Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Arsenal Fail To Learn Their Lessons Again

Here we are again one game into the new season and Arsenal find themselves in the middle of another crisis. They lost their opening game 4-3 at home to Liverpool despite scoring the first goal and the team yet again seemed anything but ready for the opening game. In an all too familiar scenario we were told by Arsene Wenger that the team were ready and able for the big kick only for him to change his story after the game.

Everybody knew when the season started and for him not to have the team ready for that kick off is inexcusable. It's not as if it's a one off either as Arsenal have only won once in the last seven seasons on the opening day. Is he so unable to read the form and fitness of his players that he genuinely got it so badly wrong in believing they were ready.

Of course he wasn't helped by the absences of Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud who should be available very soon. The real problems came in defence where the absence of Koscielny was added to by the recent injuries to both Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista. The inexperience of both Calum Chambers and Rob Holding was cruelly exposed by Liverpool and we should never have reached a position where those two were our central defensive pairing on the opening day.

It started so well for Arsenal with Theo Walcott giving them the lead just after the half hour mark despite missing a penalty only a minute earlier. As half time approached Arsenal seemed in command, but Holding gave away a needless free kick and Phillippe Coutinho made him pay a heavy price with a great finish. There were questions to answer for Petr Cech who might have done better and his inability to keep out long range efforts has to be a worry.

The second half was a completely different story with Liverpool going for the jugular from the start and Arsenal going 4-1 down soon after the hour mark. To make matters worse Arsenal lost both Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey to injuries, but their replacements did their part in trying to get something from the game. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the next goal with Santi Cazorla making it and the third Arsenal goal too. There were still 15 minutes left to play at that stage, but Liverpool managed to steady the ship and Arsenal never really looked like equalising.

Looking back the team was so far off what is needed to beat another so called title contender that the result wasn't a surprise. As well as the shortcomings in defence the inclusion of Alexis Sanchez at centre forward didn't work and he has never looked comfortable when he has been asked to play in that position. To play Walcott on the right went against everything the manager had told us about Walcott only a few days earlier and it was almost impossible to believe.

If he had belief in his only two fit central defenders to play despite their age then why didn't he choose his only fit centre forward in Chuba Akpom or even Walcott. Alexis is wasted in that role and he has so much more to offer the team on either the right or left of the attack. There was no proper balance to the attack even if they did manage to score three goals against a Liverpool defence who were just as bad as our defence.

The difference between the teams on the day for me was Liverpool had so much more to offer going forward. Even without Daniel Sturridge they looked like they could score at any time while Arsenal were too easy to stop. The return of Ozil and Giroud will improve Arsenal going forward, but a top class centre forward is desperately needed and it looks like we have no hope of getting one.

I was also more than a little surprised to see Granit Xhaka on the bench after we spent something like £35 million on him in May. Surely the midfield combination should be him and Mohamed Elneny as they can both do the defensive work needed and have far more going forward than Francis Coquelin. Even when Xhaka came on it was for Elneny when the team needed to find more in attack. After spending so much money on Xhaka does he still need to prove himself before he can cement a place in the team.

We play again next weekend when we go to Leicester and it doesn't look like the central defensive options will change by then. Does that mean we will see the same pairing as we did on Sunday and if so will we continue to suffer as they continue to learn their trade. Leicester haven't started the defence of their title too well either, but they will most certainly try to target our defence on Saturday.

The simple solution to strengthening the team has to be to get the job done early and give new players time to gel before the season starts. The arrival of Xhaka led us to believe things might be different this season, but the inactivity since then has been all too familiar. Money cannot be a problem with the money available to the club and it's impossible not to believe Arsenal just won't pay the going rate even if that rate is currently incredibly high.

It looks like we'll be scrambling around in the dying embers of the transfer window trying to pick any bargains or players other clubs don't want. How that fits in with any club's "transfer policy" is something I can't understand, but I don't doubt that it's what we will end up with. It doesn't mean we won't challenge for trophies this season, but it definitely means we won't give ourselves the best possible chance of doing so.

Finally for today there's still time to join my Fantasy League and my Predictions League for the new season. There's a €50 prize for the fantasy league and it's open to anyone to join.

To join my fantasy league go to the official site and set up your team after entering your details. Once you've set up your team go to the league's option and join a private league. The code for my league (Ever Arsenal league) is 64693-22498 and there's already well over 500 teams in it.

For my predictions league go to the official site and make your forecasts for the first set of games (you can change them later if you want) and then go to the mini leagues option. Go to the join a mini league option (invitation code) and use the code for my league 64693-215432 to sign up. After that you can join in the fun of predicting every single game in the upcoming season.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment