The fallout from the weekend’s game still appears to be reverberating around the social media sphere, with Arsenal fans still disappointed with the opening weekend’s result, but time will hopefully heal. It just takes a little longer when you have no frame of reference i.e. It’s the first game of the season and you don’t know if it’s a ‘blip’ or a genuine worry on how we’ll perform this year.
If I can try to look at the positives, it is that the majority of football fans – not even Arsenal fans – who reported in to work yesterday, appeared to be of the same mind. There’s the odd bit of bluster and joking (refusing to us the ‘B’ word), but by-and-large everyone seems to be quite dismissive of the first weekend. Whether that’s because I work in a largely Arsenal-supporting office, with not a Liverpool or City fan in sight and the occasional spattering of Chelski scummers, remains to be seen. But the general consensus seems to remain that ‘these things happen’ during the first weekend of the season.
Why then, do I take to Twitter on the journey home, eh? Because all it seemed to do to me yesterday was start to get me worried about the team again. Giroud took a bit of a pasting on my timeline, as RTs and opinions on his shortcomings were plentiful in their supply. He’s too slow. He doesn’t finish enough chances. He just isn’t good enough. Apparently. I have to admit I was a little surprised with the fervour in which Giroud was seized upon if I’m honest. Sure, he frustrated me with a couple of occasions in which perhaps he could have done better, but I think it was a collectively abject performance that cost us the three points, not because we didn’t have Karim Benzema leading the line yesterday (as somebody pointed out – there’s not much difference he would have made – unless we were putting him in goal and it turns out he’s better than Cech).
Giroud has his limitations and he is not one of the top five strikers in the world, but until one of those five strikers becomes available, is there any point in ‘settling’ for another version of Giroud? I don’t think so. I don’t want us to move sideways in our player acquisition strategy, I want us to move forward, so unless a world beater can be found, we should – and have to – stick with what we’ve got.
It didn’t help that the team as a whole couldn’t string more than four passes together before spraying the ball out of play. It didn’t help that Giroud had to go trying to collect the ball on the left a couple of times and it didn’t help that we didn’t seem to have the bodies close enough to him to play off to his strengths. He’s a link man. He needs runners around him who he can hold the ball up and release to. What he doesn’t need is a narrow team who are not able to feed him accurate balls. What he doesn’t need is Coquelin picking up the ball in the centre circle and spraying it to nobody for a free kick. What he really doesn’t need is an Aaron Ramsey who is not looking up all the time, or who doesn’t make the runs beyond him as we’ve known him to do.
Perhaps it was a bad day at the office for The Arsenal? Ramsey isn’t going to reign in his natural instincts to get beyond the striker and make his runs in to the box again, is he? Cazorla and Coquelin aren’t going to misplace a litany of balls every week, are they? And Giroud won’t miss chance after chance each week, will he?
With only one game as a reference point this season, it’s hard to say ‘of course not. Had we already been six games in to the season and seen us win six on the trot, people would be more forgiving, I suspect. But when you have nothing to frame it, it becomes a marker for how the whole season will be.
It won’t. Alexis will get better. Ramsey, Cech, Coquelin, Santi and yes, even Giroud, will get better. But they have to get better quick. Because we could be experiencing a bit of déjà vu on the start of last season if we don’t string together some wins. Let the opening weekend be the adrenalin kick to everyone that we needed.