Arsenal 1 – 1 Chelsea (Arsenal win 6 – 5 on penalties)
The old and the new collided in Dublin but it was reassuring to find we’re not the only club whose first team will wear a crap kit. That said, I’m not sure the observation carries that much weight.
“Defending at the corner for their goal was rubbish.”
“Yeah, but the state of their kit…”
Chelsea’s goal came from poor marking at a corner. Smith-Rowe made the mistake of letting Rudiger go free but even with Ramsey there instead, the German is still scoring. The design for marking at corners is questionable. Rudiger is several inches taller than ESR so why that marking pattern? We invited trouble and went a goal down.
It should have been a lot worse. Cech couldn’t save a penalty to save his life until he shrivelled Troy Deeney’s cojones. Now, it’s par for the course with the ever-abject Alvaro Morata becoming his latest victim. The spot-kick came about courtesy of Bellerin’s foul on Hudson-Odoi.
From the first minute, the youngster’s searing pace exposed Bellerin. Whether the Spaniard is carrying a knock or is in bad shape is unclear but something is clearly not right with him. Maybe the three matches in a week at this stage of the summer is too much for him?
Given the care with which we’re treating other players, it would be a surprise if he played with an injury. Ramsey missed out with calf-knack while Kolasinac came off after turning his knee. No chances taken with either so why would Bellerin be treated differently? He wouldn’t is the answer.
The back four raises concerns given the pace of Manchester City’s attack. A high defensive line left us exposed and Chelsea exploited the space. Sokratis isn’t quick enough to play that tactic and Mustafi isn’t consistent enough.
One Remaining Transfer
Looking at the central defenders, that may be the only position we must seriously consider signing one more player. There is a dearth of talent on the market though. Yerry Mina’s eye-catching goals can’t disguise the fact he’s being let go by Barcelona six months after joining. His positioning at set-pieces is good but he was susceptible to pace in attack. There’s a flaw there – which we saw glimpses of at the World Cup – but is that down to the club/country style of play?
It’s a tricky decision for the management team to make. Emery & Co are working on the overall picture but they won’t have failed to notice problems most laymen saw. Their job is finding the solution.
Cech performed the role of sweeper keeper reasonably well, given his distribution remains an ongoing concern. Leno on the basis of that tactic seems a better choice as the first-choice goalkeeper. However, it is a pleasant change to have two goalkeepers who seem on the ball.
I’m not naive enough to think Cech’s weaknesses are miraculously solved; far from it. The arrival of Leno is beneficial in that sense though. Cech is determined to fight for his place in the last year of his contract and that will keep the German on his toes as well.
In midfield, Guendouzi looked good again. Lost the ball on several occasions through youth’s impetuosity and was caught out of position as well. Despite that, his promise is evident and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a competitive match. Friendlies are good for bedding into the squad, but the pace of English football is very much faster than anything he’s been involved in thus far.
Questions and Answers
Up front, the decision over Lacazette, Aubameyang and everything else seems up in the air. We looked better in the second half but was that an overall improvement or the change in personnel? Based on the pre-season so far, my preference is both to start and that may become easier to resolve if Emery looks at last night and thinks we have to play with a back five to cover the deficiencies.
Mkhitaryan’s sluggish pre-season continues. The pressing game ought to be second nature to him but dazed and confused is a better description. It is as if he is bewildered by the change in tactics. We’ll see if that improves at the weekend or against Manchester City.
Ultimately, Emery will learn more from that fixture than from gubbing PSG 5 – 1. We ‘enjoyed’ the majority of the possession but were chasing our tails for most of the game. It’s the old way in a new outlook which must be addressed quickly.
With ten days to go, there is a lot of work to be done. New thinking after years of knowing exactly what the manager wants is tough to adapt to. Some of the squad have more work to do in that respect than others.