Sunday, 19 August 2012

Song sold Sahin/M'Vila to join -Walcott's new deal -Cazorla oozes class

Morning Gooners.

We start the season with a draw and life goes on. When you consider that other team got a five goal mauling and Spurs lost at Newcastle, yesterday's result wasn't as bad as it could have been. Who knew London could be that hot. The temperature inside the stadium was unbearable for most fans... imagine what it was like for the players.

Up against a well drilled Sunderland defence, the game was never going to be the walk in the park some people had it down to be.

Starting with a draw wasn't a disaster...
This team has had hardly any game time together in real match conditions. When you consider in defence we had Carl Jenkinson making only his sixth competitive start in the Premier League, Abou Diaby coming back from what might as well be classed as a season out of action, and two new players starting their first game in the Premier League in Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, that's four players who've not properly played together for any length of time. They are going to need time to gel as a unit.

That said, Carl Jenkinson had a good game...
The young defender had a solid game alongside Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs in defence. He made some excellent tackles to win the ball back and got forward to assist in attacks, although not as much as you would expect of an Arsenal right back. I guess in a way that was because he was feeling his way into the game. But I thought he had a decent game.

Per Mertesacker is Mr Cool
The big German might not be in the same league when it comes to being a fan's favourite as Laurent Koscileny or Thomas Vermaelen, but the central defender proved once against yesterday what a calming influence he can be on his colleagues. He was always available for a pass and moved the ball along with accuracy. If he and Vermaelen can work with Cazorla on the corners, they could be the new Bould, Adams and Marwood combination.

Abou Diaby - this could be his season...
I know everyone seems to be going on about this being Diaby's year (if he stays injury free) but should he be able to put a run of games together then he'll be a huge asset to this team. I'm sure he'll improve over time but one of my main criticisms of him is that he slows the game down too much. When you've got quick forward players in front of you, you can't be dwelling on the ball in midfield which I noticed he was doing yesterday. He's also got to take the initiative, when space opens up in front of him he should be the one who attacks it not waiting for a team mate to run into it.

Santi Cazorla - who is not purring over his performance?
The Spaniard might be small - he doesn't reach the top of the corner flag - but boy is he a player. Calm under pressure, he never once lost his vision in his first Premier League start. His passes were to feet, he moved the ball well and if he lost it he chased to win it back. He's not even afraid to take a shot and - dare I say it - from outside the box. I think in many ways his play is what we missed without Cesc Fabregas last season. Once he builds an understanding with those around him, then we'll see his true potential. But after one game I think we're all already excited.

Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud will shine...
Both strikers got minutes on the pitch and there performances mirrored one another. Hard working, moving the ball well and little opportunities to score, although the Frenchman should have at least put his shot on target when he had Arsenal's best chance of the game. Some more hard work in training and I'm sure they'll come good. Both look like quality signings.

Gibbs and Gervinho look a force...
I thought our left handside of attack had a better game than our right - maybe that was down to Carl Jenkinson's reluctance to get forward. But I thought that Kieran Gibbs and Gervinho had forged a decent partnership on the left. The Ivorian has brought his good pre-season form into his first game - if only he could find some shooting boots. While Gibbs must now be Arsenal's first choice left back. This is a partnership I'm looking forward to seeing develop throughout the season.

Selling Alex Song isn't a huge loss to Arsenal Football Club...
The Cameroon international's departure isn't a bad thing for Arsenal. While the timing could have been better - eight minutes after the final whistle the Barcelona deal was announced - his leaving the club is not. Personally I've never been a huge fan of his. He's made huge strides under Arsene Wenger but can he be improved on? Yes, he can. His role in the team was not to provide the creative spark which we saw so much of last season, but to patrol the space in front of the back four and protect our defence. That was his prime role in the team. And when he's not disciplined enough to do that, well what use is he to the team?
His attitude stank - there is no I in team - and I'm quite happy to see the back of him.

The manager must now reinvest the van P€r$i€ and Song cash...
It's clear we've got the money to make the squad stronger this summer. The signings of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla have shown the club doesn't have to spend the eye-watering fees which are spent by our closest rivals. But Wenger does need to add additional quality to the squad. I don't think we need another striker but I do think we need to replace Song. Nuri Sahin is the current flavour of the month. While Yann M'Vila has been scouted by the club.

And Theo Walcott must be tied down to a new deal...
Despite being one of his biggest critics, it's now time for the club to pull out the stops and sign Theo to a new deal. It is clear that he's made significants steps in the past 18 months to be offered a better deal than he is currently on. If that means making him one of our highest paid players, then I believe the club should do it. He offers us something which no other player does and it was clear against Sunderland when they had three men trying to tackle him that he's a player other teams fear. Sign him up Arsene!

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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