When it got to the hour mark in the Stade Velodrome against Marseille on Tuesday night, there was a similar situation to Arsenal’s win at Sunderland on Saturday. The home side were properly in the ascendency for the first time in the game and Arsenal were rocking. Per Mertesacker made one of his first errors of the season, and but for a good covering clearance from Kieran Gibbs, he’d have sliced the French side into the league. The Gunners were struggling to get a measure of control on the match.
When the same situation occurred on Saturday, Arsenal were able to put a spell of possession together and a thunderous volley from Aaron Ramsey calmed everyone down. On Wednesday night, Arsenal were able to do the same thing, but this time it was Theo Walcott on the end of the move.
It was great to see Theo Walcott score his first goal of the season, especially after he missed some chances against Sunderland. It was some poor defending that led to the chance, but Walcott still had to stay calm and he lashed it in confidently to ease the fears that had been growing.
The match had livened up by that point after a first half where both Marseille and Arsenal were playing cautiously. There had been a few half chances, but the hosts were doing well to nullify the threats of Ozil and Walcott. Olivier Giroud was working hard but couldn’t get the service to add to his goal scoring run.
The tight and tense nature of the match made Arsenal’s response in the second half all the more satisfying. The win was Arsenal’s 10th away win in all competitions, many of which have been scrappy games that the Gunners really had to drag themselves through and at times haven’t played very well.
It was almost fitting then that the win was sealed by Aaron Ramsey. He’s the only man to have played in all ten of the away wins. Ramsey has been able to use the games to grow in the team and become an integral part of the side. At the end of last season, he was getting deserved praise for the hard work he was doing alongside Mikel Arteta. This season, he has been able to expand his game and push forward more often. After his two excellent goals at Sunderland, he continued his impressive knack of finding space around the edge of the box to get Arsenal’s second goal in the last ten minutes.
He is a player who is playing the best football of his career, and after everything he’s been through and the massive dips in form he’s suffered, it is glorious to see. For someone that was written off by so many, Ramsey is a great example of how working hard can lead to success. With the squad being stretched, being able to rely on Ramsey has been invaluable for the Gunners at the start of the season.
Even though he conceded a harsh penalty, along with Kieran Gibbs, Ramsey was again the stand-out performer.
The 2-1 win sets up the Champions League group well for Arsenal. It will still be tough with Napoli and Dortmund to come, but Arsenal have got a nose ahead with a win away from home. Napoli’s win against Dortmund means that, if Arsenal get a positive result at home in the next game against the Italians, they’ll face the German side with a lead in the group.
It wasn’t the most convincing Arsenal performance, but there are now enough players in the squad that are ready to take responsibility and make the difference in tight matches. Ramsey is definitely now one of them, and his performance gave the Gunners the ideal start in the group of death.