Andrey Arshavin wrapped up a late win for Arsenal but Lee Bowyer’s goal ensured the Gunners had to work hard to earn the three points.
Only two points were dropped last season by Manchester United against teams outside the ‘big four’ in comparison to Arsenal’s fifteen and it seems manager Arsene Wenger is going some way in correcting that stat this campaign. The Gunners have now scored 27 goals in eight games making them the highest scoring club at this stage in Premier League history.
“We’ll out score you” has been the mantra and the way Wenger’s team line-up reaffirmed that adventurousness. Eboue was favoured ahead of Bakary Sagna at right back for his more direct style while Fabregas looked to push up close to van Persie whenever possible. And they made a blistering start to the game going ahead by two goals in a space of a couple of minutes. First van Persie did well to control Song’s pass before firing a trademark angled shot into the right corner. Abou Diaby then doubled the lead, getting on to the end of a Rosicky cut back. Despite all the tactical evolutions in the past few years, arriving late in the penalty area is something which defenders have not got their heads round yet and if the gangly midfielder can repeat the same movements more often, he is sure to get around ten goals a season.
However Diaby will ultimately be judged for his outside play and luckily for him, this time he didn’t disappoint. Continuing on from his role as the auxiliary left central midfielder, he provided ample cover for Rosicky to flourish as the Czech midfielder made a lively start to the game before tiring out. But Diaby kept on grafting and linked up play well and along with Alex Song provided the base for the attacking players to shine. Theo Walcott’s comeback was cut short but it not before the winger made an encouraging start to the game on the more direct right flank. Robin van Persie was as unselfish as ever and his movement across the line created space for others while Fabregas produced a more all-round performance in the heart of midfield.
The Gunners probably made their most impressive start to a game this season, stroking the ball and moving around the pitch with much conviction but as it reached the half hour mark, complacency started to creep in. Vito Manonne’s error in judgement gifted Birmingham a way into the match and soon the jitters kicked in. The restlessness of the fans seemed to transcend to the players and despite coping with Birmingham’s threat fairly well, only a goal looked like it would ease the players’ nerves. As it was Andrey Arshavin coolly slotted in a deadly Arsenal counter attack to confirm the win as Arsenal continued their winning streak at home.
Arsenal 3-1 Birmingham City: van Persie 16, Diaby 18, Bowyer 38, Arshavin 84.
ARSENAL: Mannone (6), Eboue (7) (Wilshere 90min), Gallas (6), Vernaelen (6), Gibbs (6), Diaby (7), Fabregas (7), Song (7), Walcott (7) (Arshavin 33min, 7), Van Persie (7), Rosicky (6) (Sagna 72min)
BIRMINGHAM: Hart (7), Carr (6), Ridgewell (6), R Johnson (6), Dann (7), Bowyer 97), Larsson (7), Ferguson (6), Carsley (6) (Phillips 79min) Jerome (5) (O’Connor 61min), McFadden (5) (McSheffrey 70min)
Yellow cards: Arsenal: Song Birmingham: Hart, Ridgewell
Referee: J Probert