Arsenal Draw – but what conclusions?

July 31, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

Back at the Home of Football to the traditional start of footballing season entertainment known as the Emirates Cup.

This is normally a fun filled affair where we take on a couple of fair to middling teams put some skilful moves together introduce a few youngsters and send the punters home happy.

I disregarded TotalArsenals advice yesterday and watched on ESPN with the volume up, like a scab I couldn’t stop picking, and before long the inanity of Champion’s and Burley’s mutterings were winding me up more than they should for a game with nothing riding on it.

Apparently Van Persie doesn’t like attacking the near post. Cue Robin stage centre attacking the goal and getting on the end of a lovely counter which started with a Wilshere pass to Gervinho who drove forward and provided a great cross for Robin to do what he does best. 1-0 Arsenal and alls well with the world again.

We started the match rather disjointed and seemed to be a little leggy.

There were occasional glimpses of why Jenkinson and Gervinho have been brought in, however Nasri went a long way to justify not giving a pay rise with an anonymous performance in the advanced midfield role.

There should have been a penalty in the first five minutes when Wilshere was clearly fouled but Atkinson did what English refs do and assumed Jack must of been summer holidaying with Tom Daley and waved away the appeals. Oh well I guess it’s the refs preseason too.

Boca were professional, they set about disrupting our rhythm by fouling wherever they could as is the prescribed tactic against us. Jack was most often on the receiving end.

The high line played by our defence with no pressure on the ball led to a couple of opportunities for Boca but we reached half time unscathed.

The second half brought a number of changes, Robin, Jack, Fabianski, Gervinho and Kozzer making way for Chamakh, Ramsey, Vela, Squillacci and Mannone.

Within a minute of the restart Vela had jinked his way past a couple and the ball rolled to Ramsey who struck a good drive into the net, 2-0 cue feelings of happy days to come. I liked this goal because again it proved to me that faced with a likely impact Ramsey is not suffering the same mental frailty that understandably reduced Eduardo’s goalscoring knack.

After that the Arsenal performance slowly petered out, a lack of balance to the side, Chamakh drifting on to the left wing when he should be occupying the 18 yard box.

Frimpong started getting overrun in midfield and leaving our defence exposed. I thought he had a reasonable game but he seemed to lose energy in the second half, although he wasn’t exactly helped by teammates. The defensive midfield role at Arsenal really is a thankless task.

And then the familiar site of Squilacci behaving randomly for a Centre Back  he had already steam rollered Jenkinson in a fashion not seen since he headbutted Kozzer last season and then got caught in possession Boca didn’t need inviting twice and duly got a goal back.

Not long after and it was Djourous turn to gift one, first to the ball but under pressure he inexplicably missed the ball with his sliding clearance and the eager Boca player chasing him picked up the ball and equalised.

From then on Champion and Burley had a field day as they set about telling us all how regular an occurrence this all is at the Arsenal. Some of the support appears to agree having had a quick look on Twitter. As always the wins in our other preseason games have been forgotten and everyone wants to concentrate on this draw and the way it happened.

Okay so what did we learn?

  1. Jenkinson and Gervinho are good acquisitions.
  2. We really do need one more Centre Back to complete the squad. Maybe we will get to see him today if its Bartley.
  3.  Mannone is third choice.
  4. Robin and Jack are looking to continue where they left off as is Kozzer.
  5. Traore may be the answer at left back I thought he had a reasonable game.
  6. Nasri can’t play the advanced midfield role, or can’t play it like Cesc, his propensity to want to dribble rather than pass is one of the things that slows our progress up the pitch.
  7. Our new defending set piece approach is zonal marking, a system employed by Adams, Keown et al. For this to work we need at least four players over 6ft (five players best in my opinion) to patrol the key areas. I think it can work I would just like to see us take it a yard further out for a starting position.

Hopefully we will get more of an idea in the first half against Red Bulls as to what our likely starting lineup against Newcastle in two weeks will be. I doubt Nasri, Frimpong, Traore or Jenkinson will feature having played 90 minutes yesterday.

I’d also like to see Bartley and Afobe get a run out to give us all a positive vibe about the squad this coming season.
Enjoy the game AA’ers who are making the pilgrimage have a Peroni for me.