FC Sturm Graz 0 – 3 Arsenal
If you watched yesterday’s game between FC Sturm Graz and Arsenal, you’ll probably agree with the subject of today’s blog. Samir Nasri put on a show for us that reminded us all what a player we have on our hands and how effective he can be if deploy in the middle three of our 4-3-3. The player touted as the next Zidane looked head and shoulders above the rest and was in the heart of everything good. Of course, he caught the headlines with his two goals, but playing through the middle alongside Wilshere and Frimpong (our future Cesc and Song), he really excelled.
Nasri has played for us pretty much on the wings since he joined us and it’s not his natural position – he isn’t as effective as I think he can be if deployed in the middle. Last year I really did question why players like Nasri, Rosicky and Diaby played on the top 3 of a 4-3-3 and in the friendlies so far, both Rosicky and Nasri have played more centrally – it’s a role that suits them much better. Nasri is refreshed and by not going to the World Cup, he’s been able to knuckle down and get himself into shape.
If Arsene does move Nasri into the middle, then our potential line up could be (I’ll explain the other selections later):
Sagna – Djourou – Vermaelen – Clichy
Nasri – Song
Walcott – Cesc – Arshavin
Which brings to an end the debate of why one of Diaby or Diaby finds themselves automatic picks, as they won’t. As you can see from the line-up above, I’ve chosen Djourou over Koscielny to partner Vermaelen. Djourou’s vastly experienced compared to his French counterpart and also very much more physically advanced. In what I’ve seen of Djourou since his return, he’s shown me that he can come in as first choice and do a job.
The two new signings Koscielny and Chamakh don’t look up to scratch right now – I know it’s early but I’ve not been exactly impressed with their performances. Koscielny does look much smaller than the Arsenal.com site made out he was and doesn’t look like he’s ready for the Premiership. Despite his transfer fee of £8.5m, I think he has been brought in as a player with a lot of potential and as third choice. I will obviously give you more feedback throughout the next set of friendlies and I hope it’s down to fitness and he comes good quicker than later. Chamakh has a few positives – he is always hungry for the ball, and also seems to be suited to the 4-3-3, a formation he played with Bordeaux. He looks like he needs games and that makes sense, he also looks like he needs to find some confidence as I can’t remember too many shots on target from the Moroccan. His touch did let him down a few times – but like Koscielny, it’s too early to judge.
Havard Nordtveit looked much better than I thought he would. He was solid, conventional, calm and technically very capable. His stock has risen considerably in my eyes and despite his lack of involvement in the Arsenal team since he was signed, he does look very much like he could fit in. He was deployed at an unfamiliar right back position, but did quite well. His favoured position is centre back and he could be ready to step up his game. I think we’ll see a bit more of him in the friendlies and maybe this year he’ll have a role in the cups and as fourth choice centre back. Sol Campbell is still on the website as a player, so he could still be back in Arsenal colours next season – although I’m unsure of whether it’s the best signing for us, considering the youth coming through – would Sol get a game?
The first half line up was:
Nordtveit – Djourou – Vermaelen (c) – Traore
Frimpong – Wilshere
Walcott – Nasri – Arshavin
and the second half line up was:
Nordtveit – Djourou – Koscielny – Gibbs
Eastmond – Lansbury
JET – Rosicky – Wilshere
Although the positions I’ve mentioned may not be that accurate, as JET and Walcott switched a few times and Wilshere, Lansbury and Rosicky occupied mixture of positions.
A round up of the team now (well, those not mentioned above)…
Traore – made a few mistakes and still does raise an eyebrow – with Clichy and Gibbs ahead of him, does he really have a future at Arsenal? When he came on the second half for Wilshere (late on), he played up front in the front three, but wasn’t quite right up there either, although his crossing has improved.
Frimpong – A nervy start was followed by a steady game and he did look like Song in terms of movement. He is certainly in the reckoning at the moment, and I’d like to see more of him in the up coming friendlies.
Wilshere – Industrious, but never really stole the show as he has previously. A bad tackle earnt him a yellow, but I’ll need to see him again before I can really comment.
Eastmond – Does a simple job, more like Gilberto Silva than Song. He had a solid game with a few mistakes – I expected him to be stronger this term, but no real physical improvement.
Lansbury – This guy never ceases to amaze me, he scored a goal, but his overall play was exceptional considering his lack of playing time over the last couple of years. Definitely want to see more of him.
Rosicky – Looks more comfortable in the middle and looks to have finally shaken off his injury woes. Let’s see how he fairs in the next couple of games.
Walcott – Still looks a little hit and miss, but showed flashes of brilliance. The jurys out though.
JET – Personally, I thought he was brilliant. He took his chance, and in my opinion was more effective that Walcott. Some brilliant turns and some excellent passes show he has an all round game. Cited as being lazy before, but he looked very much up for the game and is an exciting player.
So, there we have it – another successful friendly. A decent run out for the team, who impressed you and who do you think will get into the team this season?
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