Welcome to the new season, we have all suffered a collective pain at the lack of competitive league football. As the league starts, excitement rises, expectation of how new players will fare and quickly adapt to the team, managers want to see actual results from all the pre-season training and tactical instructions. All this and more comes to the fore-front as the first league match played out.
Arsenal vs Leicester
5-2-3 vs 4-4-1-1 Unchanged from last season
Arsenal: Monreal in the middle of a back three was an obvious mistake. That position is meant for a tall, physically strong no nonsense athlete. Fielding a back three with only one recognised defender was always going to spell trouble.
Leicester City: Fielding want-away midfielder Riyad Mahrez was always a risk, he didn’t apply himself and showed his mind was elsewhere. A willing player would have been more productive against a porous arsenal defence.
Arsenal: Possession football, changed formation to 4-3-3 with no recognised defender in the 2nd half. Desperate management from Wenger.
Leicester City: Strong at the back and exploit mistakes. Long ball into the box and Okazaki was disturbing Cech at all times. Patient and very effective at set pieces.
(1) Elneny looped the ball to a sharp Lacazette who send the ball into the net with a beautiful gliding header.
(2) Welbeck’s goal was fortuitous not to be flagged offside who was passed a square ball by new boy Sead Kolasinac.(Why O Why cant Welbeck not stay on his feet after a shot at goal, he usually scoffs the shot or falls in the process just an observation no judgement.)
(3) Ozil uses his hand to control the ball (unseen by the referee) which results to a corner. The corner isnt defended well, Xhaka finds Ramsey in the box whose first touch was good and way able to send the ball into the top corner equalising for the Gunners.
(4) Corner for the Arsenal, Xhaka send a ball in, Giroud rises highest to meet the ball and send the Emirates into a roar of adulation as the ball hits the bar then over the line.
(1) Corner Kick to the Foxes, header on by Maguire and final finish by Okazaki who got the better of Xhaka at the far post. Strong and fast response by Leicester to equalise.
(2) The first goal by Vardy was an excellent cross from Albriton and and even better finish from the England Striker. tried to counter attack more in the second half with two almost moment that would have set Jamie Vardy free but one Cech came out of his box and the other Holding did very well to recover from. Generally scored against the run of play.
(3) Another Corner beautifully fizzed, with an unmarked Jamie Vardy silencing the Emirates faithful with a deft headed and sending the the Fox fans into joy and adulation.
(1) Petr Cech Positioning for Corners and free kicks needs to be evaluated. He doesn’t take charge of his Penalty area sadly, seems as if he is past his best.
(2) Monreal played out of position and it showed. He tried his best but he was setup to fail by his manager.
(3) Holding needs to be told to pass early or boot the ball up-field instead of trying to run with the ball and inevitably giving the ball away.
(4) More Focus when defending set pieces. Xhaka need to be strong while defending in the box, being beaten by the smallest player on the pitch is absurd. He was also at fault for given the ball away for Leicester’s second goal.
(5) Bellerin needs to concentrate more on his defensive duties and not always bum forward.
(1) Maguire who hadn’t played for the foxes in two seasons due to a serious knee injury did very well in making life uncomfortable for Arsenal newboy Lacazette but was to blame for the first goal. Needed to be faster in reacting to Lacazette’s goal.
(2) More strategic pressing of the ball in their own half. Was too easy for Arsenal to get the ball in the box.
(3) Better set piece defending and clearing ball in the box. They also need to stop trying to be defensive for 93mins or so it is not possible.
Arsenal attack was fluid enough and seemed like they could score at will at times. The frustration to fans and pundits alike is the fact that they like to pass and pass the ball in the penalty area to their peril and reluctance to shoot. They scored four against Leicester and could have been more if all was well with the selected personnel. This brings me to Ozil Ozil Ozil!!! One of the worst performances I have witnessed from him. Clearly not match fit, he just recovered from an ankle issue. Had no business on the pitch (and it showed). He was not on the same wavelength with his team mates, didn’t apply himself. Doesn’t track back especially when he gives the ball away. To quote my colleague here at My Soccer Digest: Beautiful Nonsense.
Arsenal are comfortable in possession outside of vital areas and lack any real penetration. They seem scared of contact and direct approach to getting a goal. This is their main mental block. They like to go the long way to score a goal. Their indirect style play goes from boring to exciting but seems unnecessary particularly against a weak defense fielded by Leicester in this game.
Leicester have a very unique attacking philosophy. They are setup to counter punch any team and they are adept on capitalising on their opponents mistakes as evident against arsenal. Vardy’s running off defenders shoulder is simply problematic to any highline defence. Its unfortunate that Drinkwater was absent or any other midfielder that could find him with a through pass. They tried it once in the second half but this approach needs to be repeated over and over again. Playing to your strengths will always yield results.
It was a defensive mentality all the time. The manager didn’t change their approach as their circumstances changed and also when Arsenal made changes to their shape and tactics.
Same O Arsene Wenger. He won the game but it was evident that he was ill prepared yet again. The same problems from last season and over the years have reared their ugly heads yet again. After the whole pre-season and players are not available yet again, defensive mistakes, GK positioning was poor, Cech’s inclusion is this team needs to be seriously reviewed. A huge mistake was made in selling Szczesny, Arsenal will feel it more if he ends up becoming world class some day. Holding running with the ball when he should be playing a limited defender role (FM players will understand what I mean here). Ozil should have been subbed first half for Iwobi due to poor match fitness but played the whole game. Bellerin is too Gong Ho and wasnt playing any attention to his defensive responsibilities. It is evident that there are some untouchables in this Arsenal squad. This will play out through the season (watch the space). Ox was immense today, it is imperative wenger doesn’t upset him. His best position in this team is right wind back why is he playing on the left. Bellerin isn’t that effective. Steve Bould seemed evidently troubled with what he was seeing but you can tell he is a scared or gagged assistant. What is the point of having a job, if you can’t do the job properly. So sad. This team will not win the league nor Europa if drastic measures are not made. In fact, I can categorically say nothing has changed with this Arsenal team. With Arsene’s level of experience having been in the EPL for over 20 years, the resources available at the club, the elaborate pre-season tournaments ,the salary being paid, there should be no excuses for this level of deficiencies.
The team responded well, came back to win from a losing position. Lacazete scored in his first game, that monkey is off his back. A very good start and is looking ready to go. Too early to assess if hes a good signing or not but from his movement and touch he looks like a good addition but the jury is still out. Sead Kolasinac also had a solid performance on his debut. He provided an assist, looked solid at the back and also going forward. He tested the keeper and showed he wasn’t scared to shoot when some of his teammates seemed to be guilty of just that. Elneny showed arsenal are capable of direct attacking play, Arsenal have a good record converting set pieces with the likes of Giroud, Kosielny and others. Their best player in Alexis Sanchez wasn’t playing so they are not a one man team. Giroud knack of scoring when he comes off the bench, Ramseys effectiveness off the bench as well means they have an effective squad. Better defenders are on their way with the likes of Kosielny, Mustafi and Gabriel to help sure up the back line. o
Scored 3 goals away from home and still lost. Better defending required from them. Set piece defending was very poor. This squad won the premier league two seasons ago, where is the fight of Champions. They should be able to hold a lead against Arsenal. Riyadh Mahrez’s future needs to be address or his lack of focus will be detrimental to the team as a whole. He looks like a shadow of he’s former self. Midfield was not effective enough. Its not a coincidence that they say win the midfield win the game. Finally Shakespheare needs to be more proactive to opposition tactics.
Jamie Vardy and Okazaki seemed to have started where they left of last season and in their title lifting season. Schmeichel made some very descent saves but needs help from his teammates. The team were very effective in capitalising on their opponents mistakes, this makes me believe that they wont be in a relegation fight this season if they put things right for their next game.
Cech 5.5 Schmeichel 6.5
Holding 5.5 Simpson 6.0
Monreal 6.0 Morgan 6.0
Kolasinac 7.0 Maguire 6.5
Bellerin 5.5 Fuchs 6.0
Elneny 6.5 Mahrez 5.5
Xhaka 7.0 Ndidi 6.0
Oxlade-Chamberlain 7.0 James 6.0
Welbeck 7.0 Albrighton 6.5
Ozil 5.5 Okaza ki 7.0
Lacazette 7.0 Vardy 7.5
Ramsey 7.0 Amartey 6.0
Giroud 7.0 Gary 6.0
Walcott 5.5 Iheanacho 6.0