I have to admit that I had some serious reservations about Howard Webb presiding over the opening match of the Premier League and the kickoff to the whole “Get on with the game” campaign; his track record reffing over Arsenal matches is dismal to say the least. With 8 losses in 17 matches (most of them spectacular blow ups to boot) you’d think that the FA would have the same reservations about Webb that the Arsenal fans do.
Fortunately, like all my other “feelings” on football, they were proven wrong: Webb had a decent game and Arsenal got the win.
So, I guess, without any further ado, I’ll just give my Good, Bad, and Ugly.
Nasri gets the first goal of the new season, on his debut, and he joins George Graham, Jimmy Brain, Ian Wright, Gilberto, and Ljungberg as Arsenal luminaries who scored on their debut. Plus, this kid is not afraid to shoot: he’s already taken more shots and scored more goals than Hleb did in three years at Arsenal. It is a tremendous way to start the new season.
Eboue in defensive midfield. Setanta gave Eboue a 5.5 probably because his two shots on goal were awful, but I was tremendously impressed with Eboue at the holding midfield spot. It’s way too early to tell but could this be another master stroke by the professor? Eboue’s work rate makes him a natural for that spot but still, who’d have thunk it? I almost wonder if the idea came to Wenger in a dream or something. Maybe he had that planned all along?
The replacements in general are really impressive. What other team in the world could lose their starting central midfield pair and still play so impressively? Or how about their first and second choice center half? It really is a testament to Wenger’s system.
Speaking of replacements, Djourou did a great job in the center of defense, played his heart out, saved a goal, and all that despite Gallas’ tirade against him. If he keeps playing like that, I think we can all say “Phillipe, who?”
Finally, Howard Webb didn’t screw Arsenal over. I guess that’s good.
Walcott had a rough game, not because he didn’t work hard enough, but more because his teammates don’t seem to know how to use him. There were a ton of passes that were too long for him, in the wrong spot, or just plain poor. That and his inability to deliver a good ball to his strike partners and he looked like he was really struggling.
What happened to van Persie? News sources say he was “rested” but he did come on in the 70th minute for Bendtner, and he had one insane shot where he tried to curl the ball into the net off the outside of he left foot. But apart from that, RvP looked pretty poor.
Finally, what position was it that Toure was supposedly playing? Right wing? Huh? You know the squad is thin when Kolo Toure is used as a right wing sub.
Despite his flashes of brilliance, Adebayor had one of the ugliest games I’ve seen from him in an Arsenal uniform. His passes were poor, and there was a stretch at the beginning of the second half where he missed two very clear chances and then got an offside call. It was as if he decided to prove all of his detractors right all at once. It would only have been uglier if he had scored and immediately turned around and asked for a new contract.
And finally, there was a moment when Gallas went absolutely mental. I think what happened was he called for Djourou to step up and spring the offside trap and Djourou didn’t do it. It nearly led to a goal, but fortunately, Djourou has the pure athleticism and mental awareness needed to get back and block the shot off the line. Alumunia saw what had happened and went over and thanked his defender, but Gallas went absolutely ape-shit. He started screaming at Djourou and carrying on, then when Almunia went over to break it up, Gallas started screaming at him too. It was one of the ugliest scenes I’ve seen an Arsenal player engage in, and I can’t remember a captain ever acting like that. The captain needs to be the glue that holds the team together, not the wedge that drives them apart. Moreover, he needs to teach the lads, and screaming at them after they just made a critical clearance is the 100% wrong way to teach someone something. I have to wonder what it will take for Wenger to reconsider Gallas as captain?
And that’s it for today, more analysis tomorrow. It’s a great day, I’m going to get some sun and hang out with the family, plus… Arsenal won 1-0. Patrick is singing 1-0 to the Arsenal right now, I can hear it…
That other top four team lost 2-1 to a very impressive Middlesboro team. Boro looked very good on their debut, Tottenham looked, well, they looked like a load of Tottenham.