Sunday, 16 September 2012

Boo-boys target Walcott -Szczesny lets us down -I love Lukas Podolski

Morning Gooners.

Our second home game of the season and it was good to see the team pick up where they left off at Anfield. It was an fantastic team performance. The first half we were outstanding but unfortunately let those standards slip for a period in the second half. Overall I'm very positive about the season so far, but I'm not getting carried away with it all just yet. We've got a massive six games ahead of us before the next international break and I think by then we'll know how our season is going.

This isn't a match report. We've all seen the game. So I'm just going to chuck a few thoughts out there...

That's how we used to start games
It was good to see us start on the front foot. Our movement is more forward in my mind than sideways it seems this season. We gave Southampton quite a bit of time on the ball but to me we always seemed to be in control of the game. And ideally we shouldn't be playing on the counter attack at home but if that's the way you can break down the opposition, that's the way we'll adapt our game.

Kieran Gibbs is meant to be a defender...
And Andre Santo was supposed to be the better attacking left back of the two, but it doesn't seem that Gibbs got that memo. His two cross/shots caused the own goals and he's getting himself in the right positions to cause damage to the opposition. Our left hand side hasn't look this strong in years and it's a credit to Gibbs and Podolski that we've now we've got a genuine alternative to playing it through the middle or down the right.

Four goals before half time, I could get used to this...
It was nice to get ourselves in a position for the game to be won before the half time break. Podolski's free kick was a cracker and I knew from the way he set himself up that he'd score.

Szczesny needs to pull his socks up
That kind of mistake from an Arsenal goalkeeper isn't acceptable at any level of the game, but especially in the league and against a team we should have kept a clean sheet against. I said before the match I'd have preferred the manager to have stuck with Vito Mannone. I understand why he recalled Szczesny -  he is our first choice keeper and had done little, if anything, wrong against Sunderland. But yesterday his distribution was poor again - something which needs more work. And he lost his concentration when going for that cross which meant we conceded. David Seaman / Jens Lehmann would have taken the defender out if it meant he'd have got hold of the ball. Szczesny needs to be fearless as well. It just feels to me that the Pole's development has stalled and he's become complacent.

That said, it wasn't the end of the world to concede
I was talking to my mate about the clean sheet issue at the time when Southampton scored. I was saying that it wouldn't be a bad thing if we conceded a goal today in order for the no goals conceded thing to become an issue. It may act as a reminder to the team that they can't become complacent. And against the two teams we've got coming up in the league next, we can't afford to take our eye off the ball.

Young players need time
I say that because there were the usual Emirates Moans and Groans™ when Francis Coquelin miss-placed passes. In total he didn't find a team mate with four passes but unfortunately for him the huffing and gruffing was evident among the crowd. I think as Arsenal fans we are often spoilt with the football we get to watch - some of the one touch stuff was excellent yesterday and reminded me of days gone by at Highbury - but with the youngest team in the league, we've got to allow for young players not meeting our own high expectations of them.

Podolski is clearly loving life at Arsenal
The first goal was all about the German's determination. Had he not fought for the ball in midfield with several Southampton players around him, we'd have not been in with a chance of scoring. His free kick was a peach and his work rate was exceptional. He certainly deserved the standing ovation he got when he was substituted. I love how he is with the fans as well. I think he really gets us. Clapping when we sing his name. Celebrating with us when he scores. He was my man of the match yesterday and is fast becoming my favourite player.

Gervinho as a central striker.. who would have thought of that?
Only Arsene Wenger of course. But some would say he wasn't playing as our out and out striker like we've seen the greedy badger do. At times we were playing a 4-6-0, others a 4-4-2 and then there was a 4-4-1-1. But Gervinho proved he can find the back of the net and the experiment certainly worked. His finish for his first goal was superb and he was there in the right place for the second when Ramsey's shot came back off the post. A good afternoon's work for the Ivorian.

The goodwill afforded to Olivier Giroud
Everyone in the stadium wanted him to get his name on the scoresheet yesterday. The North Bank was attempting to suck any goal bound effort he had into the back of the net. I really don't think there is any pressure on him to score from the crowd. It would be nice obviously but when the rest of the team are chipping in with goals it's not a necessary that he needs to score.

The boo-boys targeting Theo... why?
So when Arsene Wenger decided to make an attacking change, Gervinho was hooked off for Theo. As he ran on to the pitch there were boos from a vocal minority of the crowd. The question I have is why? So he's not signed a new contract... well that's up to him. Arsene Wenger doesn't seem to be too worried that Theo isn't committed to our cause so let's not get on his back. There wasn''t any booing when he scored though. Football fans fickle? Never.

Arteta is oiling our engine
It's a joy to watch him play and my only fear is how successful we'll be if he gets injured for any period of time this season. I love the fact he's vocal, bossy and makes us tick. You wouldn't notice that Alex Song isn't in our team any more because the Spaniard is a far more disciplined player who is happy to patrol across the midfield and protect the back four. He's also pulling the strings and making us play the way we do. A joy to watch each week.

Eleven players? Weren't we supposed to be a one man team...
So we had the good fortune of two own goals, but yesterday's result was a team effort. The greedy badger is wearing a different red these days but I can't say we're missing him at this point in time. As long as we're scoring goals, there will be no talk of that man. We've had three good results so far - the only slight disappointment for me was Sunderland but I can't take that - and hopefully that has laid a foundation we can build on.

Let's not get carried away with ourselves
While a 6-1 win was fantastic for all concerned, lets be honest here and admit we should be beating teams like Southampton every time we play them. The season has gone well so far. We've played exactly the same teams as Manchester City, have the same points total as them but have a better goal difference to them because of our tight defence. But there are two very tough games ahead in the league. I wouldn't want to get carried away on the back of four games but signs are certainly positive. Let's fully evaluate things after ten games.

And I've yet to mention Santi!
The Spaniard is a dream to watch. He created five chances yesterday and we didn't score from one of them... wasteful Arsenal! But again we saw what he can do in the final third, picking apart defences and finding a team mate with a deft pass. I think the games against Manchester City and Chelsea is where we're going to see the best of him.

That's it for today. More tomorrow.

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