New-look Arsenal starting to click for Arsene Wenger
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates scoring a goal against West Ham in the Premier League. REUTERS photoArsene Wenger believes Arsenal is starting to hit its stride as his new-look side provided fresh evidence it will be in contention for the Premier League title at the end of the season.
Arsenal, who last won silverware in 2005, came from behind to record a 3-1 win at London rival West Ham on Oct. 6 and move into fifth place in the Premier League.
It was the perfect response following the setback of losing for the first time this season, against Chelsea last weekend, and Arsenal is showing signs of moving on following the traumatic pre-season sale of Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
The Gunners go into the international break on the coat-tails of the early season pacesetters after substitute Theo Walcott and newboys Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla all got on the scoresheet at Upton Park.
France forward Giroud, who arrived from Montpellier in a 12 million move in pre-season, broke his league duck with the equalizer to cancel out Mohamed Diame’s opener for West Ham.
Walcott, who has been at loggerheads with Wenger over his desire to shift from the wing to a central striker position, caught the eye with a cool 77th-minute finish before Spanish midfielder Cazorla completed the win.
“It was an important test that we came through. It was a good test for our mentality as well to come back and win this game,” Wenger said.
“It moves us up the table with the international break coming up. It’s important we responded well after our defeat against Chelsea.
“We knew a draw wouldn’t be good enough for us and we got what we wanted. I couldn’t have asked for more.” Wenger was quick to praise the goalscoring trio’s impact and said: “With Theo he is confident now in front of goal that he will score. He scored an important one when the game was 50-50.
“He has an outstanding attitude and I don’t rule anyone out. I believe in him. I do see his position (as a striker) as a his long-term position.
“Olivier nearly scored against Olympiakos in our Champions League game recently. He provides a physical presence.
“That goal will help him adapt. That’s what you want from players. Cazorla was a delight again to watch. He was very influential. It’s fantastic to watch him play.” Arsenal, who lost Keiran Gibbs to a thigh problem that is set to rule him out of the England squad, will know they rode their luck to get back to winning ways.
West Ham scored against the run of play through Diame before Giroud’s timely first league goal. But with the game still finely poised, Walcott underlined his ability to play up front with a fine strike before Cazorla enhanced his growing reputation to clinch the win.
West Ham’s first home defeat of the season was compounded by a serious looking injury to Ricardo Vaz Te.
The Portuguese striker faces several months on the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder and West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admitted it was a major setback.
He added: “We have picked up a few more injuries. It appears Vaz Te has a dislocated shoulder.
“He will be out for six to 12 weeks and will have to go hospital to slot it back into the socket. It’s a bit of a shame, but we will have to use the squad.
“We just hope we don’t pick up any injuries on the international break. But the way we are performing, especially at home, we are in with a great chance when we return against Southampton.”