Now that is how you start a new season. Yesterday I threw some caution to the wind as promoted teams have the potential to throw a spanner into the works. Luckily it didn’t turn out that way as the Arsenal team ran out comfortable winners against new boys Fulham.
A couple of the new boys in Gabriel and Willian started the match, both of them contributing largely to the win, Our star striker scored a trademark peach of a goal and we kept a clean sheet. What wasn’t to love about that? The only dampener was the fact the fans weren’t able to be there in person to celebrate with the team.
It really was an impressive start and that feeling of being top of the league for however long it lasts does feel nice. Let’s enjoy it while we can as you can never guarantee once you are off the top how long before you return.
So what were the takeaway points from the game? Well I could start with before the game as BT Sports weren’t slow in beaming out footage of a warm up spat between Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah. Yes, things were a little heated in a couple of clashes but the whole thing was over as soon as it started. The two players sharing a picture of solidarity post match to quash any overzealous journalist’s plans to take their first chips at Arteta’s Arsenal amour with a negative story.
With that out the way and the game underway all eyes were on the new boys. It raised a few eyebrows when William Saliba wasn’t even named on the bench given the injury to David Luiz. Arteta has his reasons and the young Frenchman’s chance will come but in his absence Gabriel was given his first start and he didn’t fail to impress.
Admittedly in the opening few minutes there was one moment where a mix up with Leno could have led to a goal but beyond that initial moment the performance of the Brazilian was calm, composed and dominant. The icing on the cake was a debut goal and clean sheet to make for an instant impact to his Arsenal career. I’m liking this start and there’s capacity for him to get better and better, a massive tick of approval on this signing so far.
As for the other new boy, Willian took to his berth in the Arsenal line-up like a duck to water. Understandably he has bags of premiership experience and has been one of Chelsea’s leading players over the years. His quality was not a surprise and I’m sure that now those that may have doubted his signing might have got a glimmer of what he has to offer.
A debut with two (or three depending on how rose tinted your glasses are) assists isn’t too shabby at all. His quality shone through and he has laid down the gauntlet of competition to his new colleagues that also occupy his position. Competition is healthy and it will no doubt bring out the best in the players. They cannot afford to rest on their laurels and there will be an expectation to bring their A game when called on to the pitch.
Lacazette chipped in with a goal which is always great for a striker to get off the mark nice an early into the season and of course our skipper contributed with what is becoming a trademark finish.
A finish I’d like to call the reverse Robben, you know that goal where he would fly down the right hand side, cut in onto his left, work an opening and bang! Back of the net. Aubamyang’s finish was almost a carbon copy of his last goal against Liverpool in the Charity Shield in the way he cut himself an opening inside his marker then provided a finish of pure quality, power, bend and accuracy into the far corner. I wouldn’t say you don’t save those but more often than not even the best keepers struggle to handle such finishes. Another goal and the hope is a final conclusion to a new and improved signed contract this week.
One thing noticed was the absence of Emi Martinez from the squad and if reports are correct then he is on his way to Aston Villa. It will be sad to see the Argentinian go. He spent many years as an understudy in the hope of one day becoming number one keeper. Last season really was a defining moment in his career and one he hasn’t needed to look back from since. It has been a meteoric rise in such a short space of time and Arsenal fans can’t begrudge him the ambition he has to be a number one keeper somewhere. There are many keepers out there happy to be a career number two, pick up their wages, play a handful of games and be content with that.
Martinez has proved himself a very able keeper and a return to the Argentinian national squad and potentially become a feature for them is a very realistic possibility with club football as a number one. From a selfish perspective having two top quality keepers would be ideal but we can’t begrudge one of our longest serving current players an opportunity to be more than a number two.
It’s funny when you look back to that game against Brighton when Leno got injured and the amount of dread that spread through the fans that the season would be seen out with an understudy. Martinez had deputised many times in the past but it’s really from the Brighton game that he proved all those years of hard work were visible in his performances. Can you imagine his worth before the Brighton game compared to now? He will be leaving us for a fee circa £20m which will hopefully be spent wisely on reinforcements.
The Martinez story could act as inspiration to the current crop of keepers and Matt Macey another keeper who has put in the years at the club could take any opportunities that come his way with both hands. Although I think a new keeper may come in, the door is not shut on current personnel to prove their selves. Let’s see how this one plays out.
For now we can just bask in the knowledge that we are top of the league and for our new signing Gabriel dreams can come true.
Enjoy you day people.
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