Tougher tests to come

Arsenal thrash Blackburn 7-1

A first win of 2012, seven goals, a striker in the form of his life, and one of the most exciting young talents in the country. Finally a day really worth cheering about.

The emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in particular, is great news for the club. In recent times Arsene Wenger seemed to have lost his touch with bringing in exceptional young talents, with the likes of Diaby, Denilson and Walcott not fulfilling their potential, and the most exciting player, Wilshere, coming up through the club’s academy. Finally we have seen a top class talent come to our club, who – not only has a great future, but can add something to the team now.

We must be cautious, though, as Wenger will now be in the situation where he has to play Chamberlain, still only 18, far more regularly, probably more regularly than he should be playing at this age. We’ve seen what that has done to Jack Wilshere already.

What his recent form will hopefully do, is remind Walcott and Gervinho that they will have to up their game, because there is now genuine competition in the wide-forward positions. Walcott has already responded by getting three assists yesterday, an improved display from him that was naturally overshadowed by the performances of Van Persie and Chamberlain.

Anyway, more reason to be cautious is that we must remind ourselves that we were only playing Blackburn yesterday, and once a few goals went in and they went down to ten men they were always going to be killed off pretty easily. Far tougher tests are just around the corner, particularly next week against Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland, currently the most in-form side in the Premier League.

We didn’t have the best record against Villa when O’Neill was in charge there, and he is just the type of manager who knows how to trouble us, with pacey wingers and crosses into the box. Wenger once described this as ‘long ball’ football, which is an insult really, as O’Neill gets his teams playing good, fast, counter-attacking football, playing at a pace that Wenger doesn’t tend to like. Our problems in the full-back positions are likely to be tested next week.

However, it makes all the difference going into these games with a feeling that you can score, which van Persie certainly has this season. The goals dried up for a while around December and January, but even against Bolton we looked like we were at least creating more chances than previously, so hopefully we can re-discover a clinical edge that we certainly showed yesterday.

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