If you watched the Queen City Gooners Facebook Live Show before the match against Southampton, you saw how excited we were that Arsenal made some late signings at the close of the transfer window and we were eager to see them play their first match in that famous Arsenal red. It's hard not to be excited when we finally spent some money on players, and ones that are designed to fill holes in our squad. My prediction of 3-0 was optimistic and probably overly so, but I was hoping that our new boys would get off the ground running and start our title chase against Southampton.
What resulted wasn't what a lot of us were looking for but it was expected coming into the first game back from an international break and with a game against PSG looming the distance. It wasn't exactly a bad performance but it wasn't a stellar one either. It was alarming that it took another penalty from Cazorla to win the match but hey a win is a win. Our midfield looked lost as Cazorla, Coquelin and Ozil weren't on the same page at all. The forwards drifted around without much purpose and weren't getting the service from midfield. Our defense was solid however, and really only let a few chances for the Southampton offense. The goal came from a set piece and it unluckily came off of Cech so I am willing to write that one off. Aside from an early horrible pass, Mustafi played well alongside Koscielny and our fullbacks were on point. Kos' work rate is phenomenal and he deserved that amazing overhead kick goal. If you haven't seen it, stop reading, look it up and come back. I'll wait...
I didn't watch the match against PSG because I am unable to watch at work and I forgot to DVR it according to the reports I read, it wasn't worth my time anyway. I read a lot of angry posts from fans but as annoying as not winning is, a draw away to a team like PSG is not a bad result. We will have to bring our A game against the remaining teams in the group stage and avoid another fiasco in the group stages that leaves us second and facing Barcelona or Bayern Munich. Just like the league, Arsenal are more than capable of winning it but we cannot afford to make stupid mistakes or take a mental holiday. Wenger likes to boast about making the Round of 16 every year but we never advance, its like a formality, even a joke sometimes. For once, can we make a statement? Players like Ozil, Alexis, and Koscielny don't play to make the round of 16. They play to be competitive in the big stage and Arsene needs to realize that his experiments don't always work and forcing them isn't going to get us anywhere.
Watching Alexis at striker is a prime example. All of the things we like about Alexis are wasted when he plays striker. We don't play to his strengths in that position. I have said this before that we always play our strikers as if Giroud is there. Alexis is not a “hold the ball and wait for attackers” kind of striker. He is a dribbler and a shooter, he plays better facing the goal, not with his back to it. As such he moves too freely and we are often left with a gap in the center that nobody fills. The free roaming Alexis is why we like him. Walcott suffers from this same problem as did Podolski. These are players that are not suited for the role that Wenger expects out of our strikers. I am hoping that with the signing of Perez, Wenger is planning on altering our attack strategy when Giroud is not playing. Having several attack styles is beneficial because our opponents may not be set up for one or the other. Too often we have seen our attack fail, because we focus on the passing game and trying too hard to replicate all those perfect pass goals like the Wilshere goal against Norwich. Throw in a shot from an acute angle or a 25 yard shot outside the box. Work the keepers more. You cannot score if all you do is pass and never take a shot. I am not condoning shooting all the time, but we often bang our heads on the table at the pub as we watch a scoring chance dissipate because we tried a pass across the mouth of the goal instead of just shooting.
Another gripe I have been seeing is the anger over the lack of Xhaka's place in the starting XI. I agree to an extent. He is a player bought for a very important role and to not see him play is aggravating. If you weren't going to utilize him in the match against the Saints, then why didn't he play against PSG? He is fit enough to be on the team sheet, then he is fit enough to play. At the same time, we get irritated when Wenger experiments too much so if the team changes too drastically and we lose, then he will be blamed for not picking the normal starters. I am not letting Wenger off the hook, I am simply playing devil's advocate here. I do agree that Xhaka should be playing but Coquelin and Cazorla are not bad players and should be able to do more. This is a team game and the team is at fault too. If we tossed a 16 year old kid in the defensive midfield role and he makes a mistake that is one thing, but these are experienced players who we know are can play well. Cazorla has been monumental and Coquelin's arrival really helped us out. He is a veteran player now. Xhaka will have to fight for his place to start and Coquelin, El Neny and others will have to fight to earn their spot as well. This is a good thing for the club. We have not lost since opening day. We drew to the champions and to PSG. The sky is not falling yet. These signings will have their day and due to the midweek game, I am pretty confident Xhaka will make an appearance against Hull this weekend. We have to be patient and that's a hard ask for Arsenal fans. We have been asked to be patient for a long time now. We want results and we want them now. The season is still young.
Sorry for the short post but as I missed the Champions League match I just want to get back to the league and see our Gunners get on scoring form.
Goonerfest is around the corner. So please keep an eye on the Facebook group and your email if you are on the mailing list. If you are not please go to our website www.queencitygooners.com and sign up. We have a bunch of fun events planned with groups across the Carolinas attending to make this an amazing event. Be a part of the fun!
Also we have the Facebook Live Show, starting 30 minutes before each match so if you can't be at the pub, tune in and send questions that we can answer live on air. We also like the live audience so if you do come down to the pub, feel free to sit down and have a listen.
Come on you Gunners!