Five lessons learned from Arsenal's demolition of Sunderland

Rosicky Defends

With Mesut Ozil out of the side, Giroud, Rosicky and co impressed in midfield and attack to beat League Cup finalists Sunderland 4-1

Below are five observations of the Arsenal performance:

Giroud's level isn't that of starting striker at a title challenger

Olivier Giroud has been both celebrated and maligned this season for Arsenal, and despite having 12 goals in the league after his strikes against Sunderland, there is an ongoing question that can be asked of him.

Aside from his winner over rivals Spurs in September, Giroud hasn't managed to net a goal against any other side in the top seven all year. Why is that? This isn't good enough for a player employed by himself upfront, and is often the difference between Arsenal emerging from these key contests with any points.

Giroud is a good striker. He can, as he did against Sunderland, take part in Arsenal's impressive moves as well as scoring himself. But at the moment he doesn't look good enough to lead Arsenal's line. Why else would Arsene Wenger start Yaya Sanogo against top sides Liverpool and Bayern, a youngster with minimal top level experience.

Arsenal didn't miss Ozil at all

With some saying he'd been dropped, others rested, and a few that he had a niggling injury, Mesut Ozil was scarcely missed against Sunderland.

His absence gave a chance for several others to impress in attacking positions, with Giroud, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere all having excellent games.

Wenger will now have the very real problem of whether he should include the German in Arsenal's next starting line up, a crazy question considering the former Real Madrid man's early season form.

But when you look at the stats you can see the reasoning, Ozil has assisted just twice in 10 games since the turn of the year, one of which was against Coventry, with no goals scored. Compared to the eight games before that, where he had four assists and two goals to his name. That is a clear drop in form.

This was the ideal game and result following a tough few weeks

An easy run out is what Arsenal wanted after intense and draining games against Liverpool and Bayern recently, and that's just what they got as Sunderland were blitzed early on and never really recovered.

Given time on the ball and racing to a 2-0 lead within half an hour of kick off, Arsenal could work as hard as they wanted, and you got the feeling at half time that they could score as many as they wanted. With a week off, the Gunners have plenty of time to take a breath before the next run of must-win games hurtles at them.

Rosicky's goal proved Arsenal are the best footballing side in the country

Tomas Rosicky's spectacular team goal, in which Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud all played a part in a tremendous one touch move, was proof that there are no better footballing teams in the Premier League. It's not the only goal like that scored this season either, with Jack Wilshere's Norwich goal equally as impressive. One thing is clear from the last few months of Arsenal performances, they can really hurt sides that stand off and afford them too much time on the ball.

Why didn't Arsenal employ this style of play against Bayern?

Make no mistake about it, Arsenal are considered one of the best footballing sides in the world. So how was it that they were so second best against Bayern in midweek.

Sure they were competitive to a degree in the first half, and once Szczesny was dismissed damage limitation had to be considered, but the degree to which Bayern outclassed the Gunners in the possession and passing stakes was excessive, and not acceptable by a side who are themselves one of the best around with the ball.

Arsenal's inability to employ such effective play against top sides, who are in essence their rivals, is what they need to remedy if they are to end their trophy drought.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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