Monday, 1 September 2014

Arsenal Only Get A Point At Leicester

Arsenal went to Leicester yesterday afternoon knowing a win would would put them into third place with seven points out of a possible nine going into the international break. On the face of it the task was fairly simple for a star laden Arsenal team, but since when do Arsenal do things the easy way. There were injuries for Arsenal of course and it was the team's fifth game in two weeks since the season started which was putting a strain on the players too. 

Those injuries deprived Arsenal of Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Abou Diaby, but there was enough quality in the team to get the result they needed. Arsene Wenger made a couple of changes from the team which just about edged Besiktas out on Tuesday night with Yaya Sanogo and Aaron Ramsey coming in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere. With Giroud out until at least January it gave Sanogo another chance to show he can stake a claim for the striker's role. 

Arsenal started brightly enough and took the lead after only 20 minutes when Alexis Sanchez finished neatly after a Sanogo touch from a great lofted Santi Cazorla pass. It set Arsenal up nicely or so it seemed, but Leicester were level within three minutes when Leonardo Ulloa heading home from a fine cross. Maybe Laurent Koscielny should have done better to cut out the cross, but he was clearly struggling after a nasty clash of heads earlier in the game. I was a little surprised to see him return to the field of play after that knock and he departed to be replaced by Calum Chambers soon after the goal was conceded.

Leicester had shown they were no mugs when they twice came from behind to get a point at home to Everton on the opening day as well as making a real game of it away to Chelsea for a long period last week before losing 2-0. Arsenal were laboured in their approach for the rest of the first half and the closest they came was when Cazorla went down in the box after getting a kick in the ankle, but the referee had no interest in awarding a penalty. I hoped for better in the second half, but the players looked like the exertions of the previous two weeks had taken their toll.

The game could have gone either way in that second half with chances at either end, but the 1-1 draw was probably a fair result in the end. Arsenal's best chance fell to Sanogo, but his effort was blocked by the legs of the goalkeeper. There was also a moment when Ramsey was played through and headed for goal when a header back to Sanogo would have set him up with an open goal. 

It's fair to say Arsenal have been laboured in their five games so far and have just about scraped through to the group stages of the Champions League. The five points they have in the league are probably a fair return for their performances so far and it means they're already four points behind the pace setters. With all the talk of the need for a striker it also has to be noted Arsenal have not kept a clean sheet in their three league games so far.

I thought the season arrived a little too early for Arsenal with their German trio still on leave after their World Cup win and pre season very limited. The team may have come through August unbeaten, but their performances have been far from impressive too often for my liking. I don't usually welcome an international break as they tend to break up the team's momentum, but Arsenal probably need that break right now. Of course most of the squad will head off to various corners of the globe with their countries, but a few of the injured players will be available when the players return in just short of two weeks time.

Hopefully there will be some new additions to the team as well over the next 24 hours before the transfer window closes. It's clear the squad needs a central defender and a defensive midfielder too and the need for a top class striker is there for all to see. With Giroud available I thought a striker was needed and the case is even more pressing with him out until the new year. The rumours abound at the moment and we can only hope for a top class striker to join at the last minute.

The transfer window started so well that it's hard to believe Arsenal find themselves scrambling on the final day yet again to find the players the team/squad needs. I find it difficult to believe that the club couldn't identify their targets earlier in the window and get their business done before it's time to press the panic button. 

There's every possibility the squad won't change before the window closes and it's hard to see the current squad making a concerted challenge on all fronts. When departures are taken into account the only real difference from last season is the arrival of Sanchez and good as he is the team needs more. I'll be writing my season preview when the window closes and I'm hoping to have a few more players to write about.

Finally for today it's still not too late to join my predictions league and you can do so here with the code FD20D-AVD after you have made your predictions. You can also join over 1,250 others in my fantasy league here with the code 13125-4843 after you have set up your team and there's €50 to the winner. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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