rambo had an extra spring in his step, an extra burst to escape opposition challenges and he was heavily involved in everything we did going forward. We are still waiting and hoping that his shooting radar sorts itself out as he continues to miss some very good chances. What is quite remarkable though is the amount of chances he ghosts into. This has been the case pretty much since he burst onto the scene as a youngster.
While I think it is clear that we are going to miss the quality of Santi Cazorla, it will be great to see the Ramsey/Özil partnership return. Both players have linked up very well together when Ramsey played centrally and we saw glimpses of that again on Saturday.
Özil has taken his game up this season and once again he made our opening goal with another well timed pass to Campbell to run in behind and slot through the keepers legs.
Runs in behind has been something I have been critical of when it comes to Joel Campbell in the past, he has always seemed a player who naturally tends to run towards the ball rather than away from it into scoring positions so I was very pleased to see that. As I was against West Brom when he really should have done much better. Theo Walcott is the traditional off the ball runner but we really need to stock up on those folk if we want to continue to use Mesut's excellent golf like passing range.
Giroud had slashed the ball into his own net before half time and I think Tim Stillman was correct in the new post match podcast about players not trusting their weaker foot. A simple right footed clearance would have more than likely prevented the equaliser.
But Giroud was to have the last laugh with a great diving header that has almost gone under the radar a little. Ramsey adjusted his body on the left and fizzed in a low ball probably intending for Giroud's feet but the Frenchman stooped low and pulled out a great header into the corner of the net to put us back ahead.
It's safe to say that Sunderland had their chances to get back into the game and had the game have taken place at the stadium of light then we may well have been feeling rather different on Monday.
Theo Walcott came on to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is struggling a bit for form at the moment. Two things struck me though about Walcott's arrival. Firstly that he looked very sharp in the limited time he had on the pitch, this is fantastic news given the Alexis injury. Secondly he played with Giroud rather than instead of him. I cannot think of the last time that this has happened. We need goals in Greece so perhaps this was Arsène's trial run.
Giroud was replaced eventually for Chambers who took up the unfamiliar position of creative, step overy right winger. It was Chambers who was involved in the 3rd goal, having his shot deflected into the path of Ramsey to force the ball in from close range.
The performance was not great even if we did witness some good individual performances from the likes of Ramsey and Özil. The key was to get back to winning ways and get the team re-gelling as quickly as possible.
Hopefully we will have done that. Now for Greece.