Football

Arsenal show new found strength

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Wenger's added steel this season (©GettyImages)
Wenger's added steel this season (©GettyImages).

Champions and great teams find ways to get results, even if below par they win ugly.

Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United teams were masters of this down the years, so were Chelsea during Jose Mourinho's first stint in charge.

Since the 2005 FA Cup final this talent seemed to have deserted Arsenal, all to often weaker ending a fine run of form by dropping points to weaker teams.

The Gunners' reaction to a 6-3 defeat by Manchester City two weeks ago proves this is no longer the case.

Playing at home against Chelsea coming off a potentially morale-sapping defeat at the Eithad, Arsenal did something they have done all to rarely in recent years.

In a tight tactical game against a major rival they earned a draw, making sure they were not caught chasing all three points late on against a genuine title rival.

In previous years commitment to footballing aesthetics would have caused Arsenal to open themselves up and go on the attack. Chelsea set up to exploit counter-attacking opportunities and would inevitably have broken away and scored.

This time a more tightly set-up Arsenal restricted Chelsea to one Frank Lampard volley off the underside of the bar. Although not much of force going forward Wenger's side secured a potentially vital point by accepting that a draw was a good result.

Almost more telling than the result against Chelsea was Wenger's refusal to use any subs. Whilst many have criticised this the win against West Ham on Boxing Day shows why he did this.

With Santi Carzola, Mathieu Flamini, Lukas Podolski and Nicklas Bendtner on the bench against Chelsea, Arsenal could have shaken things up in search of the win.

Instead Wenger trusted the eleven on the pitch to get at least a point and provided Carzola in particular with a vital rest.

The Premier League schedule is frantic at this time of the year. An extra few days without playing can allow a player to dominate with fresher legs when they come back into the side.

Carzola did this against West Ham. He pulled the strings in midfield and was crucial as Arsenal overcame a one goal deficit to win 3-1.

This result stands in even starker contrast to previous years where a trip to a struggling side was a chance for Arsenal to drop points, doubly so if the opposition could get their noses in front.

Typically, Arsenal would enjoy plenty of possession but fail to create chances. This Arsenal side however showed they were different.

If Olivier Giroud had been sharper and playing off the shoulder of the defender the game would have been over by half time.

As it was the Gunners had to wait for Theo Walcott's weak shot to dribble under Adrian's hands for the equaliser. The second came after James Tomkins attempted clearance directed the ball right onto Walcott's head.

To a certain extent then Arsenal were lucky but made their own good fortune with strong play.

Matches like those against Chelsea and West Ham used to be an invitation for Arsenal to drop points.

This season however, Arsenal have come through a tough run of games picking up enough points to stay top of a wide-open title race.

A newly resilient Arsenal are in the title race for the long haul.

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Topics:
Premier League
Arsenal
Football
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