Walcott and Alexis ensure Arsenal avoid a nightmare November

ShareClose Comments
The Gunners remained unbeaten throughout a month during which they usually fall apart, with their win over Bournemouth keeping their title hopes on track


COMMENT

This wasn’t Arsenal at their best. Nineteen games unbeaten in all competition looks fantastic on paper, but the performances in November have been far from praiseworthy. But after rallying to beat Bournemouth on Sunday, Arsene Wenger can look back on a month during which his side have consolidated their title bid without putting in the same thrilling displays that characterised their opening weeks of the campaign.

Though they started brightly against the Cherries, Callum Wilson's equaliser from the penalty spot after being fouled by Nacho Monreal threatened to leave the Gunners even further behind leaders Chelsea in the title race. In previous seasons November is where the north London outfit have come unstuck, and in years gone by they may have struggled to lift themselves and go onto take all three points.

REPORT: Alexis shines to see off Bournemouth

But this Arsenal is different from those of the last decade. Against both Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain they were second best but managed to escape with valuable draws, and though failing to record victories may yet come back to bite them in both the Premier League and Champions League as the season wears on, for now they can look back with positivity on a period during which they previously would have slipped to defeats.

The first half against Bournemouth was certainly an improvement on the performances against United and PSG, but going in level was certainly a set-back. Step up Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez, who yet again came up trumps in front of goal to ensure the gap to Chelsea remains at just three points.

First Walcott found himself in space to nod in Monreal's bouncing cross at the back post before Alexis finished off a sweeping passing move in stoppage time to add his somewhat fortunate opener after Steven Cook mishit a back pass in the early stages. Eddie Howe's side certainly offered much more of a test than many expected they might do without the ineligible Jack Wilshere, but Arsenal were able to pass their latest test with far more aplomb than they have shown since returning from the last international break.

It was during that fortnight off from domestic action that most Arsenal supporters felt their season might be starting to fall apart with Alexis picking up a hamstring injury while away with Chile. But having recovered in double-quick time, the former Barcelona forward continues to defy even the highest of expectations.

Again preferred to Olivier Giroud in a free role up front, Alexis was his usual busy self in and around the final third, with his two goals a just reward. His ability to stay fit despite not having a pre-season break in three years is remarkable, and him being available and at the top of his game has played a huge part in his side going unbeaten in the month of November for the first time since 2011.

Wenger reserved special praise for his matchwinner, claiming: "Even when he looks dead, he's still alive and has the resources to do something special!" It's difficult to argue with that ascertion, and it is such ability which means Arsenal are very much still one of four sides who can realistically harbour title hopes.

Walcott, meanwhile, celebrated the birth of baby boy, Arlo, on Friday by netting his sixth goal of the campaign already, and with him finally finding some consistency, Mesut Ozil at his brilliant best and Alexis in inspired form there is a lot to like about this Arsenal side. Their November form may not have been perfect, but it was far from terminal either.

Between now and February they only have just one match against a side currently in the top six. Their traditional sticky patch is out of the way - the Premier League can now fear what this Arsenal team still have to offer.

Next article:
Barcelona condemn Spanish crackdown on Catalonia independence vote
Next article:
Coach who called Neymar a monster backs him in penalty row: He's just trying to be like Messi!
Next article:
Just what is Neymar wearing? €222m PSG star attends Tommy Hilfiger event with Lewis Hamilton
Next article:
The Best FIFA Football Awards 2017: Nominees, voting & everything you need to know
Next article:
Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic cannot reveal why Thamsanqa Gabuza was dropped
Close