It was an entertaining match played on arguably the worst pitch I’ve seen in the last few years. We weren’t at our best but we still managed to get out of Istanbul Volcano undefeated. 0:0 is an active result for both sides – there is no away goal that would give the advantage to the visitors and there is no advantage for the hosts before the second leg. Here are key pointers from the game.
1.It is too early for the Aaron Ramsey-Jack Wilshere combination.
As Derrick has already pointed out there is lack of chemistry between Ramsey and Wilshere. They both have a tendency to go forward using the same down-the-middle route and that leaves our team unbalanced. Now, at some point, I believe the two of them can and will eventually forge a strong partnership that will make opponents crap their pants in a way Xavi and Iniesta used to win games for Barcelona before kick-off. Then again, Xavi hadn’t found his best form until he was 28 and Iniesta was 24.
2.Hopefully it’s not a false dawn for Nacho Monreal.
The Spaniard was rather poor last term especially against big teams but it seems that he has found his form again. He has done well so far and that should prevent Kieran Gibbs’ regular injuries from having a devastating effect on our defending. Our next match against Everton will be a great test for Nacho – he gave one of the worst performances for Arsenal at Goodison Park in April and this is an opportunity for him to prove that he can perform in big matches as well.
3.I can’t wait to see Mesut Özil back in our team.
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The German has been heavily missed lately because Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere underpeformed against both Crystal Palace and Bešiktaš. The Spaniard didn’t create enough from the left wing while the Englishman failed to impose himself. Things should go uphill when Mesut Özil occupies the place in the hole. The German will add more directness to our passing game and create chances more often than both Wilshere and Cazorla combined. Combination of Özil’s through balls and Alexis’ pace sounds exciting.
4.Theo Walcott is another that we miss.
Alexis’ performances have followed the same pattern so far – a lot of hard-work, a demonstration of pace and dribbling that weren’t followed with a final product and moments when he was neutralized by our opponents. It might be due to a lack of balance in our attack – Alexis is the only winger with pace so our opponents can focus on him like Bešiktaš did in the second half. When Walcott returns, our attack will be a nightmare for everyone as we will have two speedy, dangerous wingers.
5.Second leg will be tough, not only because Ramsey and Arteta are out.
Slaven Bilić may not be on the touchline but his influence will be visible on the pitch. He knows how to prepare his team against the favourites – he has managed to beat England (twice) and Germany with Croatia while his EURO 2012 campaign saw the Croatians almost pass through the group stage despite being drawn with finalists Spain and Italy. His tactics against Spain could have spawned a huge surprise hadn’t Iker Casillas saved Ivan Rakitić’s header from point-blank range when the score-line was 0:0.
6.Chambers doesn’t let mistakes ruin his night.
The English youngster made a mistake that nearly gave a goal to Demba Ba but after that his game was as solid as you want it to be. He is a huge talent and with some years under his belt he might become one of the most respected defenders in the game. Or right full-backs. Or defensive midfielders. Or whatever he wants to become.
Now, there is a game against Everton today before we face Bešiktaš again. We should get our revenge and prove our quality in big away matches this season.