So after what proved to be a slightly dull and drab first game of the Emirates Cup… most were hoping for an exciting, slightly more ambitious finish. You know, the type of performance that would get us all singing the praises of the team… backing the club for global domination this season.
Did Arsene deliver? Oh yes he did. He put out what can only be described as an eclectic combination of attacking style, mixed with some more attacking flair mixed with… er… lots of attacking stuff.
Bar Silvestre at the back, I had no real complaints. As much as I don’t favour Eboue in right midfield… I can stomach him at right back. Song surely had to do better than the dire Denilson… and the additions of Cesc, Wilshere, Arshavin and Eduardo to the starting line up were more than enough to get my pre-season juices flowing… oh… and Wenger cheekily threw the unknown… yet exciting Fran Merida into the starting 11. Fran is a bit enigma… we all saw his Barca youth vids… got hugely excited, but never really saw enough of him to start calling for him name… it would be good to see what he could do today.
Eboue Gallas Silvestre Clichy
Wilshere Merida Arshavin
So the game kicked off like most do, two centre forwards passing to one another… Rangers came at us but we absorbed their early pressure. Arshavin picked up play, passed the a ball into Jack who dummied, Cesc gathered the ball, turned… dinked it through 3 Rangers players to Arshavin who flicked it back to Wilshere… who buried it low into the right hand corner. A superb bit of build up play from the boys… and a clinical finish to boot from Mr Wilshere. 1-0 up before the second minute… good times in the Emirates.
Arsenal continued to toy with Rangers for the next ten minutes… Silvestre even tried to latch onto a through ball… then Cesc picked up the ball from deep within our half, fired the type of 40 yard Hollywood ball Denilson was having a go at yesterday, Arshavin padded the header backwards into the path of the oncoming Merida who angled a peach diagonal ball into Eduardo who found himself one on one… there was only going to be one winner… Eduardo buried the ball low and hard in off the far post. What a superb goal.
May I once again tell everyone that we do not need a new striker… especially one as limited as Huntelaar. Oh, and stop talking about Eduardo getting injured… any of our players could get injured this season, it doesn’t mean we need to sign a £20million back up in case. Chamakh is supposedly on the cards, but he’s not coming into the first team… and remember, we have an in form Vela to return. At the end of the day, you wouldn’t expect Oxfam to spend your £2 a month pitching up a well in Islington… so don’t expect Wenger to splash his oh so precious cash bolstering the most over subscribed position in the team.
On 25 minutes Eboue played a hopless ball down the line to Songs imaginery friend… the amusing things was Jack turned back and bollocked him. Loved it. Mind you… I thought Eboue was having a storming game in his favoured position.
Minutes later, my new great white hope, Fran Merida spanked a 30 yard rasper. He is an impressive performer… he looks well built, he is tidy and has an eye for an extravagent pass… he plays like a more mobile Cesc.
It was interesting to see Senderos on the sidelines again… maybe he hasn’t made enough friends at Everton to hang out with them on a Sunday? Or perhaps he hasn’t moved to Everton at all? Who knows…
At this point, I think it is key to mention that Song was having a good game. He wasn’t wasting passes, he was positioning himself well and he was trying hard.
Our problem from corners reared it’s ugly, season on season, repetitive, ugly, season on season ugly face again. A tame corner was fired in pretty low… Almunia made a hash by slapping it away 6 yards and Rangers nearly found themselves back in the game.
It’s really disappointing that we can’t buy a player who is capable of sorting out the defence… or a coach that will allot even 2 minutes of time to defending set pieces. I keep reading people telling me that Hangeland is not better than Senderos… well… number one, that tells me you’ve never seen him play… number two, you’ve forgotten how bad Phil Senderos was… number three… that you haven’t watched Fulhams rise from relegation fodder, to Europa cup entrants in the space of the 18 months he’s been there.
Put that in your ‘Big Phil is great’ pipe and smoke it.
It amazes me how anti-any-player-who-isn’t-a-brand-name we are. Huntelaar has a great record in the Dutch league who have produced such goal scoring greats as Dirk Kuyt, Mateja Kezman and Alfonso Alves… Yet Chamakh, who Makelele reckons is the best striker in French football, who Blanc insists wont let him go to a rubbish club… is binned off as useless despite helping his club wrestle the French Championship from Lyons grasp for the first time in forever (7 seasons to be precise). Give me a striker out of France any day of the week… they produce far better quality.
There were a couple more exciting moments before the half finished, the first was watching Jack jink past two Rangers defenders and attempt an outrageous chip from 20 yards that nearly beat the keeper. A couple of minutes later, Eboue attempted a first time shot from the edge of the box and he shanked it 60 yards the wrong way… I liked it because Eboue laughed about it when he ran back… that lad has a good sense of humour… I wish he read Le Grove… oh wait… he does!
The final bit of magic came when Arshavin played a first touch pass with an outside of the boot flick into the path of Eddie… sublime.
The second half began with some changes. Denilson and traore replaced Gallas and Clichy
Arsenal started to look more suspect… it didn’t have anything to do with Denilson in the middle if the park, and Song looked absolutely world class in at Centre back. I honestly hope Vermaelen and Gallas get injured so I can see more of Song at centre back. The way he slid in for a pass he was always going to miss which very nearly led to a Rangers goal filled me with confidence.
Snoop Dog came on late on… looking all raptastic… seriously though, I think he looks classy and bulked… he started the move for the third by chasing a lost cause, cutting it back to Rambo, who picked out Jack at the back post… who cooly buried it. Bravo Jack… player of the tournament!
Almunia: Having a pretty woeful preseason if you ask me. He’s had bugger all to do and I’ve seen him pass to an oppostion striker and slap a cross. It doesn’t look good does it? Must do better this year because Fabianski will be chomping at the bit to get a start… and I think he could be rather good. 6
Eboue: I thought he did much better in at right back… he looks more assured going forward than he does from midfield which is strange. Anyway, he’ll be off soon… 6.5
Gallas: Looked like he pulled up with a hamstring injury… I just love how one defender picks up an injury… they all feel the need… like girls going to the toilet. Wenger needs to go out an make sure we have a suitbable back up purchased because I have little confidence in Song, Silvestre and JD keeping us in the league should Gallas and Vermaelen (<- Who I have to assume is amazing right?). 6
Silvestre: I don’t really have much to say about him… he should be ok as a back up, but invariably he isn’t… he helped us keep a clean sheet today, even with the inexperienced Song next to him.
Clichy: Nice to see our number one left back where he belongs today. One of my favourite players in an Arsenal shirt… I’m looking forward to him returning to form this year and proving he is the best in the business. 7
Song: I thought he had a very good first half. He got in the way, didn’t get out muscled… kept up with play. I guess that’s why he was dropped into centre back in the second half… Wenger couldn’t have someone taking the limelight off love child Denilson. He did a good job as well… Song made a severe hash of a through ball early in the second half and nearly cost us a goal. Against Man United… that’s a goal. Those are the margins we are dealing with… Its amazing that just as Song started to look average… we change his position. 6.5
Cesc: Starting to look like a real man… yeah, those tattoos are scary… the beard even scarier. ‘Big scary Cesc’ they’ll be calling him now Ade and Toure have left. He put in a good performance, playing nice and deep where he thrives. Now he has decent target men, I think we’ll see a happier Spaniard. Looking forward to seeing what he can offer this year! 7
Wilshere: He played a blinder in this tournament last year… then disappeared from the scene for a season. I don’t know whether it’s worth getting excited this year about him? Hopefully we’ll see some more games from him… Madrid and Rangers might not be the best teams in Europe… but they’re no mugs and he made mince meat of them. I think he has the full respect of his peers aswell… I don’t really need to talk about his talent… all I will say is don’t put too much pressure on him. Patience is a virtue with the kids, I am wary how much pressure we put on Theo… Jack is a different kettle of fish because he’s a natural, but lets not expect Messi like contributions from him this year, he is 5 years younger than him. 8.5
Merida: Now here is the surprise package of the preseason. Who’d have thunk it? Captain Quiet… Fran Merida! He is powerful, creative, a good dribbler and prone to the odd shot. Could he be a serious first team contender this year? Could he be the reason why Wenger doesn’t have a problem shifting on Eboue? Well… I hope so! I really like the look of him and I reckon he could be one of the break through players this year. 7.5
Arshavin: The guy is sheer class. He is going to be so important to us this year… he is going to signal the rebirth of Arsenal this season. Well, if he is given the right players to play with. His intelligence on the pitch is fantastic, his audacity is breath taking and I think he is going to give us some magical moments. If he can earn Le Champ inside six months, imagine what he can do in a year? 7.5
Eduardo: He thundered into a challenge early on which told me he is totally over that leg break thing a few years back. He also finished off his first chance with his usual clinical swagger. This is the man that stops us having nightmares about 52 chances, 0 goals. This is the man that boosts Cesc’s assist tally by 10… this is the man who can give our fancy dan football some end product. 7.5
Despite playing a couple of bobby average teams, I’m pretty confident that we don’t need anything attacking wise. I still think we’ll struggle with Song/Denilson in the middle for a whole season. I’d like someone with pace, aggression and aerial ability in the middle… and I still think we need an organiser and a aerial beast in defence. Hopefully at least one of those positions will be addressed this week… because whatever Wenger says… the 18 points we lacked last year wasn’t down to a 5% character problem… it was down to a 20% defensive frailty problem. Paddy V can’t solve that from the touchlines. Attacking players of greatness wont allow us to forget that… right Grovers? Stay strong… don’t be thrown of the scent of what our demise was last year.
Geoff is offline for a bit this week… he’s touring round Spain promoting Le Grove for some outrageous fee… however, his web connection is a bit dodgy, so I’ll be keeping you entertained most of this week!
See you in the comments Grovers!