I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty disappointed that we drew against Liverpool at home.
A 0-0 draw away at Anfield would be fine – it’s a difficult ground. However, at the Emirates, if we’re really looking at challenging for the title, we need to be winning these matches.
Wenger said himself that our start to the new season has been disappointing and I agree. After all the yammering on pre-season about starting strong and getting off to a good start, we’ve only won four points out of a possible nine.
I don’t care if Chelsea have won the same amount or that Spurs are below us. From an Arsenal fan’s point of view, exclusively looking at our club, we’ve been disappointing.
We’re peppering moments of sheer brilliance with the same old mistakes and it’s beyond frustrating – we’re the footballing equivalent of a broken record. Saying that, I do think we’ve learnt a few of things so far.
1 – Cech is actually quite good
After a dodgy opening match against West Ham, the grumps were already out in force to moan about how we’d splashed too much cash on the former Chelsea goalkeeper. However, after making a couple of stunning saves against Liverpool, I’m sure those naysayers will have firmly shut their mouths.
It all honestly, the Czech might well have gained us a vital point. For the first, he fell to the floor to prevent Christian Benteke from scoring the type of goal only Olivier Giroud could miss (I kid, I kid), and for the second, the 33-year-old showed cat-like reflexes to pounce into action and tip the ball out from a dipping shot by Philippe Coutinho.
2 – Our back four still needs work
Against both West Ham and Crystal Palace, Per Mertesacker and even at times, the ever-reliable, Laurent Koscielny, looked rusty. However, with an unchanged back four, our progress could only realistically go in one direction.
However, it was always pondered what would happen if one was to pick up an injury, or, heaven forbid, both do. Wenger assured us there was a Plan B and we were ready to deploy it if needed.
Well, Plan B got put to the test last night when Kos and the BFG were both ruled out through a back problem and illness. Calum Chambers and Brazilian Gabriel got the nod because, well, who else would we play there?
Chambers was not prepared. The poor lad was passing out from the back, giving the ball away and generally looking like a deer caught in the headlights against Liverpool. Although Gabriel did a decent job in the other centre-back position after he’d warmed up to the game a bit, it’ll be nice to have the BFG and Kos back in business soon.
Still, a change in defence shouldn’t have caused such a huge problem. The sheer anxiety that our team seems to feel as soon as someone so much as breaks wind in our direction is worrying. This is something I thought we’d sorted last season but apparently not.
3 – Coq needs to chill
Don’t get me wrong – I love the guy and think he was brilliant last season. However, so far this season, despite putting in some crucial interceptions, he’s seemed a bit hot headed and panicked.
Rightly or wrongly, he almost got sent off against Crystal Palace and when we faced Liverpool, he was at the heart of a lot of the panic whenever they surged forward.
As a defensive midfielder, you need to remain calm and trust in your abilities, or you end up reaping havoc amongst the defenders behind you, which is precisely what happened on more than one occasion in the first half against Liverpool.
4 – The Ox is a true talent
Not just a ‘prospect‘ or ‘potential talent‘ – an actual bona fide talent.
I’ve always been a fan of the Ox but this season he seems to have just kicked things up a notch (maybe it’s the new haircut?) and is playing out of his skin despite getting minimal game time.
His surging runs forward where he just sprints directly at defenders is so exciting to watch. I sincerely hope he gets rewarded with more playing time soon.
5 – We’re no longer the kings of possession
Before the Liverpool match, Brendan Rodgers spoke about not dominating possession at the Emirates but dominating the space, which is exactly what his team did for the first 45 minutes, leaving us firmly on the back foot. Even then, the visiting team still enjoyed the majority of the possession (58%).
West Ham, rather oddly, also had 58% possession.
Arsenal are known for playing possession football. It’s our ‘thing‘. Wenger-ball. However, if we’re not doing anything with it, it a) doesn’t win us matches and b) gets pretty bloomin’ boring. Don’t get me wrong – I love a bit of ticka-tacker around the area, I practically yodel with happiness at decent build-up play, but there are only so many times I can watch our back four pass it nonchalantly between themselves.
Now, we’ve started to lack possession, even on our home turf. That would be fine if we were still scoring goals but we’re not. So far we’ve picked up one point out of six at home and scored a big, fat zero, which is shockingly depressing.
We need to snap out of it, and I’m sure we will, but that doesn’t make it any less disheartening to witness.