Saturday, August 16, 2008
Arsenal labour to the win, but win nonetheless.
Ah, football. So nice to have you back. Having not been able to see the entirety of the Twente match - not a bad thing from the sound of it - this was my season opener.
And didn't it open in a lovely fashion? Nice work by Clichy led to a precise pass by Denilson and a smooth finish from Nasri.
It was about a good a debut as you'll see from young Samir. He held the ball up well, made a number of penetrating passes, was strong when pushed about by the oppositon, and made his finish look easier than it was. Moreover, lord be praised, he actually showed a proclivity to take shots on goal. How much you can tell about anyone from one game is debatable, but he looked tidy, elegant, strong and dangerous. He looks more of a threat than Hleb, already. But then I suppose that isn't saying much. A bit of pace is perhaps his only notable failing.
The rest of the team, after Sammy's goal, took the usual Arsenal option - endless passing, squandered opportunity, and a domination of the game which always looked like it might be threatened by a breakaway Brummie goal.
So, in the end, we were hanging on; something which was faintly ridiculous given our overall superiority.
Yet, overall, I was impressed by the team today.
Eboue was, and I say this with a considerable degree of trepidation, good in central midfield. He can pass the ball sideways and backwards, so taking away the attacking responsibilities he usually has allowed to concentrate on some neat link work. His shooting was utterly abysmal though, so let's hope Arsene doesn't continue the experiment too much longer.
Denilson was neat and tidy, and possibly has a bit more too him than I thought. Djourou was good in the middle, and still looks like he has more potential than Senderos. The whole back four did ok, but still gifted the Brummies a few too many opportunities.
The two low-lights for me were Theo and Ade. Theo looked low on confidence and ideas. He didn't even seem to be relying on his usual pace to get by defenders and contributed very little to the team and result.
Ade also showed the worst aspects of his performance: poor finishing, an awful first touch, and poor decision-making. Still, the boos I did hear in the stadium were out of order, and I certainly won't stoop to that level.
The fans too: if you can't find someone to take your season ticket, use the ticket exchange. And why were people leaving early at 2.30 on a Saturday afternoon? A poor level of support, I must say.
So, it's good to start the season with a win and a clean-sheet. But whether we can kick on from this remains to be seen.