Very late to the report today because I’ve been traveling to St. Louis where the weather is a steady grey.
What to make of that game yesterday?
It wasn’t exactly creatively explosive, but there are a few things that might have led to that. Their narrow set deep set up was a struggle to break down. We didn’t create much and we nearly dropped the ball on a day City did…
It wasn’t just a bad day at the office. You have to look at our rather intensive schedule, baked against the back drop of Arsene basically picking the same team every week. Certain players looked heavy legged out there. Wenger needs to start thinking about rotating in additional bodies, rather than go the route he normally does, which is to play players until they are ineffective, or play them until they breakdown with a 3-month hamstring issue. We’ve already lost Ramsey for an extended period of time when we didn’t need to and you can’t help but think there will be others that’ll head down that well-trodden path… Santi Cazorla is being given all the games… and fans will say he’s been integral, and I’d agree, but I’d like him to be integral all season, not just the first three months.
Good news is, we took three points, even if it was in controversial circumstances. That tees us up very nicely for the next run of games which are basically the lead into Arsenal / Spurs… a ‘near’ top of the table clash last season, based upon the form of both teams, it could be a similar story this season.
Arsenal have momentum, if we can avoid injuries, use some of the easier games to bring in peripheral players to motivate and get some game time into their legs, rest some of our star performers so they’re fighting fit for December, we could be a very good position heading into a bit of a nightmare period post the next international break.
At the second international break of the year, we’ve learnt a few things. Pep G is not immortal. He lost his first team against a Spurs team that hustled his players hard. We’ve learned that we can beat the big teams, taking down Chelsea was a big moment for our campaign, particularly as we did it with such style and panache. We know now that Liverpool might be a little more interesting than first expected. No Champions League is massive for Klopp because he has a small squad he can focus on one game a week. Spurs have added well this summer, so the additional depth might see them last the course without dying… but the Champions League affect might counter that. Leicester are not going to contend this year, but Everton might be a problem, though very doubtful.
So, another season with an atrocious start, followed by a massive winning streak. We’ve been here before. Has Wenger assessed where it went wrong last year? Is a more mobile front line a good solve? Hopefully. Will a deeper squad help? Definitely. Can we deal with key players dropping out of our starting line up. TBC.
It feels different this year, but I’ve said that so many times over the last 6 years. So I’m not getting too excited just yet. But at least we’re very watchable this year and at least it feels fresh.
Bring on the end of this international week. Gareth Southgate managing the national team… the uninspiring appointment since Stuart Houston took over from George Graham.
Right, just landed… off to eat a steak bigger than Wayne Rooney’s head. Good times.