It was a very good performance from Arsenal again yesterday. Chelsea seemed off the pace but nevertheless it was a solid all-round display from the squad.
5 things we learnt
1. Arsenals squad depth is exceptional and far greater than that of Chelsea.
Players that did not play yesterday: Ospina, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Sanchez, Perez. (Wow that’s a decent team !!). Gabriel, Debuchy, Jenkinson, Gibbs also missing. Whatever you think about Wenger I don’t think there is any debate that this is the strongest squad we’ve had since 2004. A couple of additions, perhaps Lemar and Seri, and surely that’s a squad more than capable of sustaining a challenge for the title?
2. Xhaka might well be the most underrated player in the league.
He’s suffered from the unfortunate consequence of numerous red cards, making the default and go to line of lazy journalists that “he’s a liability”. In my opinion, he’s been quite unlucky since he’s been here. Both red cards last season were debatable, with the one against Swansea particularly bizarre. (Still not seen anyone else sent off for that since, even though they told us it was a rule change). Yesterday Granit was exceptional. His passing is simple and very effective and he’s a lot more mobile than he appears to be. He’s a cross between Petit and Cazorla having qualities of both. Strong in the tackle, cute with the ball. It’s a big season for him no doubt, and perhaps Wenger’s most important task of all is finding the right partner for him in Santi’s absence. Right now, I’d say that was Elneny.
3. Theo will never live up to the hype of 12 years ago.
I’m not a fan of Theo, never really have been. Sure, he scores goals and he can spread the defence of the opposition through his pace, but his first touch is appalling and the difference in pace between him with the ball and without must be the greatest of any player in the league. When he came on yesterday the ball seemed to bounce off him whoever it came to him. He has this uncanny knack of appearing to be technically one of the worst players that Wenger has ever persisted with. Personally, I would sell him to Everton or West Ham. Especially if he’s taking up a squad spot for a better player such as Lemar.
4. Cech is not good enough.
I’ve never really warmed to Cech. Maybe it’s the Chelsea thing I don’t know. But he’s never convinced me. I can’t really put my finger on why. He’s not commanding enough? He gets down far too slowly from long shots? His near post awareness could certainly be better? He quite literally will never ever save a penalty? There were a few times again yesterday when I was reminded of how much I don’t trust him. He’s also getting quite old. I was surprised we sold Chesney, but there was obviously more to it than we understand, but one thing is for sure, Arsenal need a new keeper. I assume it won’t be this season, I just hope I can forget about Cech for most it!
5. Are referees changing?
I’m not sure any referee in prior season would have given that red card to Pedro, and certainly not against Arsenal. But it was a reckless challenge, potentially causing serious injury. It really doesn’t matter at all that he’s “not that kind of player” either, that’s totally irrelevant. I was pleased to see Bobby Maddely give that yesterday. I hope that it’s the beginning of some more responsible refereeing. The Willian card for diving was also good to see. What I’m not sure about though is this: If a player is booked for diving can he still get the two-game ban? Or is it only if the ref doesn’t see it?
I’m quite excited about what this squad can achieve this season and given that I assume the kids/reserves will play cup matches this season at least until after Xmas, the squad should be more than capable of coping with a challenge.
Here’s to a disappointing defeat on Friday at home to Leicester!!!
40-something Surrey-based Gooner. Passionately supporting The Arsenal since the 80’s.