The season has kicked off and football is back in a big way.
Yesterday’s game left a sour feeling amongst all Arsenal fans, whilst not trying to be overly negative, my honest feeling yesterday was a feeling of failing to correct the problems from last season, a lack of ideas and a lack of leadership. It was very frustrating to see the team play out the game yesterday – we seem really low on confidence and personally, lacking fitness – I saw most of the Newcastle team beat a lot of our players for pace – we did look leggy.
- Physical condition, 80%
- Mental condition, 50%
At least it means we can improve! And we have to – with Udinese on Tuesday, we really have to improve. If we play like we did against Newcastle, then I don’t think we’ll beat Udinese… Okay, back to the game yesterday, and let’s take a look at the starting line up:
Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs
Ramsey – Song
Gervinho – Rosicky – Arshavin
With a bench of Fabianski, Djourou, Frimpong, Walcott, Oxlade, Chamakh and Jenkinson
The summary of the game can only be described as the opposite of last season’s game. In terms of performance, we concentrated well in defence, although at times, the positioning of Koscielny was very worrying!
The style of football wasn’t as free flowing as we’re used to – as mentioned above, the fitness levels didn’t seem quite there – perhaps a sign of our tour not having the same impact as the previously pre-seasons. We kept the ball down but a lot of our passing was misplaced. Newcastle’s physical approach meant we didn’t get any time on the ball and when we did, the wrong decisions were made. We did opt for quite a few long balls during the game, which is an unusual for us but also a sign of panic.
Without the likes of Nasri, Cesc, Wilshere, Diaby – we did lack the spark of creativity and calmness and for that reason we lacked quality in attack. Robin Van Persie shows signs of skills but mentally, he wasn’t at the races – the departures of key players, surely having an effect on his physci. Our new signing, Gervinho looked good in spurts but lacked the final ball. He did well in the dribble and did well linking up with the rest of his team mates – he has a big future at the Arsenal, but unfortunately, he will now miss the next three games.
One thing that was noteable, was a high level of frustration in the team, which exerted itself in misplaced passes and fouls across the pitch. Alex Song should have been sent off for his horrible stamp on Joey Barton and Gervinho’s reaction to Barton’s throat grab was not what we want to see – Barton was wholeheartedly in the wrong, but slapping or punching a player is a red and we have no excuses. Arsene needs to instil discipline into our squad – with the squad thin bare, big players sold and injuries always mounting, suspensions is the last thing we need. The refereeing was harsh and unfair, Barton should have also seen red.
Arsene commenting: “I think I saw two yellows or two reds but not one yellow and one red.”
And on the game, he said:
“I thought we had a solid performance and were in control. Newcastle had last season’s 4-4 more in their mind than we did. They organised not to concede goals, defended well and it was very difficult for us because we played a team who was highly focused to defend. We missed something, the regret is that we missed something in the final third and in the speed of our passing. But, overall, we had a good performance. I can’t remember giving Newcastle a chance at goal and, away from home, you have to give credit to our team for that.”
There are positives to be taken, and Gervinho, despite his sending off, was a bright spark – Theo is back and played well on his return to the team – we looked good defensively overall. Arshavin was in the press via his own site yesterday and said this:
“Arsenal was dominating the pitch, held the initiative. In my opinion, the opponent didn’t have a single scoring chance. Perhaps, in some moment we were not quick enough. Maybe, in general, we lacked a little sharpness. Up until the last minute of the match I believed in our win.When the referee showed him the red card, I had a feeling strikingly different from the one I had experienced last season. A year ago I would have thought that now we could concede. But this time, on the contrary, I felt that we would manage to press on and win in the minority. Of course, now we are upset that we didn’t get enough points.”
And finally, a shout out to Gary Neville, who despite his background of being United’s right back for the last 10 years, which means he’s never sat well with Arsenal fans. Neville is now a pundit, and I expected a lot of anti-Arsenal and pro-United speak in his punditry, but I have to admit, there has been quite a surprise in his comments. If you haven’t read this, then please do….
“If you buy a house, you’re investing for 20 years of your life. And in those first few years, when the mortgage payments are a bit tough, unfortunately you might have to cut down on your holidays. That’s the equivalent of what Arsene Wenger has done these last six years.”
And courtesy of @ArsenalChina, this is how you say Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in Chinese: 阿莱克斯·奥克斯雷德-张伯伦. Anyone up for putting that on their shirt?