RC Lens 1 – 1 Arsenal
After 2.5 months of no Arsenal footie, we finally saw our boys play again. An early friendly is notoriously hard to take any lessons from, especially when Arsene makes so many changes during half time. I only saw a summary of the first half but did manage to see the whole of the second half. I invite fellow bloggers to share their views on the match and here are my eight observations:
- The Ox’s horns are sharp. Alex played with great hunger and his drive forwards was an inspiration to the team. He produced more than decent attacking play for others, and he leveled the game with a sumptuous chip good old Dennis will certainly approve of. And Gnabry deserve credit for a nice weighted through-ball (even though is overall game did not impress tonight). Early days of course, butAOC’s display and finish will have pleased Arsene tonight.
- Chambers looked sharp going forward when he was deployed as FB. He linked up well with the Ox and put a few half-decent balls into the box. However, defensively he looked less secure and let’s hope this is simply due to rustiness.
- Theo did not impress much. He did not lead the line in such a way that inspired his younger team mates and his timing and positioning in the box were nothing to write home about. Again, it is early days and let’s see how he will fare during our North American friendlies, but he will need to step up significantly if he is to remain in Arsene’s mind for regular starts.
- Iwobi looked lively and confident and he played some fine through-balls; let’s hope he can build further on his impressive PL debut at the end of last season.
- Without a ‘holding CF’ we lacked structure in our game as our creative midfielders seemed to struggle putting their stamp on the match without having the benefit of linking up with someone in and around the box. However, the arrival of Zelalem saw us play more intelligently, passing and holding on to the ball better and also making better runs in and around the box. Had the game lasted ten minutes longer, I am sure we would have won it. Zelalem is a very promising talent and let’s see how he will do during the remaining pre-season games.
- Joel Campbell, Kieran Gibbs and Per Mertesacker tried hard to put their stamp on the game but they were all still a bit rusty. Especially Kieran will have to use these opportunities to convince Wenger that he is more than a decent bench warmer. But I loved his attitude and some of his attacking play was promising.
- Matt Macey looked composed and made a very decent safe half way through the second half. I never saw him play before but first impressions are good. How hard is it though for a GK to break through at a club like Arsenal?
- Wenger looked rested and driven during his break time interview and that is always nice to see.
These are my initial impressions; what are yours?