A quick Sunday round-up for you as I got my first real look at pre-season Arsenal yesterday. To tell you the honest truth, it was disgusting and I was left hugely disappointed by the whole thing.
Whoever at Puma decided this colour should be worn by anyone needs to be taken aside and given a stern talking to. As I said in the match report (which includes clips of the goals if you haven’t see them), ” … it looks like somebody washed a real away kit in charcoal then turned the contrast down by 75% before rubbing it with engine oil and the blood squeezed from nits that live on a street urchin.”
Thankfully, however, the football made up for it and if we play like that every time we wear it I could probably live with how awful it looks and the fact that our players are careering about the pitch looking like Pigpen from Charlie Brown.
The performance was excellent and after a fairly dull opening half an hour we sprang into life, blitzing them with four goals in 9 minutes. Giroud shouldered in an Ozil free kick to make it 1-0, and then a blistering break saw Ramsey feed the Frenchman who laid it off to Oxlade-Chamberlain. The England man took it into the box and lashed a low shot into the bottom corner for 2-0.
I have my suspicions/hopes that Oxlade-Chamberlain is on the cusp of really kicking on in his career. He’s at the right age, he’s got plenty of experience, and it’s often the case that at this point all the ingredients come together and the goals start flowing. What we saw from him yesterday – not just his goal by the way, because he was strong, determined and positive all day – is what we need from him as the season progresses. For me the talent and ability is there, so it all hinges on his fitness. If he can stay available I think he’s going to be one to watch.
More fantastic midfield play and a superb pass from Aaron Ramsey set up youngster Alex Iwobi to score the third. He looked lively all day and deserved his goal, as did the Welshman whose run was found perfectly by a sublime Mesut Ozil pass and he poked home to make it 4-0 at the break.
It was less intense in the second half, especially after Ozil made it 5-0 following some nice skills from newly acquired French youngster Jeff Reine-Adelaide. With that scoreline and with so many changes that was inevitable, but Chuba Akpom seemed determined to try and get on the scoresheet. Some of his decision making on the ball, particularly in our half, was a bit suspect but he cracked one shot off the post late on.
It was six of the best before the final whistle when Santi Cazorla took a free kick with his ‘wrong’ foot, drilling it under the wall who were jumping to try and stop a curler. Cheeky, to say the least, and a quick reminder – if any were really needed – that if you don’t love Santi Cazorla you’re most likely dead inside.
Overall, an interesting performance, particularly from a midfield point of view. There were some moments of pre-season sluggishness, but the Coquelin, Ramsey, Ozil thing worked well – allowing for that lovely ‘cohesion’ thing again – while Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right looked like a player determined to nail down that position before the season begins.
There were also goals from midfield which is something the manager spoke specifically about in terms of adding something to the team for the season ahead so hopefully that augurs well for when things really kick off. As the manager pointed out we scored six against a good side without Alexis or Welbeck, so there’s plenty in the squad, but it was also interesting to hear him say (without too much prompting), that we were still looking for ‘opportunities’ in the transfer market.
Theo Walcott (who has reportedly signed a new deal, btw), came on late and played up front. I wonder if he might start there today as the manager has another look at him in that position, or if he’ll play from the right to see if he can respond to the challenge of the Ox. Whatever happens, there’ll be plenty of changes when we face Wolfsburg later on.
I’m particularly interested to see how Chambers and Gabriel get on at centre-half. I thought perhaps he might use this weekend to see how Mertesacker/Gabriel & Koscielny/Chambers partnerships might work, but he obviously has his reasons for selecting his team yesterday the way he did.
Anyway, it’s another positive performance, another positive result, and that’s as much as you can ask for in pre-season. Hopefully today provides more of the same, because next week there’s the glorified friendly that is the Community Shield which will be a much sterner test of where we are.
ps – Zlatantastic.