Cologne fans put on a pretty spectacular showing yesterday. Turns out those Germans are quite cunning. Turning up in Islington, singing their songs, invading our ground, BUYING OUR CORPORATE SEATS.
Very amusing. I love that there were genuine concerns about German folk infiltrating the home end like it was going to be an issue. Please, the only time there’s an issue at Highbury is if the half time bar is out of Cabernet.
Once the flares had settled down, we could get onto the football… and guess what? It wasn’t great.
The second string had a debrief from the first team and replicated all the same misgivings. Elneney and Iwobi did not make for a scintillating partnership, leaving massive gaps and a real lack of presence even when compared to our usual midfield of Ramsey and Xhaka.
It wasn’t the midfield that cost us the opening goal. It was our hapless understudy keeper, David Ospina, who hashed a clearance. The ball found a heavy touch from a Koln player, the Colombian Drogba picked it up with his back to goal, he turned and hooked the ball over Ospina. 1 down at home. Appalling error from a keeper we’ve known is shite for 3 years.
You sensed that although we were really off our game, our quality would shine through, and in the second half it did. Wenger once again gave up on a formation he’s failed to properly grasp. He killed 3 at the back and switched up to a 4-4-2. He also cashed in some gold coins and selected BEAST mode, bringing on Kolasinac for the pedestrian Holding.
Our first goal came from some clumsy footwork. Theo Walcott picked up a delightful chipped pass over the Cologne defense from Elneney, he dropped a heavy pass back into the box that ricocheted up for a Cologne defender, Kolasinac watched it down and RIPPED it at the back post, scoring another goal, whilst simultaneously banishing the faintest of Chamberlain memories.
We also saw the introduction of Jack Wilshere. It was good to see him back. He made some nice passes, performed functionally, and received rave reviews from English fans.
GO ON JACK BE THE BARCA KID WE MISS SO BAD
Alexis looked both disinterested and and fired up. The man is torn. His primal instinct is to play like a kid in a field. A selfish kid. But a really talented one. He went on a sexy meandering run from out left, cut in right, cut in again, and curled a peach into the top corner. So Alexis… You could call it selfish, or you could call it the most statistically likely way of scoring a goal.
The night was capped off when Bellerin was quickest to a loose ball in the box, he slid in to finish off a solid opening win in the BEST European competition EVER.
So what to think?
We rested a lot of players, so it was worrying that our problems seem the same whoever the personnel is. No leadership, a lack of motivation, and a complete misunderstanding of what they’re supposed to be doing. We looked a mess against a team that hasn’t landed a point in the Bundesliga this season. That’s pretty embarrassing when you consider our resources compared to theirs.
Another worry is we gave up on our formation. You can call that smart tactics. You can say that’s what we needed. And I’d agree. However, the worry is Wenger isn’t confident in a formation he’s been rocking for 15 or so games. This is a game of fine margins, if the coach is worried, what are the players thinking? Wenger has what, 2 training sessions to think through what Sunday is going to look like. My fear is he’s slowly realising that last seasons run of ten games was a total illusion of progress.
My final concern is that we’re playing the Champions on Sunday. We’re more of a bogey team for Conte than any other team, but I do have a serious worry that we’re going to be taken down hard. Hazard is back, Chelsea are finding their mojo, and we’re still a big fat mess that’s struggling to catch a break.
But we’ll see. Nice to land a win. Shame it was such a peculiar night.