Everything seemed to be going so well yesterday, didn’t it? Right up until that moment when Gabriel flim-flammed his leg by twisting his ankle and having to be carried off on a stretcher. It’s all so very…well…Arsenal, isn’t it?
Had Monreal got injured, we’d have all have been gutted, but Gibbs could have stepped in. If Bellerin went down, there’s Debuchy. For Cech see Ospina. For ALL the midfielders, see ALL the other midfielders. But in classic Arsenal style, we only concentrate our injury problems in one area.
It’s been like that for ages. I remember when we had Cashley and Clichy as our two left backs, then a couple of long-term injuries and we’re playing Pascal Cygan back there. Or how about when we ran out of left backs during the Champions League run, in which Flamini found himself as an able first choice?
So yeah, we’re well used to this kind of luck, and yeah it is about luck rather than anybodies fault. You can’t stockpile players in every position with the 25 man squad rule, so whilst many of us are chewing our nails down to stubby ends about who will start this weekend coming against Liverpool, there is no real blame that can be apportioned. I don’t think, anyway.
As for the game itself, I thought that Gabriel’s injury aside, there was plenty to be positive about. Alexis and Rambo starting was great and it means we have those two as an option for next weekend. Both got a decent level of minutes and neither looked to be showing the signs of fatigue. Plus, Santi got back on the pitch and played, so after his excursions against the Vikings let’s hope he can be ready for next Sunday too.
I thought Ramsey dovetailed particularly well with Alexis too. He made a few runs in between the City defensive lines and it looks like the speculation from many (like Stillberto) that Xhaka has been bought to release Ramsey from his previous shackles, looks to be true. What’s interesting from yesterday is that with Özil out, Ramsey was given that more advanced position, with there nearly being an early reward after a delightful chip/cross from Alexis and a nodded header just on to the roof of the net from Ramsey. The pair worked well. Quite what happens to Ramsey’s performance levels or style of play when Özil returns, I’m not sure, although I’d guess that Coquelin makes way.
The only issue with that is that for most of the second half I thought we were very solid as a collective and the set up of two holding players in Coquelin and Xhaka worked well. So too, did it work when Xhaka came off at half time for Elneny, so whether or not it’s the right move to drop Ramsey into one of the two I don’t know. We’ll only see when the games start coming thick and fast I guess.
Iwobi got himself on the scoresheet too which will be fantastic for his confidence, as will Chuba’s goal, but it was Theo’s that stood out for me. He only had a second half to impress but still managed a decent assist for Iwobi’s goal and a very impressive interplay before lifting the ball cleverly over Hart for his goal too. Arsène spoke afterwards about how he has reacted to the disappointment of losing his place in the Arsenal team and if his reaction reflects an improved performance like yesterday’s on a more consistent basis, then I think we’ll start to see the Theo Walcott who scored goal after goal a few seasons back. More performances like yesterday will go a long way to recapturing some of the negative sentiment I’ve seen around him from some sections of the fanbase. It sounds simple enough to say, but playing well and contributing more goals will have fans back on Theo’s side in no time.
Defensively there are still issues and we still need more in attack, but I took a lot of positives from the match and whilst I’m still nervous for our back line in terms of next weekend, I feel like some of the returning players in Ramsey and Alexis have given us cause for hope.
I feel like this week might drag a little bit, but after all of the disappointments of not bringing more senior players in over the summer, I’m starting to get a excited for the new season now.
Come on you reds!