We were treated a spectacle of a game to open the new season. In what was true Arsenal fashion, there was a scintillating attacking display and some shambolic defending. Here are 5 things that we learnt from the team’s display against Leicester:
- The attack is formidable
We have always known that the Arsenal attack can be formidable when they are song but it seems that with the new formation, a new fond fluidity has come in through the team. In this day and age in football where forwards are expected to be able to play across the whole frontline, this allows the front 3 to move into interchangeable places without the trouble of being uncomfortable in the position they find themselves in. With Ozil pulling the strings behind them and the attacking threat from the wingbacks, you can expect Arsenal to be banging in the goals this season.
- Elneny isn’t good enough to start
Now, this isn’t a knock on Elneny suggesting he isn’t a good player, I’m not saying that at all. He did average 93% pass accuracy throughout last season, but in here lies the problem. He constantly plays the ball laterally rather than exploring the pass forward that can get the team moving towards the opposition goal. In a two man pivot midfield, Xhaka plays the deep lying playmaker well because he screen for the back 3 and can spray the pass forward. However, he is being tasked with too much because Elneny doesn’t possess the guile to break down the opposition defence and constantly takes the safe pass. This doesn’t mean that he can’t find a place in the squad; he may be useful when trying to see out a game and retaining possession. But when a goal is needed like against Leicester, his use is extremely limited.
- Defensive woes continue
New season, same issue. Of the top 6 teams last season, we conceded the most goals with 44 and it looks like we are continuing in that same fashion. Although the back 3 had never played together, surely a better performance should have been expected given the time the team had to prepare for Leicester. All 3 of Leicester’s goals came from crosses and I would put that down to a lack of communication and leadership at the back. If we still aim to push for the title, these kinds of goals need to be eradicated immediately and it can be done with simply putting the right people in the right place and demanding that they take their defensive responsibility with the upmost respect.
- Giroud is incredibly valuable
Although most fans would believe this, there still remains a small section that believes that Giroud can be flogged off with no repercussions for the team. This, quite frankly, is ridiculous. Although I don’t think that Giroud will ever be that striker that bags 25 goals in a season, his value to the team still remains very high. Firstly, his hold up play is phenomenal as he regularly brings the midfield into play with his ability to hold up the ball in win fouls in good positions to bring the team forward, and in crunch situations, run valuable time off the clock. Secondly, he plays with so much passion and the attitude that many players have been accused of lacking. He always puts his body on the line to help the team and is a valiant performer when we need him to step up the most.
- Cech on the wane?
When Cech was signed, I was ecstatic. Long gone would be the days of relying on Almunia and Fabianski to perform to a high standard. To replace them was a Premier League and Champions League winner who Jose Mourinho once described as the best keeper in the league and a keeper I believed would save us numerous points throughout the season. However, he is now 35 and more mistakes seem to creeping into his game. In the case of Leicester’s equaliser, you would expect the keeper to dominate the 6 yard box and either claim the initial cross, or stay at home and save the additional header. Cech did neither and was stuck in no man’s land with the defence all over the place aswell. Now with Szczesny being sold and me not being convinced by Ospina, the goalkeeping position could become problematic in the near future.
Written by @_TimPD