Arsenal 3 – 2 Man City:
A Friendly that provided hope for winning the title this season.
- We have a plan-B in attack, or will it even become plan-A this season? Alexis up-front with Rambo in the hole worked really well. We were sloppy with taking our chances in the first half but we created some excellent opportunities and that is all I am asking for in a friendly: the rest will come. In fact, it came in the second half any way but the first half was also promising even though we did not manage to score then. Alexis, supported by Rambo, Ox and Iwobi put good pressure on the MC defence and this derailed them considerably, leading to a number of good chances. Alexis played for the team and crowned his performance with a fine assist whilst also hitting the woodwork with a fine free-kick. If teams come to dominate us in our own half, playing Rambo in the hole and Alexis up top could work a treat time and again.
- We won the battle in midfield and were able to keep them from dominating us in our own half. In fact, we often dominated them in their half, especially in the second half. It was weird to see Xhaka play so high up the pitch, as I expected him to sit deeper. But with Le Coq also playing, it made sense for Xhaka to play in the b2b role. I am not sure whether combining Coq and Xhaka is the way forward, but early days of course. Citeh made a large number of fouls and put their foot in once or twice, but our boys offered good physicality back and we were not outmuscled: this provides hope for the coming season as a forceful and skilful midfield is key to success. And our midfield is better than ever now (well almost 🙂 ).
- Theo had a good second half after not playing in the first half. A good assist for our first goal and a brilliant pre-assist and goal for the all important second goal will have done him a world of good. It is just one game but don’t be surprise if he scores the winner this Sunday.
- Elneny formed a better balance with le Coq than Xhaka did, and his presence, interventions and near-perfect passing made all the difference for us. For a long time in the second half we were in total control and our Egyptian master of efficiency was the key driver in midfield for this. We have to play him as much as possible going forward: he is that important.
- Iwobi shows again that he is ahead of the Ox. The younger Alex took his half chance with focus and maturity, whereas AOC took his half chance and one big chance with naivety. The problem is the Ox has played 100 or so PL games and should know better. We needed composure to level the game and Iwobi took his goal with real concentration. It reminded me a bit of Henry, as in you know what Iwobi was going to do but he still managed to beat the keeper. That is class.
- I love Campbell’s work rate and team play and reckon he has made huge progress since a year ago. This is a player who could easily play himself into the first team ahead of Ox, Theo and even Iwobi. Iwobi and Joel’s performances are putting Wenger under pressure in terms of buying another (mid)winger. Let’s see what will happen.
- Our CB pairing did not look good yesterday, and then poor Gabriel gets horribly injured as well. We conceded two bad goals and I reckon Gabriel was just overcompensating for the lack of organisation and control in our defence. His injury did not come as a big surprise to me. Wenger will need to be decisive now: either get a PL capable CB asap or move either Debuchy, Monreal, le Coq or Chambers next to Koz (who needs to return asap of course). We need a consistent and steady partnership around which we can build the defence.
- He scores when he is on: Akpom has impressed us all with his positioning and timing and has scored three times in a row now. I love his physical presence and economic use of his energy: he is not lazy neither does he run at 100 miles per hour all the time, but he serves the team well with his runs, link up play and positioning; and Chuba brings home the bacon time and again. I would love us to keep Akpom in the squad this season and give him a good chance to shine.
I like our energy, maturity, midfield dominance and creativity in attack, and if we can quickly sort our CB issues, we have a very good chance to win the title this year. Adding another quality attacker may help as well. 😉