Everything good about Arsenal was encapsulated in their 5-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday. The Gunners boasted their star trio of Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in attack for the first time this season and supporters would certainly have approved of what they witnessed as Arsene Wenger’s men mounted a comeback from 1-0 down to thrash under fire Ronald Koeman’s side.
Sunday’s win reinforced the notion that Arsenal possess a squad capable of challenging for the title when everyone is fit. Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere were named among the substitutes once again and it’s testament to the squad depth which gives Wenger the option of bringing such big names off the bench, with the likes of Alex Iwobi and Francis Coquelin also included.
Arsenal had more shots (30) against Everton than they had managed in any Premier League away game since the start of 2011/12. While the Toffees are undoubtedly on a run of bad form. It should take nothing away from a clinical Gunners display which played a brand of free-flowing, slick football eventually culminating in excellent goals from the newly-formed ‘AOL’. The victory was also another perfect response to those who thought they were going to struggle in another away game against a top six side.
Added to that, in the first match they’ve started together, Lacazette, Ozil and Sanchez all scored while the latter two bagged an additional assist each. Ozil in particular starred in the win and dragged Everton’s midfielders around the pitch with him at times – while creating the most chances by any player in a single Premier League game this season (8). The German international, who has been subject of transfer speculation in recent days, was named Man of the Match and unsurprisingly lavished with praise by his manager.
“He was superb,” said Wenger. “Agile, quick and intelligent. He was always at the service of the team with his quality of passing. When he is at that level he is an exceptional football player.”
Ozil and Sanchez’s contracts have been talk of the town for several months with both players yet to sign an extension with the club. Chilean talisman Alexis was close to joining Manchester City on transfer deadline day and Goal understands that the 28-year-old has no interest in signing a new deal, but all the signs from Ozil and his representatives continue to suggest that his priority is to extend his stay in north London.
The aforementioned duo are the most common assist-to-scorer combo (6) for Arsenal in the Premier League since the start of last season and the summer signing of Alexandre Lacazette means that the club now have a deadly finisher in their ranks to put away the abundance of chances Ozil creates per game.
“In training we always show our quality together, so today on the pitch you saw from the start until the end we played very well in front of the goal,” Ozil told Sky Sports after the 5-2 win.
“We were a little bit unlucky in front of goal but especially in the second half we showed our quality.”
Those fans who saw the debut of AOL on Sunday should make the most of every game the trio play in this season as it may not last for much longer. Arsenal have five key fixtures going into the January transfer window which include a trip to league leaders Manchester City, a north London derby and games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Ultimately, the next two months of Premier League football could be the deciding factor in whether Ozil and Alexis stay or not. Wenger claims that the club would consider selling both players in January if there is still no agreement on an extension by then, but the 5-2 mauling at Goodison Park would have only increased the number of suitors for two of the most gifted attacking players in world football.