I am not happy, but then again, who is after that performance? Granted, I am happy with the notion that Arsenal started the year off on the front foot in getting all three points at the Emirates against a Crystal Palace side who were never going to come to the Emirates and be open. But apart from that, we were poor..quite poor indeed. Simply put, thank god for Aaron Ramsey, yet again.
Even in the aftermath of the Tony Pulis fiasco, you could never assume that Palace would be an easy task. Like so many smaller clubs, they’ll always look to come into unfriendly territory and set themselves up for a draw. They’ll always force you to ask the questions, and they’ll hope the answer is 10-men behind the ball; today, it all nearly stuck to the script.
Arsene Wenger named an unchanged XI from the side that thrashed Manchester City, so yes, that included Yaya Sanogo. While the lumbering Frenchman showed some promise against City, today, he was quite poor indeed. It’s become more and more clear that Wenger has a bias; Olivier Giroud did not get the nod, so why not start Campbell? Podolski? even Alexis Sanchez at striker? Sanogo did little to suggest he does not need a loan or two, but unless Wenger decides to loan him out, we’re stuck with him in the first team at least until January.
The back-four was solid, but Palace rarely threatened so there wasn’t too much to do. Calum Chambers played well in his Premier League debut, and apart from a poor pass that led to the corner which Palace scored on, he did everything to prove he can contribute this season. Oh yes, about that corner; ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? When will we stop relying on zonal marking?! And for the love of all things holy, why was SANCHEZ of all people marking Brede Hangeland?! Who designates assignments?!
Now that I have gotten that off my chest, the rest of the back-four played well and Szczesny was solid as per usual – the goal comes down to poor choices on who “marks” who in the box, but the rest was solid. The major issue on the day, as expected, was the midfield and how we played going forward.
Yet again (this is getting tiresome and even more frustrating with each performance), Jack Wilshere was woeful. He spends far too much time trying to recreate the goal against Norwich rather than playing his role to maximum effectiveness. His decisions were poor, he was routinely outmuscled yet again against another side set up to defend; I’m sorry, but he just doesn’t belong in the first team.
As for Mikel Arteta, he may be club captain, but he was not much better either. However, I found myself so frustrated with Wilshere, that Arteta’s sub-par performance didn’t even register on my radar till after the fact – poor.
Alexis Sanchez will come good, of this I am sure, but people really do not understand that all signings need time to acclimate to a new club, team, way of life, new manager, new ground and a new city – it all takes time and it’s all about of the psychology. He worked hard as he always doe, but apart from the wonderful ball to Koscielny for his goal, Sanchez lacked the final article; but he will be fine, he will.
As for going forward, Sanchez tried to do his part, but you can just see how much he will struggle in the beginning given we play such possession and we really have no intention of trying to counter attack; for all their Tiki Taka, even Barca would switch it up when necessary. On that same argument, Santi Cazorla should never start unless he’s coming in at CAM; he’s hopeless and useless when deployed on the left; better off giving Campbell, Poldi or the Ox a run out there…all are wide players and can do a job.
On the whole I am glad we started off better than last season, but Wenger does have to address what he refuses to; midfield. With Wilshere and Arteta really not being quality enough, if we do not bring in a top class player there, we won’t be winning the league any time soon; the FA Cup or Carling Cup will have to suffice yet again. More to the point, Wenger needs to finally concoct a plan B – when you know sides will play this way, you have to change it up. Truthfully, we got lucky to find the winner, as it looked like it wasn’t coming.
Next league fixture see’s us away at Everton, who (while it is incredibly unfortunate) will be without Ross Barkley for the next 4-5 months, which was confirmed today. After their struggles today as well, they’ll be looking to come out at Goodison and set it straight; we’ll need to do the same. We have Besiktas midweek in Istanbul, another hard task, but the perfect opportunity to iron it all out – COYG