So, keep it calm. Keep it calm. It’s just preseason. But is it? Yes, it’s just preseasonx.
BUT WE BEAT CHELSEA
That we did. Preseason or not, yesterday was a competitive game in my eyes. It was the season opener. You have to win something (generally speaking) to enter the competition. It’s been going for years. And we won.
MOST DECORATED COMMUNITY SHIELD TEAM EVER <- Scraping the barrel a bit there. But hey, winning is good, all days.
Jose Mourinho didn’t line up yesterday with anything other than a win in mind. Arsene Wenger the same. For us, there was more at stake than becoming the most decorated Community Shield Winners. Yesterday was about breaking a 14 game duck that had coursed an outrageous 11 years.
I’m just going to talk through my main excitement points, James will weigh in with the detail yesterday.
TACTICS: Oh god bless those little details. Arsene Wenger set up another masterclass that evolved as the game went on. Firstly, he tried to capitalise on the lack of pace Chelsea have at the back by opting for Theo through the middle. He also switched up to a more defensive formation in the second half as we stifled the game and reduced Chelsea to a meagre two shots on target. We nullified Chelsea. They looked flat and out of ideas. We worked hard, we played smart and that paid off with a very solid defensive display.
Cech: You can’t tell me there’s been a smarter buy in the league this summer. This is the greatest Premier League keeper of all time. He’s bruised, hungry and keen to show Jose he made a mistake. He offered up a dominant performance. He led and marshalled the back 5. He made a brilliant save from an Oscar freekick (one I’ve no doubt Ospina / Chezzer would have let in). He also dominated his penalty box like an absolute beast. Most importantly, he gave the defence confidence. They liked playing with him. You could see that (3 trophies in 3 attempts).
Back 4: I think we’re the first team to stop Chelsea scoring at the new Wembley. The back four didn’t just luck out yesterday, they delivered what has become a mainstay of Arsenal in 2015. We’re just fucking good at defence these days. This was always my point about the other keepers, our back for were making them look way better than they were! Nacho Monreal has come into his own. Bellerin looks supremely assured for one so young and as me and my pal were discussing, is there a better centre back in the league than Koscielny? To my mind, no! Also, you gotta love Per as well… I’m sure Cech mouthed to him… ‘I told you we’d win’, after the game.
Mourinho: I’ve gotta say, there’s nothing sweeter than the taste of sour grapes Jose sent our way after the game.
‘Arsenal left their football philosophy in the changing room’
Yes Jose, but we brought our brains out for the game and introduced the a sharp dose of pragmatism to our game.
What a moment. That comment is basically Jose saying,
‘HOW DARE YOU PREPARE. THIS IS NEW AND I HATE IT’
Well Jose, we all love it.
Theo: Real mixed bag here. He was a pain in the backside in the opening 30 minutes, then he went missing badly. Giroud came on and blew a half chance from 8 yards which showcased why he’s not quite up there as an elite player. Theo causes tactical issues. He pulls defences all over the place and he can pounce and kill you off one slip. Teams fear him. Giroud is a very good player, he’s physical and aggressive and he opens up the rest of the team. Both will score goals, both give us a very different look and feel. Both aren’t quite there as the #1.
I think that episode really highlighted that we need a new striker. Karim Benzema would make us complete.
Chamberlain: I love him. He’s possibly my favourite Arsenal player. Enthusiastic, powerfully built, fast, unpredictable with that little bit of magic Arsenal players like Merson, Dennis, Wrighty and Pires all had.
What a goal. Zero backlift. Unstoppable!
I think he’s going to be electric this season. It’s just so damn important we keep him fit, something we’ve not managed since we’ve had him at the club.
Wenger: The man knows his time is up soon. You feel he’s found something since that horrible start to last season. He’s thriving on the mini victories. He seems to be reinvigorated by having a team around him that’s modern and forward thinking. The players seem to have clicked as well. The manager could achieve true greatness this season. He just needs to keep following the plan and stay patient.
I feel we’re one striker away from being nailed on, but for me, even without signings, we’ll be contending the league this year. My major concern outside the striker is Arteta still being in the mix. He’s looked slow and off the pace for a while now, he looked the same yesterday. That could be problem if Coquelin picks up a bad injury. I’d say defensive midfield is the one area of the pitch we can’t afford an injury. He’s been incredibly important to our set up and last season wasn’t a fluke, he’s just that good. Unless Wenger is thinking about Jack in that role, which we know he isn’t, then we’re desperately short there (and Jack is injured once again, so he’s hardly reliable anyway).
I have this amazing feeling that this season is going to be something special. The first time in about 12 years I’ve genuinely felt we can contend the league title.
Yesterday was massive for us. Lap it up. Enjoy it. Buckle up for the rollercoaster that is the Premier League.