Morning folks, how we all doing?
I didn’t get around to penning any thoughts yesterday about the game, on account of the stinking hangover, followed by having the parents over and then trying to trudge my way around a golf course first thing yesterday, so I thought today I’d reflect a little on the weekend’s action.
From a Premier League perspective, I don’t think you can read too much in to opening day results. The Villa tonking they got against Newcastle was perhaps somewhat of a surprise, but at home and with a renewed sense of vigour on Tyneside, I’m not surprised that Newcastle were able to run away with their game. That Isak fella is going to do well this season if he stays fit. The two Desmond’s yesterday were a little more of a surprise; I thought the Scum would probably beat a Brentford side sans Toney and Raya, but they looked ok and the Scum without Kane have shown that they will score. But it’s difficult to really tell based on one game. Likewise in the Chelsea/Liverpool game; I thought that Liverpool are going to be back to their very best when I saw them go two up against Chelsea and so actually switched off the TV to go and sit in the garden for a few hours. Then blow me if I don’t read online that Chelsea were 2-1 up, that the second goal Liverpool had scored had been ruled out and the game had turned!
In comparison with some of the results over the weekend, from an Arsenal perspective, I guess you’d say it was pretty routine. I mean it wasn’t when they scored on 82 minutes and we had a good 15 minutes of time remaining to play including injury time, but if you think about how the game played out as a whole, it was pretty standard stuff. We had something crazy like 78% of the ball, we created a fair few chances and at halftime they had been limited to just one effort, plus we’d scored two goals in the first half to make it all feel rather comfortable up until they hit us on the counter late on. We all know Elanga is a rapid guy and when you’re putting him in a foot race against Saka and Rice who have just played the whole match of their first game of the proper season, there’s always going to be that chance that they’re tired, so I guess it’s just one of those things. Ultimately it didn’t cost us and our season is up and running with the win.
The talking points were definitely based on the first XI and squad that Arteta picked. Having Gabriel on the bench was really interesting; it was a switch to a back three formation and was clearly in response to how Forest lined up. Arteta wanted more firepower in his attack and that’s why he went with Eddie, Havertz, Martinelli, Odegaard and Saka; five creative and attacking players knowing that we’re going to see a lot of the ball and we’re going to spend a lot of the time camped in their half. The Gabriel decision was clearly to get the players on the pitch who are best with the ball at their feet and hence why it was White, Saliba and Timber. Big Gabby is good, but he’s more of a ball-winning centre half rather than a better distributor than the others. The injury to Timber looked like it scuppered the situation for us a little, but bringing Tomiyasu on for big Gabby was interesting I thought. Arteta spoke in pre season about us trying different combinations and this was obviously the first example of that. I was chatting to Giles before we went in to the ground on Saturday (well, before we ended up standing in a queue for 30 minutes because the turnstiles buggered up!) about how difficult it is going to be for opposing teams’ analysts to predict how we will set up, because if we’re fans that spend all of our time watching, talking and reading about Arsenal and we have no idea how we’ll line up, how on earth are those scouts looking at us for a short period of time??
Of course the down side to that is that those famous ‘automatisms’ become a little more difficult to develop, but this is probably the best approach if we want teams to not just ‘work us out’ like perhaps some of them did towards the end of last season.
I suspect that big Gabby will be back in the team for Palace on Monday night though.
The other discussion point I saw online was Kai Havertz, who seemed to divide opinion amongst the fans. I didn’t think he did anything wrong on the day, but I also didn’t think he did that much spectacularly either, so it’s difficult for me to form a judgement. But if we find ourselves with a dozen games of Kai Havertz performances like that I will probably start to change my tune I think. He’s a decent player, I really hope he bangs, but last week against Man City I didn’t think he was amazing and this weekend just gone where he’s played in the position I think he could be better at – left eight – he hardly set the world alight.
Away from the Havertz stuff there’s also the Tierney situation, as he wasn’t even selected for the bench, with the manager instead picking three centre halves to warm the subs bench (Gabriel, Kiwior and Tomiyasu). I think we all know that KT’s days are probably numbered and that is a shame, but at this stage I think it’s fair to say that I think it’s best for all parties if we can find him a new club.
What I find amazing however is the lack of suitors. This is a guy we all love, he’s been a great player for us, just doesn’t fit our system, yet the only noises we’re hearing was that Celtic might be interested, or Newcastle have slightly renewed their interest in him. But there doesn’t seem to be any proper links from the journos who do tend to be spot on when they talk about rumours. Romano, for example, seems to be saying that Sociedad on loan is about the only stuff happening around KT right now. How is a Scotland international that is so well thought of not attracting more interest?
I have no idea. But as I said above – we need to get his future sorted out sooner rather than later.
Right – that’s me done for the day. I’m offski for a day of work. Have a good’un.