I guess, three days after the event, it’s a little late to go into a detailed review of the Arsenal Sunderland match. Particularly as it was, well, a bit of a non event. To me, it was one of those games where Arsenal needed an early goal to open the game up. Having failed to get that goal, we found ourselves unable to break through Sunderland’s massed ranks. And, with their furthest player forward often to be found ten yards inside their own half, they were certainly massed!
That’s not a criticism, by the way. As dispriting as it was to watch the away fans celebrate a a point in a match where their team did nothing of note past the quarter hour mark as if they’d won the league*, I think you have to accept a team’s right to set up how they want to. And overcome it. we didn’t do that, basically because we didn’t attack very well and because they did defend well. The fact that Wojciech Szczesny could have stayed in the changing room at half time and nobody would have noticed was a small consolation as we trooped off towards The Library on Saturday evening- yes that’s towards, not out of it…
But it was some consolation. We were completely in control of the match and whilst you would say that, in an ideal world, Diaby and Arteta would have moved the ball out of midfield quicker than they did, I felt there were reasons to be positive. Obviously, the performances of Walcott and Gervinho were not that. Gervinho was frustrating in that he can beat a man very easily, yet somehow still manages to run into the next defender- it happened countless times on Saturday. Walcott was just… Walcott. I don’t know what else to say really. However, in Cazorla and Giroud, I see reason to be positive. Cazorla came closest to breaking the deadlock with a fierce drive tipped over the bar in the first half and also, showed his awareness and appreciation of space in some of his passing. I feel certain that one in particular would have resulted in a goal had Olivier Giroud been on the pitch a bit longer than he had been/ sharper/ right footed.
Ok, it was a bad miss, particularly as it ended up costing us three points. However, as I said in the pub after- at least he had a shot; Bendtner would still be trying to control the ball and Chamakh would have probably turned back to pass it. I feel certain that as sharpness comes to Giroud, so will the goals. You could say that about the team in general, I think. With a slightly less busy pre season than we would have liked, ironically- given the blazing hot sunshine- we felt a little undercooked. Unfortunately, despite the introduction of the striker, Ramsey and Arshavin, we couldn’t quite get to the boil.
It’s only my opinion, but I don’t think it’s rocket science to suggest that the returns of the Ox and Bacary Sagna will give the team a different pace going forward. Obviously, today’s seen news that Jack Wilshere may be in line to come back sooner than was previously thought. A fully firing Wilshere would also up the tempo of our team, but he’s not somebody we can rely on just yet. Perhaps as Diaby plays, if he can stay fit, and gets used to something more than an occasional cameo he can also bring something to the party. We’ve seen him do it before and I love the way he opens his body to create space. So simple, but so clever. We also have, though I have a tendency to keep forgetting him, Rosicky to return and he plays the game very quickly.
Yeah, I feel like the team can only improve as it plays together and gets used to each other. Podolski seemed, to me, to be coming deep too often to really cause Sunderland trouble. Perhaps that impacted on Walcott’s inability to get in the game. Of interest to me was Arsene’s comment that the three striker “formula” on Saturday hadn’t worked. This formation, a formation once designed to get the best out of Cesc and then the judasbastard whose name shall henceforth never be mentioned, perhaps needs some fine tuning with the new arrivals. Perhaps Arsene is going to come up with something else, or maybe it was just one of those days.
Alex Song, as you know, signed for Barcelona yesterday. A strange signing, I think. I’m not convinced he is good enough to play centre back for them and when you think of the midfielders they already have… they say he’s cover for Busqets. It’s difficult to think that, when both are fit, he would ever get the nod over the Spaniard. He’d obviously become a player of some importance at Arsenal, but I’m not convinced he was as important as he thought he was. Particularly as he wasn’t really doing the job that everyone thought he should be doing last year. Yes, I know about the assists, but I wonder how many goals Arteta might have created had he not been doing the covering you’d think Song better suited to.
Anyway, he’s gone, we have- by all accounts- Sahin coming in, let the midfield bunfight begin!
* Their “Vermaelen/ He’s leaving next year” song in response to our Vermaelen chant was quite funny, I thought. Though hopefully not true…
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