An aquitance of mine who happens to be a huge Hajduk Split fan – let’s call him Dado – had to wait for almost 30 years to watch his beloved club live in the stands. Unfortunately for Dado, he didn’t make a very good choice of the game to watch – Inter Zaprešić won in Split 4:1 despite being huge underdogs leading up to the game. My friend described the look on Dado’s face after the game by saying: “He looked like Claudia Schiffer was inviting him to bed and he couldn’t do the job.”
I didn’t find the strength to look into the mirror after today’s game but I’m pretty positive the look on my face was exactly the same even from behind a television screen. After such a promising summer our players spoiled everything by dropping three big points at home.
Here are the key points from the game.
1.Petr Čech’s debut at the Emirates was a mare.
Everyone will talk about this and it’s not like Čech didn’t deserve it. His reactions for Kouyate’s goal were terrible and he wasn’t either prepared or well-positioned to do something about Zarate’s shot. Čech is a goalkeeper that we expect to make the difference. Ironically, that’s exactly what he did today. Of course, that doesn’t mean Čech is not a world-class goalkeeper. He most certainly is and there are a lot of points he will save us.
2.Laurent Koscielny had a number of problems too.
Koscielny wasn’t on his usual level either. He nearly gifted a third goal to West Ham and Sakho looked too strong for him. Not a performance to write home about.
3.Francis Coquelin is a Makelele, not Zidane.
The Frenchman’s attempts to create attacks didn’t pan out well. His passes went anywhere but on target. He simply has to accept that he is a defensive midfielder, a master of interceptions and that’s what he’s supposed to do.
4.Aaron Ramsey’s decisions in the final third were poor.
Rambo didn’t have the best day at the office either. The worst moment of his game washis attempt to shoot even if he could have easily picked out Debuchy on the right.
5.Santi Cazorla failed to show up.
We did not see anything from our little magician. The Spaniard made a few bad calls in the final third as he wasn’t quick enough with his passing.
6.Mesut Özil failed to make an impression.
When you are the most expensive player in the history of the club, you are expected to step up when it matters, to be a game-changer. The German No. 10 is yet to prove he is one. Today was no exception even when his direct counter-part was a 16-year-old Reece Oxford. Yes, he did create a chance for Alexis in the last minutes of the game but it’s not enough. He has to step up ASAP.
7.Two is a company, three is a crowd.
I’ve been going on and on about how we can’t afford to play Cazorla, Ramsey and Özil in the same line-up, at least not when Giroud is our central forward. This game proved that one of those three midfielders is surplus in the starting eleven. It’s the same problem we have had since April but Wenger doesn’t show any intention to correct it.
8.Alexis is not ready yet.
The fact Arsene Wenger brought the Chilean into the game says a lot about how desperate we were today. However, the Chilean didn’t look sharp enough to make the difference even if he did make our attack more dangerous. Hopefully he’ll be ready for the game against Crystal Palace because…
9.Neither Giroud nor Walcott can win the league.
It seems that I will have to apologize to Mr Thierry Henry. He was right, we can’t win the league with our current attackers. We need a world-class striker ASAP, someone who is going to pull their weight and inspire the rest of the team when things are not going our way.
Olivier Giroud, with all his link-up play, strength and intelligence, is a limited striker. His pace is only going to start to decline at the age of 29 and his mobility (or lack there of it) complicates things for the rest of our attack.
Theo Walcott, with all his pace, still has issue with decisions in the final third and you can’t learn size at the age of 26.
10.Oxlade-Chamberlain’s biggest flaw came to haunt us again.
If there was a player that looked lively going forward today, it was Oxlade-Chamberlain. The problem is, his biggest flaw made us pay once again. He lost the ball just outside the box and it isn’t the first time Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attempt to bring the ball forward from the deep has been very expensive. Monaco anyone? The Englishman needs to iron this habit out of his game.
Our next game is against Crystal Palace away. If we give a heartless, gutless and brainless performance (we pretty much surrendered after Zarate’s goal) like the one today, we will lose again.