Match review: Theo, OG and Pod look sharp, Full Backs rusty, Eisfeld and Akpom impress

Picture from Arsenal.com.
Picture from Arsenal.com.

Quick thoughts on a game that was easy on the eye, against a weak but hard working opponent.

Today, Arsenal played a lot better than expected, given the heat and it being the first game of the season. A lot of youngsters were given a chance in this game, although Arsene opted for a solid defence with only Miquel, and Jenkinson to some extent, as non-regulars. He also started with the so familiar double-DM pairing of Ramsey and Arteta which gave the team structure and balance from the start. Fabianski was preferred to Szczesny, but I don’t think we can read much into this (yet). Up-front, Ox played in the hole, with Gnabry and Theo on the wings; and the biggest surprise of the day, Akpom held the line.

Arsenal played with a relatively high tempo from the start and passed the ball round well. As a team, they looked a bit rusty at times, as a number of combinations of passes were not completed and did not lead to a chance in the first half.

It was good to see us using the wings well, and especially Walcott looked sharp. Gnabry looked lively, and reminds me a lot of Ox, but especially in the first half he lacked a bit of  patience and composure at times. In the second half he improved, and the assist for  the second goal showed what he is capable of when he opts to go to the by-line and produce a fine assist for another attacker, rather than go inside and try to score a wonder goal.

Ox played quite well in midfield, and his interception in our own half and subsequent run with the ball led to the only goal in the first half. Ox  remained calm and pulled back the ball to Theo, who took his chance really well from the edge of the box.

Arteta was solid and demanding, and Ramsey was very active and driven and one of the best players of the half. Really nice to see him up for this game and trying to make things happen.

Gibbs and Jenkinson did have little to do as defenders but their forward play was below par in the first half. A number of crosses were inaccurate or weak, and they looked rusty in general, although they did worked hard to support our attackers.

Akpom struggled to assert himself on the game in the first half: he did not make himself available and was not anticipating the game / be at the right place at the right time enough. However, just like Gnabry, he improved significantly in the second half, and he did everything right for the second goal. He is still very young, but is showing real promise.

Arteta, Mertesacker, Fabianski , Koz and Sagna did not have to do much defensively, so I cannot pass much judgement on their performances today.  Sagna was very effective going forward, though, and he produced a couple of assists in quick succession.

I was  a bit disappointed in our young, Spanish CB today. Miquel made some fine interceptions and produced a very nice long ball, but he was at fault in defence a few times and this could have led to a goal – stronger opposition would have pounced on his mistakes today.

Once the second goal went in, and with Arsenal bringing on Giroud, Podolski, Rosicky and Sagna it became a really easy game for us. Good chances were created and our players took them well. Zelalem and Olsson made good first impressions, and the latter converted Rosicky’s superb cross into the box really well.

It was great to see Giroud sharp from the moment he came onto the pitch; especially his second goal was a fine finish. The same goes for Podolski who took his chance well.

However, the goal of the match for me belongs to Eisfeld, who impressed me once again very much with his composure, reading of the game and effectiveness/directness. He was given great service by Giroud for his goal, but he still had a lot to do. He finished in a ‘Neymar-esque’ style, with a vicious and well-placed shot that left the half-decent Indonesian goalie with no chance whatsoever!

We cannot take much from this game, as our opponents were too weak to give us a proper game, but I liked our energy and appetite, the tempo with which we played and the many chances we created AND converted.

It was also  great to see so many fellow Gooners supporting our team many thousands of miles away: they did our club proud! And luckily none of our players got injured.

Bring on the Vietnamese! 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

Indonesia Dream Team v Arsenal pre-view: Miquel, Ryo, Gnabry, Eisfeld to shine?

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s friendly against ‘Indonesia Dream Team’: nothing is a better antidote against the poisonous Torture Window shenanigans than watching a game of football involving our boys. It will only be temporary relief, and as per the nature of early season friendlies, it probably won’t be much of a game to watch, but at least the ball will be rolling again and we can watch eleven Arsenal shirts in action for the first time in two month.

This is the 24-man squad for the Asia Tour (thanks JM for providing the data):
GK: Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny, Damian Martinez

DF: Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Ignasi Miquel, Bacary Sagna

MF: Mikel Arteta, Ryo, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Serge Gnabry, Kris Olsson, Thomas Eisfeld, Chuks Aneke, Gedion Zelalem

FW: Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Chuba Akpom

The following players did not travel to Indonesia:

i) Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal (extended rest due to their involvement in the Confederations Cup)
ii) Yaya Sanago (still with France at the Under-20 World Cup)
iii) Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby, Emmanuel Frimpong (injured/recovering)
iv) Gervinho (announced as “sickness” … or something more ?…. Linked with Marseille, Roma)
v) Joel Campbell, Wellington Silva (no work permit to play for Arsenal yet?)
vi) Chamakh, Bendtner, Santos, CY Park (on sales)

I have not got a clue which team Arsene will select for tomorrow’s friendly, which will be shown by ESPN at Sunday 2.45 p.m. If I had my way, I would start with a strong team, but give at least some of the youngsters a chance to show us how much further they have developed last season. I would love to see more of Gnabry, Miquel, Eisfeld, Olsson, Aneke, Zelalem and Akpom during this tour.

I don’t think Arsene will add more than two or three top players to the team this summer, and with a number of players who were regarded as surplus to requirement now departed – with more to follow – there is a good opportunity for some of the above mentioned youngsters to play themself into the squad for next season.

Your guess is as good as mine as in who is going to start in tomorrow’s team. This is a time for experimenting and it will be interesting to see how we line up, in terms of formation, and who will start/ play where. No doubt, Arsene will make many substitutions and it will be hard to pull any big conclusions from Sunday’s encounter.

I expect us to be in with the familiar 4-2-1-3 (4-2-3-1) formation and would like Arsene to start with the following players:

Let's attack with speed and invention with proper wingers, Wilshere and Eisfeld mastering midfield, and Giroud playing the holding striker role.
Let’s attack with speed and invention: with proper wingers, Wilshere and Eisfeld mastering midfield, and Giroud playing the ‘holding striker’ role, whilst benefiting himself from proper wing-service.

How would like Arsenal to line-up for tomorrow’s friendly?

Enjoy the game fine fellow Gooners! 🙂

Written by: TotalArsenal.

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