Arsenal know how to make things difficult for themselves and it was no different against Swansea City on Saturday.
Post-international break matches tend to have a feel of fatigue about them and teams usually start on the backburner, but Arsene Wenger’s side put in an intensive opening 30 minutes which eventually saw them rewarded with a goal from Theo Walcott.
Despite the England man’s disappointing performances for his country in midweek, he showed that his change of attitude and focus on ‘the next game’ is continuing to pay off. His second goal came just seven minutes later after confusion inside the Swansea box and Walcott was once again in the right place at the right time for his club.
Walcott has now scored five goals in eight Premier League appearances this season - the same number he scored in 28 games last campaign and a clear indication of how far the 27-year-old has improved in the space of a few months.
When Granit Xhaka’s misplaced pass presented Gylfi Sigurdsson with a perfect opportunity to pull one back before half-time, there was a feeling inside Emirates Stadium that it could be one of those days where Arsenal fail to kill off a game which they should be winning comfortably.
Mesut Ozil, who looks set to sign a new contract extension in the coming weeks, gave the Gunners some breathing space when his breathtaking first-time volley from Alexis Sanchez’s pin-point cross made it 3-1 on 57 minutes.
It was another case of Arsenal’s best players linking up after incessant pressure from an attacking duo which continues to exploit spaces in opposition defences. However, just 10 minutes later, the impressive Swansea winger Modou Barrow produced a scintillating run down the right-hand side before finding substitute Borja Baston in the box and he finished with aplomb.
Baston's goal was another warning for Wenger’s men that they need to finish off their chances in matches against weaker opposition. Xhaka's sending off for a professional foul on the halfway line could certainly be deemed unfortunate and the tackle was surely at worst a yellow card.
Walcott missed another chance in the final seconds of the match and he remains 10 goals away from becoming Arsenal’s third highest goalscorer under long-serving French boss Wenger.
The 68-year-old, who celebrated his 20th year in charge of the north London giants last month, claims this is the most mature squad he has ever managed - and his players have again showed that they are serious about mounting a title challenge this season.