Deserved victory. I thought we were magnificent today, from back to front. Cech was imperious in goal, pulling off two great reflex saves in the 2nd half to ensure we got all three points. JT was outstanding as usual, dominant in the air, in the right place in the right time, and assured under pressure. Luiz was also solid for the most part, excluding a couple occasions of momentary lapses. I'm bored of reiterating how consistently good Ash is, so I'll skip him. But he was marvelous once more. Ivanovic also did well for most of the game, I thought. He rarely got caught upfield and made very few mistakes. The pivot seems to be working so much better with Mikel and Ramires. If we can keep working on it, there is definitely scope for improvement. Mikel was excellent today, winning the ball and distributing with ease. I can't recall him misplacing a pass. Ramires showed once again that he is much more effective when deployed in the middle of the park. It was a toss up between him and Mata for MotM. He made vital tackles, countless interceptions, passed well, and used his energy and stamina to burst forward when necessary. Mikel and Ramires (especially Mikel) simply didn't let Cazorla get in the game, and they have to be given a lot of credit for doing that. Excluding the effort near the end by Santi, he was more or less non existent during the game. He didn't get involved in much of Arsenal's play and failed to orchestrate proceedings like he usually does. Well done Mikel. A lot of you may think that Oscar had a poor game, and perhaps rightly so. In the early parts of the game, he was continually brushed off the ball, dispossessed, and struggled with his passing. His touch seemed off; he miscontrolled the ball on more than one occasion and didn't make much of an impact in the attacking third. Regardless, from a tactical point of view, he was utterly superb. He pressed and harried Arteta and Diaby (later Ramsey) constantly, not allowing either of them, in particularly Arteta, any time or space on the ball to start pulling the strings and dominating the midfield. From this sense, he was great. Also, bearing in mind this was a London derby so was bound to be a feisty, physical, fast-paced game, this was a very good performance from the young Brazilian, particularly in negating the effectiveness of Arteta. We saw him do this supremely well with Pirlo the other week, and for such a young man, he has fantastic tactical discipline, intelligence, and awareness, something which we would expect of someone more experienced and much older and wiser. Anyway, on to the little magician Mata. I cannot emphasise enough how fortunate we are to have such a world class gem in Juan Mata. He may have gone under the radar somewhat in the opening few weeks, what with Hazard's electrifying start. But make no doubt about it, he is still, in my eyes anyway, our most complete creative player. As for today, he was absolutely majestic. He brought order and composure when needed, kept possession of the ball, spread the play superbly well pinging short and long passes left, right, and centre, consistently found his man, and was involved in pretty much everything we did going forward, not to mention the fact he got the assist for Torres' goal and a goal himself. And what a goal it was. It may be given as an own goal by Koscielny but that shouldn't take anything away from Mata's delivery. It was first class. It was whipped in with a lot of pace and into such a dangerous area that Koscielny simply had to deal with it. It was the faintest of touches and it looked like it was heading for the far corner anyway, which is why I feel Mata should be accredited with the goal. Sublime performance, and upon much reflection, my MotM. Moving on to Hazard then. He wasn't woeful or magnificent, but somewhere in between. There were a few glimpses of his skill and flair, but apart from that he didn't really impose himself on the game. That's to be expected though, he was never going to maintain his stunning early season form. Nevertheless, this wasn't an awful performance by him, just not a spectacular one either. And now on to the enigma that is our no.9, Fernando Torres. Today, I thought he was wonderful. He worked tirelessly to bully the two Arsenal centre-backs, Koscielny and Vermaelen, won many aerial duels, and held it up excellently. It was a fantastic instinctive finish for the goal, but he could've, and probably should've, got another shortly after but he dallied and the chance was gone. Was it or wasn't it a pen? Replays were inconclusive but it would've been quite a soft one to be fair. It looked like he totally missed the ball. Koscielny may have touched his boot but it was the minimal of touches. On the whole though, Torres was excellent. He led the line like a proper no.9, took his chance well, got much more involved in play, and his work rate was exceptional. He needs to continue to build on this and keep scoring now. Moses and Bertrand when they came on were solid too. Moses has really impressed me lately, I'd be inclined to start him more often to add a bit more width. Then again, the more times Oscar, Hazard, and Mata play together, the shorter the amount of time it'll take for them to properly gel. And that really is an irresistible thought. Many thought that we'd be defensively vulnerable based on the assumption that these three players wouldn't track back and help out the midfield/fullbacks. They were wrong, it seems. It wasn't just Torres who put in a superb shift today, all three players did more than their fair share of defensive duties today which was great to see. This was truly a great team performance.
So, overall then I thought we were excellent and definitely worthy winners today. It was a disciplined performance in which every single player performed their roles superbly. There's still room for improvement, absolutely. At times today we dropped too deep, highlighted by Gervinho's goal where he had far too much time and space to turn and shoot. And we could of course been denied all three points had Giroud scored what was basically an open goal. Regardless, our boys have been questioned a lot lately about whether they're up to the task and if we can properly compete with other top teams, and this was a real statement of intent. To be honest I love being written off as it seems as if we play much better but when we do play well, a bit of praise would be nice. I feel we should be giving the boys a lot of credit for gaining all three points in what was an extremely tough test against an in-form Arsenal team at the Emirates. Everyone was expecting a home win but the lads rose to the challenge and, for the most part, totally outclassed our opponents today. Don't get me wrong, there are still sterner tests to come but this is a great start and an indicator that we are prepared to compete with the likes of City and Utd. With every passing game, we will gradually improve and the understanding between the players (Oscar, Mata, Hazard especially) will continue to develop and ultimately flourish. Our next 5 Premier League games are as follows: Norwich (h), Spurs (a), Utd (h), Swansea (a), Liverpool (h). If we can get 11/15 points out of those games, that would be a brilliant achievement and would send out a clear message that we are ready to fight for the title. It's still definitely early days but there's no harm in having faith or being optimistic. Onwards and upwards!