Daily Archives: July 15, 2013
Finally, football has taken center stage following a summer filled up with endless transfer speculation.
With no new signing joining the Gunners to the Asia Tour, Arsene Wenger was afforded with a chance to try out a couple of youngsters as well as giving his senior players a run-out in Jakarta.
Lukasz Fabianski played for 90 minutes with Wojciech Szczesny having a nice day out in the dugout. With Thomas Vermaelen out injured and Johan Djourou out on loan, Arsenal took only three recognized center backs in the forms of Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Ignasi Miquel. The Gunners began the game with the last two names on the aforementioned list but Kos the Boss came in for the second 45 minutes. The British duo of Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson manned the flanks.
In midfield, Arsene Wenger continued with the impressive Aaron Ramsey – Mikel Arteta double pivote that was very instrumental in the run-in for fourth place last season but there was another rear stint for the Ox in the middle. Wenger still harbors hope of playing the young lad through the middle of the park and we might see the Ox strut his stuff in this position this season.
In attack, Theo Walcott and birthday boy, Serge Gnabry, provided support to last season’s NextGen series starlet, Chuba Akpom.
The Gunners appeared in their delightful yellow away kits (order yours at Arsenal Direct) using Arsene Wenger’s trademark 4-2-3-1 formation and we expected the floodgates to open right from the onset, but we had to wait till the 19th minute to see the game’s opening goal. The Ox launched a slalom run with the ball before waiting for his teammates to arrive. With Walcott lurking, the Ox teed up the forward that dispatched his effort past Kurnia Meiga in goal.
With the scoreline remaining intact till halftime, the Gunners wasted no time in bringing on some reinforcements. The next Arsenal goal had NextGen written all over it as Chuks Aneke waltzed forward on the left hand side before teeing up an unmarked Akpom that finished aplomb.
With Akpom departing the scene for Olivier Giroud, the Frenchman wasted no time in throwing down the gauntlet for the season ahead with two quick fire goals of real quality. The first was a lovely flick after receiving a pass from his compatriot, Bacary Sagna (that replaced Jenkinson) while the second was a powerful effort that smashed the top corner.
Tomas Rosicky joined the party and stamped his authority with a curling low drive that was parried by the goalie. Shortly afterwards, the Czech maestro teed up an onrushing Lukas Podolski that blasted his effort past the hapless Indonesian goalie to make it five. Late goals from Kristoffer Olsson and Tomas Eisfeld completed the rout.
With the Gunners beginning their preseason campaign on a high, a few thoughts went through my head that are worth sharing.
In the first half, the weak link in the defense was undoubtedly Miquel, and one must wonder if he really has what it takes to be an adequate back up when the need arises. Vermaelen’s recent injury woes has seen the young Spaniard rise to become Arsenal’s third choice defender and the club is one center back injury away from giving Miquel a shot in the spotlight.
While I certainly won’t support Arsenal blowing up 10 million pounds for a player like Swansea’s Ashley Williams to become the club’s fourth-choice defender (yes, he’s not better than PM4, LK6 and TV5), Arsene Wenger must find a way to address his central defensive personnel issue. If he regards Miquel as the next best thing, so be it.
In midfield, I was very impressed with what I saw even though Mikel Arteta looked a bit rusty. Aaron Ramsey was a star attraction and I was hugely impressed when he had his Zinedine Zidane moment of brilliance…
Tomas Rosicky bellied his years yet again to show his class while young Tomas Eisfeld put up an impressive shift. In regard to the Ox experiment through the middle, I’d say that it was a nice move as the Englishman’s pace was a constant thorn in the flesh of the opposition. He even created the first assist of the game.
Finally to the attack.
Despite the fact that Arsenal has been increasingly linked to strikers like Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Wayne Rooney, the current attacking lot at the squad made their marks on the field of play with Walcott, Akpom, Giroud and Podolski all getting in the score sheet.
I know that Arsenal fans (me included) have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of transfer activity despite the media speculation but at this point in time we have to make do with what we have, till the Arsenal hierarchy proves otherwise with that signing we all crave.
Next stop, Vietnam.
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