Well that was just flipping bizarre. How do you analyse that game last night? How can you make any kind of assessment that makes any kind of sense of what transpired yesterday evening, then use it to work out whether we’re basically in the sh*t this season, or whether we’ll be alright?
I guess the answer is simple: you can’t.
Our season will not be defined by one game. It won’t hinge on this result. But at 3-2 down and looking at the upcoming difficult run we’ve got, you’d have to forgive a fellow gooner for feeling pretty grim inside the stadium, I have to say.
Leicester are not a great team and yet at times they looked like the same side that amassed all of those points to win the league through a soak up and counter approach against an Arsenal team that defensively was an absolute shambles. The saving grace we have is that their defence was equally as shambolic and coupled with that we looked really good going forward.
The evening started with a slight surprise in the line up, as Big Per wasn’t available because of his cut and despite training along with Özil this week, Ramsey was also on the bench. I kind of understood that given Ramsey’s propensity for early season injuries and indeed it was the first game of the season last year that caused him to miss three months. So the inclusion of Elneny made sense.
What doesn’t make sense to me is why with Mertesacker our injured, Calum Chambers didn’t even get a look in, but I can only conclude that Arsène is putting him on the platform waiting to depart which if it happens will be a real mistake in my view. Mistake because as good as Nacho is and as great as Kolasinac played yesterday, our back three showed that we can’t rely on them for too many games.
Holding looked shaky, Monreal is a full back filling in and asking him to be the central defender in the three was a lot, whilst Kolasinac probably had the best of the three in the end. For Holding you can put it down to his age, but he made some very sloppy errors and in a week where you heard the manager talking about playing young players knowing they will cost points, you can understand why the back three has been so good for him, because it affords him protection. But when the other two are square pegs in round holes (albeit both have had their edges filed and buffed down a little smoother in the position), it was always going to catch up with him.
If the rumours of Gabriel potentially being on his way back to Spain are true, you’d hope the manager sees sense, because we can’t have the same performance at the back as we had last night. The first goal was a long cross to the back post where two Leicester players were unmarked to head home, whilst the second was a sloppy pass from Granit Xhaka and was entirely preventable. It was the equivalent of an unforced error.
Xhaka didn’t exactly have the best of days until in to the second half, but that seems more symptomatic of who his partner in midfield is. Elneny covered ground, worked hard, but was also at fault for a number of poor passes and decisions. The return of Ramsey was welcome and Xhaka dictated play again and was involved in most of our goals yesterday. It emphasises the importance of finding another midfielder who will work with him but that’s another blog for another day.
Today we must focus on victory and what a victory it was in the end. Swashbuckling stuff from two teams who simply could not defend. The third goal Leicester scored was entirely avoidable and saw Vardy unmarked from a corner, but I’ll park too much more chastising as the blog so far has had a little too much focus on the bad, rather than the good.
And there certainly was some of that. I thought going forward we looked good. We created chances – a whopping 27 attempts on goal in the end – and we had end product. Within a minute or so Lacazette had got off the scoresheet and for him to have scored so quickly will do wonders for his confidence, keep people off his back and mean he doesn’t feel the pressure as much as he might have done if we’d have not seen a first goal for a few weeks. It was a decent enough goal; getting in behind the defenders and nodding the ball past Schmeichel to put us one up. Good on him and let’s hope he turns out to be a gem this season.
The second goal was more about bundling through with desire rather than craft. A mis-hit Lacazette shot found Kolasinac through on goal and the defender did the right thing by squaring the ball for Welbz to also get off the mark. I don’t know what it is, but strikers and attacking midfielders scoring goals always makes me happier. Probably because it’s linked to their own confidence.
Which is why I’m also pleased to see Rambo get one, because his game is about energy and goals and the latter hasn’t really happened since that amazing season about four years ago. His equaliser was met with relief and joy in the ground, but I suspect I was just a bit punch drunk mentally at that stage, because I remember wondering why I wasn’t really celebrating as much as others. It was relief, but also I was annoyed because we should have been better defensively to have put Leicester to the sword.
Fear not though, because when that fourth and final goal was powerfully headed in by Ollie G, I did go nuts. We’d come back to lead in a season opener and all of the recent years hoodoo I was believing was real all just melted away. It was a goal that was textbook Giroud too and I have to say I wonder if this season could be one in which Arsenal fans really start to appreciate Giroud, because he’s not the only option any more. I might do a blog on it at some stage in the week I think.
But for now I’ll just focus on the madness of the Premier League and see y’all later.