So my first thoughts were… jeez… Song AND Denilson in the middle? If our players are good enough, why do we need two to do one job? My concern wasn’t with the victory… I was confident of that, my concern was we had to sacrifice a player to accommodate for our lack of strength in the middle.
Arshavin interviewed before and said he didn’t think ‘Youth’ was a good excuse… it was time to step up and show the world what we’re capable of… here’s what happened…
Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy
Denilson Song Fabregas
Van Persie Arshavin
Nik B got the nod over Eduardo, probably due to his height and strength, I was guessing that we were going to play a 4-3-3, even though a 4-5-1 with Song and Denilson holding made more sense.
Well, it turned out we played in a 4-3-3… Song anchored and Denilson and Cesc tried to create and support him. It worked pretty well… everyone mucking in defensively and everyone helping out going forward.
It was a bit of a mixed bag after kick off, neither team really dominating… Arsenal made a few poor passes but also held the ball quite nicely. The first real threat came when Nikki B picked up the ball wide right, tricked the Everton defender with a step over… drove forward… played it into Cesc who cut a quick side pass to the oncoming Denilson who curled it into the top corner. What a goal, what excellent build up play… dare I say Bergkamp would have been proud?
Everton nearly responded from a good corner… Vermaelen was beaten easily to it by Felliani… mind you, he is 6ft 6! It served to highlight that we have problems from set pieces… Hangeland probably would have dealt with it (Hint).
5 minutes later, Robin whipped a freekick into the box from a dead ball and who nipped in at the back post? The Verminator with a superbly angled header back across goal! The goal looked like it had been practiced in training…
A few minutes later, Cesc proved that they HAD been practicing set pieces. He fired an inch perfect cross into the box for Gallas to nod in! 3 chances, 3 goals! What a game so far!
I will say that regardless of the goals, we still looked a little shaky at the back. A ball was fizzed across the box and everyone missed it… It made me feel slightly uncomfortable.
The half finished, Song could be proud of a superb half of man marking against the human microphone… and the boys could be proud of their finishing!
I was expecting a quieter second half… we don’t normally go for the jugular… and with an important game coming up, I thought we might take it easy.
Denilson played RvP down the line, RvP raced wide past his fulle back, laid the ball back… Cesc races onto it Freddie-in-slow-motion-esque and buried it through the keepers legs! I made that 2 nut megs on the way to victory!
Our next goal didn’t take long either, Fab picked the ball up on the half way line, ran 40 yards… jinked inside Yobo and buried it low and hard past the keeper! He ran over to dedicate his goal to the tragic Jarque. What a goal… Moyes was fuming… you would never expect Everton to bend ove in such fashion.
It wasn’t over though, Arshavin fashioned a shot late on that rebounded off the post… allowing Eduardo his first of the season. Adebay-who?
A rout wouldn’t be complete without a conceding a clean sheet… late on Saha scored a good goal to take away our perfect afternoon… oh well… we’ll still be top of the league for a bit!
Arsenal kicked the season off in exceptional style. Our finishing was clinical, our passing was crisp and our marquee players were quiet. The real stars of today were the players I thought had the most to prove.
Bendtner – Vermaelen – Song
All were superb, all deserve the praise they will get in the press. So if those guys can maintain their level this year, imagine what will happen when the others come alive? It could be amazing!
I still feel some perspective is needed (Song is the new Vieira…?). Everton offered nothing today… and I don’t think we were firing on all cylinders. I don’t think we saw vintage Arsenal today… which is certainly a good thing. We played well, but it was one of those days where everything went in…. that’s not a complaint… that is just stating fact. We capitalised on an extremely poor Everton performance. What did please me more than that goals is that we weren’t bullied off the ball, we were rarely beaten in the air… and we had that determination to go for as many goals as possible.
‘Character’ <- That is going to be one of the most important words this season… if we can show it week in week out, we could have a great year.
I did find it amazing how many AKB’s came out of the wood work celebrating that ‘Arsene knows’… how short sighted can you be? We were top of the league until February a couple of years ago and look what happened. Certain sections need to calm down and take it one game at a time… they also need to understand that any victory is a joint victory… we’re all Arsenal fans… we all love the club… we all love winning.
I’m still sticking by my guns… we need a defensive midfielder and a centre back before the window closes… today changes nothing… because the problem isn’t the summer, it’s ten games in when we start picking up injuries to key players. Le Grove have stated all summer that we are two players away from domination… lets hope he buys them.
Enjoy the moment, savor the fact that we’re in fantastic shape going into the Celtic match… and keep the faith that Wenger is going to sign Hangeland plus one… I’ll start to believe in our league campaign if that happens.
01 Almunia: I thought he has a solid game considering how little he had to do. He distributed well, dealt with some tricky crosses admirably and looked calm between the sticks. 7
03 Sagna: The commentators believed our right back was the weak link in the team today. I thought he was ok, his crossing is still a bit dodgy but at least he showed the desire to get up and down that line. 6
10 Gallas: A solid performance and a matching goal. He looks a lot calmer since losing his captaincy and he showed great desire to nod home his goal. Our season hinges on keeping him fit becasue he really is our best defender by a long way. 7.5
22 Clichy: A good performance from our roving left back. He whipped in a few duff crosses mixed with a few good ones. His passing was good and he looked tenacious as ever. 6.5
04 Fabregas: A pretty quiet first half… but he came alive in the second. He bagged two goals and an assist, and he looked very pleased to do so. He looks focused this year and he looks like more of a man in the middle of the park. I’m looking forward to great things from him this year… he is our heartbeat. 8
05 Vermaelen: A top class debut from the Belgian. He looks big, scary and powerful. He dealt well with the aerial onslaught early on and only lost out on one header and that was to the tallest player in the top half of the table. His goal was a real peach and he clearly does read the game well. The jury is still out… I’d like to see him against top class opposition and see how handles real pressure… but all in all… a debut to be proud of. 8
15 Denilson: Started off very poorly misplacing passes like they were going out of fashion. He scored a great goal though… In the second half he upped his game a little… and overall, he did ok. 7
17 Song Billong: My man of the match today. He imposed himself on the middle of the park, making tidy interceptions, reading the game well… he also out musculed anyone who dared challenge and he looked very accomplished on the ball. A top performance… now he’s set the bench mark… the question will be about whether he can maintain it? Wenger keeps threatening to send him back to defence… on todays performance, he might struggle. 9
23 Arshavin: A bit of a nothing game from the Russian which kind of pleased me… 6 goals without our main man being involved. So when he inveitably comes to life, we’ll be a huge threat. 6.5
11 Van Persie: No goals, but two assists and some lovely link up play. I’m always surprised to read articles when people try and convince you that Robin isn’t a team player… can I just reiterate that Robin was top assiter in the league last year… and this season he started off with another two? More goals is what we need Robin. If we can get 20 from you this year, we’ll have a very complete striker on our hands! 7.5
52 Bendtner: The usual moans and groans came when he was spotted on the team sheet… but not from me. Bends played very well, mucking in defensively and sparking to move from the first game. I’m hoping for an Ade like transformation from him this year… and 20 goals. 7.5
Have a great day Grovers…. football is back and I couldn’t be happier!