Arsenal picked up 3 points away from home on Saturday evening in what could’ve been a tricky away fixture for the title-chasing Gunners.
But in the end, it was a relatively straightforward win with the Gunners dominating in the first half but only managing to go into the break with a 1-goal lead. That goal came from Francis Coquelin making a key interception and that freed Alexis Sanchez who unselfishly gave the ball to Mesut Ozil, allowing the German to tap into an empty net.
The second half saw West Ham come into the game more than Arsenal fan will have liked, but they were still restricted to very few openings as the Gunners defence stood strong. It was then time for Alexis Sanchez to once again show his quality. Starting as the lone striker, the Chilean looked so confident and was quality with pretty much everything he did. He doubled Arsenal’s lead with a brilliant individual run, and most impressive was the finish. Striking from a tight angle, he found the bottom corner with aplomb, and it helped highlight the difference in quality between Alexis and most of the other players on the pitch.
It wasn’t long before the little Chilean made all the difference again, striking from the edge of the box and finding the bottom left corner with an unstoppable, accurate finish. There was a scare for Arsenal when Carroll headed in to make it 3-1, but Oxlade-Chamberlain responded immediately and restored the 3-goal lead for the Gunners. Then, a few minutes before full-time, Alexis completed an incredible performance, chipping the goalkeeper to get his hat-trick and make the score 5-1.
Crucially Alexis scored 3 goals and made 1 assist – but what was reassuring about Arsenal’s performance is that they always looked in control. Too many times in the past, Arsenal have crumbled in this kind of game, even when they take the lead. They now look so much more in control and are playing with a new found confidence. The additions of Mustafi and Xhaka to the spine of the team cannot be underestimated and the decision to move Alexis to play through the middle has been a revelation.
I loved the fact that Mustafi was barking orders throughout the game, keeping the defence in line and the midfielders in front of him in check.
With the Chilean’s contract having less than two years to run, many Arsenal fans have called for him to extend his contract, and for Arsenal to give the player the money he wants.
In my opinion, Alexis is up there with the best in the Premier League and tonight showed that. Arsenal really need to keep hold of him, he’s different class. The sooner we wrap up his contract the better, it’s time to loosen the purse strings.
Alexis was not the only star on the day, though – there were encouraging performances from the likes of Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield as it appeared Arsene Wenger finally found his midfield rhythm.
With this kind of performance and with the new signings settling in so well, Arsenal must truly be considered title challengers now.
They have quality players in every position and every title winning team has a main man, Arsenal’s is without a doubt Alexis and he proved that with a brilliant hat-trick.
The Gunners have passed several tests already this season that show they are a changed team. They dismantled Chelsea, and apart from the opening day of the season, where only half the team was there, they are undefeated in the league. You can rightly say that West Ham were very poor, but it is unusual and refreshing for Arsenal to still have not lost an away game when you consider the strength of all the teams in the Premier League.