Sunday, 17 August 2014

Top of the league: Start as you mean to go on - well sort of

Afternoon all,

Having recovered from a day of drinking and nail biting I am finally in a position to give my thoughts on our season opener yesterday.

First and foremost a victory is a victory regardless of how it comes. We have got three points on the board which is three points better off than this time last season. In fact it finally bucks an unwelcome trend of dropping points on the opening day, so that in itself must be applauded.

The performance however wasn't great. Nor was it enjoyable to watch. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It was as pleasant as getting a cheese grater to the balls whilst listening to the noise voice of Michael Owen attempt to construct a coherent sentence. I have decided that this year my post match reports will be set out slightly differently to how I have written them in the past. Partly to cut out the guff as most people tend to watch the match but mostly to provide actual analysis as opposed to provide narrative. It will now follow a simple format and should hopefully add to the debate with any comments welcome.


Calum Chambers - Before we scored the winner in injury time I felt the only player that could really walk down the tunnel having enhanced his reputation was Chambers. In many ways that still holds true but Ramsey stole the headlines to some extent which is understandable having scored the winner. I was very impressed with him. He was composed, good on the ball, had great positional sense and was brave in the challenge. He is clearly still very much work in progress, especially when nobody seems to know what his best position is, but one thing is clear: this kid has bags of talent. He has gone from an exciting prospect at Southampton to a reliable squad player at a top club. With a Champions League debut imminent and the faith of a manager known to give young players a chance he has a great future ahead of him. It really is hard not to get excited.

Winning when not playing well - Not much in our build up play went right yesterday. Lots of misplaced passes from all members of our midfield. They just didn't click in the midfield. Despite this, Arsenal managed three points and won in a scrappy fashion not often associated with us. This is something we will have to continue all season if we are to have a chance to win the League.

Tenacity - Despite never looking like scoring we never gave up and kept on plugging away which in the end paid dividends. Ramsey atoned for a pretty abysmal display by grabbing a late winner. Some may say it was lucky but I would say he moved well and watched the line even better to be in the right place at the right time.


Passing - One could never guess from our performance yesterday that we are a team renowned for slick passing and combinations. We controlled possession in periods through sideways passing but always struggled passing forward. All the players in our midfield struggled to find each other regularly and this caused us to be very disjointed in the attacking third. This looked like a group of individuals rather than a team and this is something that needs to be worked on immediately. In fairness, I would venture a guess as this being a bad day at the office as opposed to a general problem within the team but with a crucial Champions League qualifier on the horizon we have got to shape up and fast.

Defending that corner - Much can be said about the merits of zonal or man marking systems but the truth is whichever system is deployed, everyone has to do their job. Alexis tried to contain Hangeland but after leaving his zone it was the job of a sleeping Koscienly to prevent Hangeland from making that header. He didn't attack the ball because he didn't even know he was coming. He needed to be more aware and get to that ball. Once Hangeland got his head to it a goal was always likely, especially when there was nobody on the far post. Why that was the case is beyond me but for a team who had the best defensive record when defending set pieces, this wasn't really reassuring.

Movement in the attacking third - This seems a bit general and I suppose it is because much of our play seemed pedestrian and lethargic. Sanogo was preferred up front to Giroud for that extra fitness and movement but he seemed to not contribute much at all. The rest of the team either ran too far beyond or held their runs which resulted in lots of misplaced passes as mentioned earlier. It was as though they were not on the same wavelength as each other. This was particularly true of Alexis, whilst cannot be faulted for effort, did find himself unable to effectively communicate with his new team mates. I suspect it may take a few weeks to develop those relationships but it was certainly a hindrance yesterday.

Gibbs injury - Gibbs seemed to have pulled up with a hamstring complaint which could see him out for three weeks. If that is the case then we are even lighter, number wise, defensively. Our need for a new signing at the back has just increased exponentially.


We won. We got three points. We know what needs to be improved. We can only get better. Hopefully the results stay the same though.

Also remember to join the Goonerverse Fantasy League.

The code is: 2125017-470489

Until next time.


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