We beat Crystal Palace 2-1 yesterday in a tedious encounter. Palace were set up to frustrate, and that’s exactly what they did… and they would have succeeded too if it wasn’t for that pesky Aaron Ramsey… at least that’s what they’ll be thinking.
Ramsey is off the charts though with his goal scoring instincts, having scored five now in his last six competitive games for the gunners. This lad can’t stop scoring at the moment, and why should he… If you’ve got the hot boots at the moment, make it count i say.
BREAKING DOWN THE PERFORMANCE:
1. Calum Chambers: Perfect place to start when talking about what we did right on the day.. The teenager was convincing once more at center back, and i must say that i can now see what Wenger sees in him. Watching him yesterday, his positional awareness was flawless. The timing of his tackles were accurate and if it were Kompany playing for Arsenal yesterday, I wouldn’t know the difference. He moved the ball well, passed it accurately and provided a useful outlet when someone got into trouble. He certainly has a future in Defensive Midfield on this evidence. The boss said this about him:
I must say, honestly, we bought him as a right back, but in my opinion he could play centre back. I tried it in pre-season and from game to game he becomes stronger. Today he had a remarkable performance.
2. Confidence: I noticed a distinct difference between our play last season and in this game. Even with the fitness issues and lack of understanding between some of the new players, you could see that we calmly and confidently controlled the entire game. there was no panic moment as such bar 1 or 2, and you can see that we kept on going till the last minute and of course nicked the winner very late. The recent haul of trophies certainly play a role here.
3. Commitment: I’ll single out Alexis Sanchez for praise in this regard. He played as if he was an Arsenal fan, chasing back when he lost the ball, recovering it, and generally running his behind off. The whole team put on an incredible shift too, and Palace did not scare us off with their aggressive tackles as would have happened in seasons past.
4. Skill and Variety: Alexis again takes the plaudits here. His skillfulness has added a new dimension to our game. We are less predictable now, and the fact that both our goals came off set pieces against a team strong in defending set-pieces, shows that Wenger is more tactical in his approach now than in seasons past. Arsene also sang Sanchez’ praises:
I am very happy with his attitude because he kept on fighting for 90 minutes, even if he is not completely ready physically. Tactically he needs to improve his understanding with his partners but he looked lively and dangerous until the end. I’m happy with his overall attitude and performance.
5. Squad Depth: The fact that Giroud, Ozil, Mertesacker, Walcott, and Podolski all did not start this game should scare teams. While we still need to strengthen in a few areas, I think depth has finally come to the Emirates stadium, and this has also contributed markedly to our variety in play.
I don’t like to dwell on negatives so ill just point out three areas where we need to improve upon:
1. Defensive Midfield: Not to slight Arteta. I felt he did ‘okay’ on the day, but what about against teams like Man City, Liverpool, and Chelsea. Can he cope? The answer is NO. We need to sign a strong defensive midfielder if this is possible. Not that I have any names, but the club should be identifying talent all over the world. They have the resources, I don’t. Just giving my honest opinion.
2. Set-pieces: Between pre-season and now, we’ve conceded about 4 set-piece goals or more. This simply has to stop, or at least be improved upon. Why no player was at the post during corner kicks is beyond me. Had there been someone there, then their goal would not have gone in. Simple and short.
3. Central attack: I wouldn’t put my faith in Sanogo in the premier league at the mooment. Giroud needs real competition. If we can get Cavani, then that will be truly perfect. I really think he will rediscover his best form with Ozil, and alexis as his suppliers, and of course playing in his preferred role as the target man rather than as a supporting striker.
I think 3 points is the best way to start any season especially in a home game. I’m not with those that suggest we did not play well. I thought we gave a good account of ourselves. As I write, I am watching Newcastle vs Manchester City, having seen Liverpool Vs Southampton earlier on.
What’s clear to me is that teams are yet to hit top form, and ours on this evidence was one of the better performances of the weekend. We looked sharp, and fluent in the first half. Fitness concerns began to rare its ugly head in the second, but i believe that these issues will be sorted out as more games are played.We should be hitting top form by the second week of September and there is no doubt in my mind, that with two or three more signings, we will be as close to winning the premier league as we have ever been; One center back, One DM, and One Striker.
All for today folks.