1) Mesut Ozil picking up where he left off
Arsenal’s new star man didn’t take long to set the Premier League alight on his debut last weekend, creating Olivier Giroud’s opener against Sunderland with a brilliant touch and cross. Several defence-splitting through balls later, a change of underwear was necessary for many Arsenal fans. Tonight he makes his Champions League debut for the Gunners, and we can expect more of the same from the German.
2) Aaron Ramsey continuing his fine form
Ramsey has been Arsenal’s best player this season, creating and scoring goals for fun. His energy, hard work and technical prowess has been vital to their recovery since the opening day defeat to Aston Villa, and as Arsene Wenger said, he has improved “dramatically”. More of the same please, Rambo.
3) Mathieu Flamini showing his old club what they’ve missed out on
After he left the French club in 2004, Marseille’s manager Jose Anigo said: “This is a beautiful treason. He used me”. The midfielder showed what the fuss was about, playing a vital part in Arsenal’s journey to the Champions League final in 2006. However, his return to Arsenal this summer certainly raised a few eyebrows, but he has proved his worth instantly. Flamini provides Arsenal with leadership, experience, tough tackling and, most importantly, some protection for the defence. A very shrewd signing by Mr Wenger – cry me a river, Anigo.
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4) Defensive organization and spirit
Arsenal’s defence is often criticized, however it had one of the best records in the Premier League last year, and this season they’ve showed their mettle on a number of occasions. The clean sheet against Tottenham and the spirit shown at the Stadium of Light last weekend was very encouraging indeed, and with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker fit, Arsenal have one of the strongest centre half pairings around.
5) Lightening fast counter-attacking football
Without sounding over the top, some of the counter-attacking football displayed by Arsenal this season has been reminiscent to the Invincibles. Just ask Fenerbahce, Fulham and Sunderland. With Ramsey’s energy and dynamism in the centre and Flamini’s positional discipline and tackling ability, Arsenal have a very effective buffer between the back four and the forward line. Now Ozil is in front of them, the transition from defence to attack is even more lethal, particularly with Theo Walcott’s pace on the wing. No games in six for Theo – tonight could be the night where he ends his drought.
See more from Reuben Lewis @rlewisafc