Wednesday 21 September 2016

Four – Midable At The City Ground

 What a great run out for our boys at Nottingham Forest to crown 3 away games across 3 competitions without a loss.

The manager’s selection was something of a pleasant surprise to me. I was expecting David Ospina in goal as I had totally forgotten Emiliano Martinez. As it turned out he was relatively untroubled in goal and had Matt Macey as a back up. I remember Matt was on the bench during our 3 all draw with Liverpool at Anfield in January. The presence of these 4 goalkeepers in the Arsenal team further underlines the depth of the squad.

I was delighted to see Ainsley Maitland - Niles at right back. Many have worried about a deputy for Hector Bellerin what with the indifferent form and maybe indifferent attitude of Mathieu Debuchy. A player who has been unfortunate to lose his place in the line up to a vile & dirty player in Marko Arnautovic.

Jeff Reine - Adelaide, Chuba Akpom & Rob Holding are very popular young players amongst the fan base and they all had starts and a very good game. I was delighted to see Captain Kieran Gibbs lead the team out. Kieran deserves a lot of praise for his positive attitude at lack of starts, as the manager has rightly preferred Nacho Monreal in both League competitions. Commendably, every time he has been called upon, Kieran has never disappointed. His goal against the Spuds to force a draw at The Emirates last season will remain forever in my memory.

I was happy to see Gabriel start following his recovery from a freak injury at the last game of pre season. There were memorable starts for Granit Xhaka & Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Both of them in the goals. Xhaka’s goal deserves all the superlatives you can find in the dictionary and Oxlade – Chamberlain’s goal was a lovely topping on a delicious ice cream.

The 4 nil result reflected the gulf in class at the end of the day but it was by no means an easy match. Forest had a few very close efforts on goal and should have scored before Xhaka stepped up with his wonderful wand of a left leg. Bendtner had an effort curved wide. I have seen him score that type of effort many times for the Arsenal.

Pajtim Kasami should have scored when Gabriel and Holding fluffed their lines. I fear that mix up happens too often with Arsenal or maybe I am wrong and it is inevitable that such errors / lack of concentration will happen in any game of football. 

Xhaka’s goal settled nerves and deflated both the home crowd and their boys and was just deserts as they had mouthed off about our lack of Champions League glory.  I always worry when Arsenal don’t score in the first 20 minutes of a match. I think we always try to play positive football and drive towards goal with a belief that we can always score. However once we don’t score in the first 20 minutes, it emboldens the opponents and it can sometimes be something of a heads down moment for our boys and then you start to see errors either due to nerves or anxiety that we are yet to score.

The talent of Reine - Adelaide shone throughout the match but he might need to tone down the showboating. Elneny looked a bit different. He appears to be a bit slower and less imposing than the player we saw last season. Xhaka was in full control of the midfield, starting the attacks, spraying passes and engaging in tackles.

Perez was a busy bee throughout the 90 minutes and got two goals. He could and should have had a hat trick but he had a good shot saved by the keeper and was unselfish in trying to tee up Chuba Akpom with what should have been another effort on goal. This is both good and somewhat negative. Good in the sense that at 3 nil, there was no way back for Forest, so he might as well spread the joy by helping his fellow forward score a goal. Slightly negative that he MIGHT not have the killer, selfish & greedy instinct that strikers should have.

We fluffed some of our lines in attack. It would appear some of the forward players still need time to gel, to instinctively understand each other. All of these, I believe will come as the season progresses and players are able to get game time under their belt.

I noticed a few heavy challenges from the Forest players especially Lansbury. He appeared to be trying too hard. It makes you wonder if there is a back-story to his crunching tackles on the night. In my opinion, these sort of tackles are the cause of Arsenal’s injury records and I believe Referees should be severely clamping down on such.  

Towards the end of the match, the Manager brought on Willock, Zelalem and Bielik and it gladdens my heart to see the next generation, the future of the club.  I can’t wait for these young players to break into the first team.

So we got Reading in the next round. Courtesy of the club’s website, I watched the highlights of our last league cup match with them this morning. I am not hoping for anything as ‘exciting’ as that match. I am looking forward to a similar line up at The Emirates and I am confident that whatever line up the manager decides, the boys will give a very good account of themselves, the club and their manager.  It is a mug’s game trying to second-guess a very successful manager.

Before then, we’ve got the Chavs this Saturday. I hope we tonk them.

Come On Arsenal    

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