Good afternoon you Gooners, welcome back to the column. What have I learnt from the two opening fixtures after the cracking Community Shield win?
*Oh, the daughter wants the TV on…okay, let’s sort that out, what’s on CBeebies…? ‘Postman Pat’ – blimey, is he still employed?! He gets one package a day, invariably loses it, breaks it or otherwise has an episode of bally-who with it, and comes up smelling of roses…you’d have thought that he’d have cashed in his shares by now and sodded off to Balamory or something*
After two fixtures; at home to manager-less Crystal Palace and away to manager-in-the-stands-at-the-end Besiktas, what have I learnt so far?
The team looked scared to pull the trigger
Certainly in Turkey, Arsenal seemed to have reverted back to old type; failing to kill off moves. Aaron Ramsey had a glorious opportunity to shoot after the second half kicked off, when an Arsenal move fed Ramsey at the edge of the box, and Olivier Giroud also appeared leaden-footed when presented with the ball inside the box.
*Crikey, what is that smell? Is that me?* I f**king hope not*
It was only when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Alexis Sanchez that Arsenal were presented with their best chance to steal the tie, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain slalomed through the Turkish left and fizzed a rocket off towards goal. A stunning save onto the post denied a glorious winner at the death.
*Crivens, it’s her. Uurgh, that absolutely reeks. Why on Earth did we give her vegetable Biryani last night?*
Arsenal need to be far more ruthless this season when presented with opportunities to shoot. But I’ve been saying this for the best part of a decade now…please Arsene, can we get a properly selfish, goal-hungry #9 to offer Giroud genuine competition.
The defence looked exposed too often
Yes, yes, *defensive midfielder klaxon* but in all seriousness, a team as limited as Besiktas, home tie or not, should not have exposed the defence of The Gunners as often as they did – far too often for my comfort whilst watching from a comfy sofa on holiday. Demba Ba has an uncanny knack of scoring against Arsenal, and he was allowed a few decent sighters throughout the game. Mikel Arteta limped off with a sprained ankle, but even when he was on, he wasn’t enough to cover up a depleted backline. Arsenal simply must reinforce this area of the squad. Whilst Calum Chambers looks a sterling purchase, Thomas Vermaelen must be replaced by a top class centreback.
*There’s no use, I’ve got to change her. The smell…the horror, the horror*
Mathieu Debuchy looks a fine signing to replace Bacary Sagna
I love Debuchy’s engine. He is up and down that right flank like an Olympic sprinter. I can see him netting far more often than Sagna did too. A very sound purchase methinks. I thought that against Palace and Besiktas, Debuchy was top-notch. It is a shame that Arsenal didn’t take a gamble on him (and Yohan Cabaye) straight from Lille a few seasons ago…
*F**k me, I don’t know whether to clap or clean this nappy. I can actually see the smell. It’s in my mouth…it is absolutely astonishingly bad*
I really hope that Debuchy grabs his opportunity to star for a Champions League side (I hope…) before he gets too old. He really has fitted into the team nicely.
I don’t like the lack of defenders on the post when defending corners
You would have thought, after all of the set piece goals that Arsenal have conceded (especially the ones that Brede Hangeland has scored himself against The Arsenal), removing cover on the posts would be the last thing the team would trial/implement. But no, at corners, Arsenal now bare their posts as freely as a TOWIE cast member will expose a slipped nipple at the hint of a paparazzi camera.
And so it was, Hangeland bagged his annual set piece goal against Arsenal. Too many times, Arsenal get caught out at set pieces. This has to stop. These are cheap goals to concede, and Crystal Palace’s goal made a nervy start to the league season even nervier. I probably wasn’t the only Arsenal fan with sweaty, shuddering visions of the disastrous, poisonous home opener against Aston Villa last season flashing through my mind when the Gunner net rippled…thank you Laurent and Aaron!
The Yaya Sanogo indulgence must start to pay off soon
*I think there is a bit on my finger…get it off…get it off…GET IT OFF! Oh, it is chocolate. Right, ‘Peppa Pig’ DVD on, sit there and don’t do a nappy like that again please, or we’ll stop feeding you*
Right then, is Sanogo going to be Arsenal’s only Giroud competition then? If that is the case, we can write off the big trophies in August then. Giroud is probably good for 20 goals again. But Sanogo is probably going to be lucky to net a quarter of that tally. And that isn’t enough.
Arsenal need an International level centre-forward to provide a genuine option to the two French forwards. We know the money is there. Is it simply a case of securing Champions League group stage qualification before a move is made? I really hope so. Otherwise, Sanogo is going to have to have a 1998-99 Nicolas Anelka-esque explosion in talent and verve.
Who is available? Well, if AS Monaco are imploding, Radamel Falcao is there for the taking, Paris Saint-Germain need to consider FFP restrictions, so Edinson Cavani could be sacrificed, or there is Porto’s Jackson Martinez – surely playing in a league below his talents – but perhaps, Real Madrid need to buy the aforementioned Falcao before freeing up Karim Benzema? I don’t know, all I do know is that whilst Alexis Sanchez is a stunning addition, he is probably not the #9 option required after last season’s efforts. Unless, of course, Theo Walcott will be..?
*People can see that ‘Peppa Pig’s’ head looks like a cock and balls, right?!*
All in all, a decent enough start for Arsenal, although Everton away, the site of an unacceptable capitulation last season, will be a far harder proposition, and may throw up a few more questions…
Thanks for reading
I have been an Arsenal supporter since the 1990/91 season after being introduced to football, aged eight, during the Italia 90 World Cup. My favourite player as a young Gooner was Stefan Schwarz and I have a soft spot now for Theo Walcott.
I am a father and husband and lecturer in a Sussex college. I have written for Sabotage Times and am also a Real Oviedo shareholder.
I try to blog daily too – ‘GregCross82’s Arsenal Blog’ http://arsenalramble.wordpress.com/