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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Emirates revival continues

It’s hard to guess just which aspect of Saturday’s 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion will have pleased Arsene Wenger the most: the fact that in securing the three points he moved his side level on points with Liverpool and within touching distance of fourth place, or that in doing so his side managed to secure back-to-back clean sheets for just the second time this season.

The return to fitness of Thomas Vermaelen has been a stabilising factor in this recent improvement in defence – the Belgian started their home matches against Marseille in mid-week as well as against West Brom on Saturday – and now with Ramsey and Song employed to provide extra cover for their under-fire back-four, this has allowed Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta to supply ample service to the mercurial Robin van Persie. Anyone who has placed a football bet will have been impressed.

Back in August, shut-outs against Newcastle and Udinese acted as a smokescreen for the seemingly disastrous run of fixtures to follow, culminating in Arsenal losing against their bitter North London rivals Tottenham on October 2nd to sit in 15th place with just seven points from their opening seven games.

However, now on a run of five straight league wins and with Norwich, Fulham and Wigan lined up as their next Premiership opponents; Wenger strikes a far happier figure than the one that was left seething on the touchline as his paper-thin defence shipped eight goals at Old Trafford and four more at Ewood Park a fortnight later.

During every season, most sides in the Premiership will experience a "blip" – a run of poor results which both appears and disappears without obvious rhyme or reason – Wenger will be both pleased to have got his out of the way early, and relieved that it has not inflicted irreparable damage to his side’s aspirations of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

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