I worked right up until the wire yesterday, so when I rolled into the pub, I missed the team sheet, but I could see that many of my favourite players were in the starting line up. The big change was that Sanchez was played through the middle. We started with Chamberlain on the right, the midfield was Flamini, Jack and Ramsey… and here’s the weird one I didn’t pick up on.
Ozil on the left.
Honestly, what the f**k is that all about?
One of the best number 10s on the planet, stuck out on the left in an Everton game that required tracking and discipline. Not only that, he’s had, what? 12 days training? So he’s not going to be fit. I mean, even when he’s fit he’s not fit. So to throw him into a line up massively unfit was suicide from the off.
The game didn’t really kick off with the zip I was hoping for. We didn’t go a goal down straight away which felt like progress on away trips to good sides on last year. Same old same old though, we’d not come armed with a vision of how we’d take down Everton. There was clearly no plan going on that I could decipher. We lacked any sort of edge and the players looked dead, which really is a sorry situation barely a few games into the new season.
The first goal we conceded came from a Gareth Barry cross which saw Coleman slip in unmarked at the back post for the headed goal. Ozil was nowhere to be seen as he lost his marker. A really sloppy goal to concede so early on.
The second goal we conceded was a mixture of defensive naivety on Chambers part combined with some poor refereeing, one for the trip on Mertesacker in the build up, two for the goal being marginally offside. But whatever, Lukaku had put Naismith in on goal and the Scot finished well.
Second half we changed things up. Wenger took off Sanchez at half time to bring on Giroud. If he was injured, fair enough, but if he wasn’t, what the manager is doing shit canning his best player after 45mins is beyond me. He could have put him out wide in place of Ozil who was stinking out the place in a massive way.
Anyway, Giroud came on and he was actually the difference against and Everton side who really weren’t that impressive. The Frenchman immediately volleyed over from a tight angle. What he did was link up the play nicely.
We managed to get on the score sheet when Cazorla entered the game. He bundled a cross into the six yard area and Ramsey tapped home after getting between two players. Then at the death, Giroud nodded home, forcing himself past Distin in the 90th minute.
We took the point, but don’t kid yourselves, that was an excercise in plastering over the bulging cracks in the Arsenal offering this season.
The players looked dead on their feet. Sure we played a game in midweek, but where was the zip in our game? Where’s the pace? The spark? The ingenuity? It’s really worrying that players don’t look at the races so early one. It’s also worrying the pace at which we’re racking up injuries.
Really couldn’t see what the vision was out there yesterday. We appear to have exactly the same approach to the game we had last year. Go out there, have some fun and see if you can win a few games. The players looked clueless for large parts, just like they did last year. How much preparation is going into these games? Because from where I’m watching, I’m yet to see anything interesting or surprising.
Round Pegs, square holes…
Here’s where things really didn’t make sense to me. Wenger opted to take Ozil, the unfittest player in elite football… train him for 12 days… then stick him out on the left against a team that has a history of destroying us down the wings. We needed someone in that role who was fit, had done a full preseason, that would have an interest in playing the position. Ozil was partially at fault for one goal, fully for the second. Why wasn’t Thomas Rosicky a consideration for that role? He’s played a full preseason from what I’ve seen. Why wasn’t Joel Campbell on the team sheet? He’s full of energy and desire to impress. Ozil doesn’t look interested. He needs to pick himself up this season, that intro certainly didn’t impress me.
We’re short squad wise again. We don’t have a world class striker, we don’t have an experienced third choice centre back and we’re unbelievably desperate for an energetic midfielder who can sit in front of that back four and distribute at pace. Our transfer planning seemed like it had some legs this year, but now the season has started, some massive areas are yet to be addressed. We still have time to close a deal or two, but the sad part is there’s no plan in place. It’ll be all about opportunism. It’s rank average that we can’t get our squad recruitment sorted early doors. It’s unbelievable that we’ll be heading into Besiktas with no senior striker to speak of (Giroud picked up an ankle knock).
Form so far…
Excluding the Man City game, you have to say that it’s been a pretty rough ride so far this season. We were poor in preseason and we’ve translated that into a poor opening three competitive games. It’s not even about players, it’s about how they’re prepared, how they’re set up and how they’re operating.
We’ll get back to winning games, we’ll potter around the top for a bit, everyone will get overly excited about our prospects, but when it comes down to the crunch, the old leopard hasn’t changed his spots and that’ll be our downfall at the highest level.
… and that’s the point, Wenger never fails quite hard enough to invoke a real change. So that’s where we are as a club. Get used to it. It’s going to be a long, groundhog like season. Again.