Second game into the season and the second goalless draw; it’s not exactly the ideal start to the season. The Robin Van Persie sized monkey on our back refuses to go away and until the goals start to roll in we will have to fend off the scathing assessments of our attacking options. I suppose it doesn’t help when Robin himself is already off the mark in his Man United career, the comparisons will be made and last seasons goals will be mentioned at every opportunity.
Arsenal in fairness have not played badly in the two games so far, Santi Cazorla has taken to the team like a duck to water, the defence has not conceded a goal and that’s without first choice Laurent Koscielny playing a game yet. Neutrals watching the game yesterday will be cursing knowing they will never be able to get that hour and a half of their lives back. It’s very rare to get an exciting 0-0 draw and yesterday’s game certainly followed type by not exactly exciting the masses. As an arsenal fan I can’t find the game boring as my focus is solely on seeing the gunners succeed, I kick every ball, head every header and the heart beats faster when we attack or defend.
I’m quite happy that we have come away from the Britannia without a defeat, the ground hasn’t been the best to us over the years and on reflection Arsenal came off the pitch disappointed not to have all three points. We were hardly tested as much as we have been in the past against Stoke, we pretty much kept their attack under control and apart from the offside goal scored by Jonathon Walters the defence stood up to the task. Getting this tie out of the way so early in the season is a good thing I feel when stoke visit emirates that will be 3 points on the board, the away tie is always the banana skin with added pressure due to the bad feeling between the clubs.
The Stoke fans were at their putrid best yesterday, mocking Wenger at every opportunity and showing even more class by booing Aaron Ramsey when he came on as substitute in the second half. Nothing from that club surprises me from the manager to the players to the fans they really are something else and sooner or later their one dimensional football will be found out, let’s hope they are propping up the table this year. I’m quite glad Shawcross has decided against playing for Wales, he still thinks he has a chance with England; he should take a ticket and wait in the queue next to Jermaine Pennant and Joey Barton. Aaron Ramsey doesn’t need the extra burden it would have brought and the right outcome has come about.
Back to the game and Arsene gave his thoughts on the performance in his post match interview, he said:
“We showed we are very strong spirit-wise and we were dominant in the challenges. We were prepared, highly-focused, defensively very strong overall. Offensively we still have some work to do because we miss a bit of accuracy in final third, in our movement and in our passing. We are used to finding each other blind in the final third and there is still something missing. But I still think we should have won the game 1-0.”
It’s a pretty fair and accurate assessment really, we are still finding our feet up front due to new personnel but I can see goals will come soon. Olivier Giroud worked hard up front and did some good things when holding up the ball and bringing others into play, Podolski was more withdrawn playing in the left attacking role, he certainly played his part supporting Gibbs in defence but also showed flashes of danger in the final third.
There was one chance in the final minutes that fell to Olivier Giroud after a quick counter attack, with the stoke defense stretched Aaron Ramsey was steaming through the middle hoping to collect a pass into the middle however the Frenchman spotted Begovic off his line and attempted a lob from about 40 yards. In fairness it was a good shot and skimmed the roof of the net, if that went in we would be talking goal of the season contender. Giroud saw how close the chance was and seemed quite impressed with his effort unfortunately the cameras panned straight to Arsene who was screaming in frustration at a wasted opportunity to square the ball for a better placed player. Poor Giroud was not even aware of the bollocking he was due in the dressing room after the game. The important thing from that chance is it showed Giroud’s confidence to even attempt and nearly execute such a chance, his performance was ok and after a week or two of fine tuning in attack and we will score for fun.
Since I last blogged we have lost out in our pursuit of Nuri Sahin, a shame maybe but after hearing the kind of money Liverpool were prepared to pay for him for one season it is clear they haven’t learned from the open chequebook wasting of money Kenny Dalgleish brought to the club. Wenger has been quite open that he still intends to add to the squad before the window closes. I feel we really need to add reinforcements to midfield with Song gone. One player not coming in to replace him is Chek Tiote after Wenger ruled out any truth to that rumour. After being asked about the player in yesterdays press conference the manager said:
“Tiote is a good player but he is not on his way to Arsenal”
A shame as he was a player that had some good battles with song in the middle of the park for the past couple seasons and has impressed for Newcastle.
Alex Song has been speaking to the press over in Spain and claims that he wanted to sign a new contract to stay at Arsenal for the past year. He explained that the club kept putting off talks using the excuse that he had enough time and did not need to rush negotiations.
“I was ready to commit my future to the club. All I wanted were talks about a new contract but each time we were due to sit down, the club postponed it. I was fobbed off. I wanted a new five-year contract at Arsenal. In the end I got one… at Barcelona”
Not the kind of thing we want to hear when we are trying to move on. It certainly turns the heat back onto Ivan Gazidis and his team as to why something like this could happen (if Song is telling the whole truth). As I’ve stated in the past the departure of Song is not a disaster and he can be replaced, the important factor is a player coming in as cover; Arteta and Diaby have been doing a good job covering but I would still prefer an experienced specialist defensive midfielder coming in. I won’t dwell too much on the contract situation with Song but it will be a problem with me if it become a regular occurrence.
Special mention to Vito Mannone who came into the side yesterday after Szczesny didn’t recover from a rib injury in time. Fans up and down the country were hardly filled with great confidence when that news broke however the Italian did all that was asked of him and came out of the game with a clean sheet. Fair play.
Enjoy your day people
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