We dropped two points, we lost two, maybe even three midfielders for some time to injuries, the referee didn’t sanction at least one dangerous tackle as a red card on Özil, there is a whole conspiracy theory about Mertesacker’s phantom goal that might have happened. In any case, it wasn’t a match that should be remembered as a good one for us despite the fact we did give a fine performance and should have won the game. Here are the key pointers from the game.
1.Injuries are piling on early this season…
Last term we weren’t injury-depleted before winter. This term, it seems impossible that we will have a fully fit squad at all. Not only do we have Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud on the sidelines – now we have to deal with injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere with two huge games – against Galatasaray and Chelsea – ahead of us. The Welshman and the Spaniard are confirmed absentees for both the aforementioned fixtures and Wilshere is a doubt for Galatasaray. Whether it’s Wenger’s fault – we have always had a worse season after a big international tournament than the one before it – or Shad Forsythe’s training methods haven’t been fully accepted by our players is a rather irrelevant. Something has to be done to keep our title challenge alive.
2….and in a bizarre turn of events, they saved us from Wenger’s mistakes…
Mesut Özil has struggled on the left wing and has done well in the No.10 role. For some reason, Arsene Wenger stubbornly wants to play Özil down the left flank even if the German doesn’t offer anything to our defence and is a lot more ineffective in the attack than when he plays down the middle. Alexis Sánchez had been on the bench for over an hour but soon after he was introduced, he was involved in our equalizer. With injuries limiting his options, both Sanchez and Ozil should now be able to start in their favoured positions.
3….except for one of them.
Mikel Arteta’s injury forced Wenger to introduce Mathieu Flamini. Flamini was one of the heroes in our victory in the same fixture last term – he had to replace Jack Wilshere who had health issues prior to the match. Flamini’s introduction, however, didn’t help on Saturday – he made a mistake that led to Chadli’s goal. He wasn’t quick enough to release the ball and wasn’t strong enough to keep it from the opponent. No matter how much I like Flamini’s aggression and willingness to put in a tackle when no other Arsenal player would, it was another example how much we need a proper defensive midfielder. Whether it’s going to be Abou Diaby or someone who is not at Arsenal at this moment is another thing.
4.Welbeck should try to get into situations where he can score without relying too much on his shooting technique.
Danny Welbeck has shown a lot of quality so far – he is an exciting striker as he showed in the first half against Spuds when he made a brilliant turn to beat his marker before making a sprint that wasn’t rewarded with a goal only because of Kaboul’s insane performance. However, Welbeck’s shooting is something that has frustrated me so far. We’ve already seen air-balls, shots that end over the bar or wide. It seems like his biggest strengths – pace and ability to use his body to beat the marker – should be used to avoid any need of shooting – rounding the goalkeeper and tap-ins might be the best options for Welbeck when he is inside the opponents’ box.
5.Mesut Özil can lead us to glory.
The German was unplayable in the second half. He was looking for the ball, he was there to get fouls from Spuds and to create space for his team-mates. There will be a huge burden on his back – Aaron Ramsey is out for the clash against Chelsea so Özil will have to give his best performance in an Arsenal shirt to give Jose Mourinho a hard time. If there is a player that can produce magic in the Arsenal team, it’s Özil – he can find the gaps in any defence in the world and with pacey options like Welbeck, Alexis and Chamberlain, Mourinho might recall what kind of player he had managed back in Real Madrid.
6.Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should score more goals than he has so far…
If there is anything I believe in, it’s Chamberlain’s ability to become one of the best English players in the last 20 years. His ability to beat the opponent, strength, the bursting runs he can make…should be enough for at least ten goals per season. However, Chamberlain hasn’t been the most prolific guy around and it’s a bit of a surprise that he hasn’t been under pressure to deliver goals like Jack Wilshere has been even if Wilshere has played in a much more deeper role than Chamberlain. Chamberlain can score goals and it’s time for him to do so – with Theo Walcott on the sidelines, we need goals from his deputy and The Ox needs goals to keep his place in the starting eleven.
7….especially with Calum Chambers as his side-kick.
A lot of Arsenal opponents might get “Chambered” in the future as our axis down the right flank Chambers-Chamberlain has already shown. Spuds couldn’t deal with them and had the game lasted for at least five more minutes (as it should have had due to shocking time-wasting by the visitors), perhaps we would have seen at last one more goal from one of our Chambos. Both Calum Chambers and Chamberlain were a joy to watch.
8.Calum Chambers must be careful against Chelsea though.
Last time we played Chelsea we were done in by their wingers who used the fact our full-backs were standing too high on the pitch and Andre Marriner’s poor decision to show a red card to Kieran Gibbs instead of Chamberlain. Now, Chambers is still young and inexperienced – there is a huge possibility that he might stay too high on the pitch and make a foul that would lead to a red card. He’ll have to try to make sure neither of those things happen.
9.Referees don’t protect our players.
There was a foul on Özil that deserved a red card. Unfortunately, Michael Oliver didn’t see it that way. It was a dangerous tackle that could have ended with a broken leg for the German. Jack Wilshere’s problems with the referees who don’t believe he is fouled are well-known. It’s no wonder our players get injured on a regular basis.
Next stop – Galatasaray in Champions’ League. We have to win it in order to stay in the race for the top spot in the group. They’ve beaten us in the UEFA Cup Final 2000 and in the Emirates Cup 2013 – we have something to settle!