Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Arsenal Pull No Punches in Opening Fixture
Morning all. No chance to write a blog yesterday. Too many non-Arsenal related things happening in my life. Fortunately I got to see the match in it's entirety, and overall I think we did well. There will be those who say we could have done better, but it's important to remember there are no easy road fixtures in the Champion's League. In a match that was a tale of two halves, we left Montpelier with three points and at the end of the day, that's all that matters.
One thing that surprised me a little was the squad selection. We definitely weren't looking to pull any punches in our opening match. A squad like that is meant to go out and make sure we have all three points. I was inclined to think that Wenger might use guys like Santos, Ramsey, Djourou; players that haven't seen much (or any) time on the pitch so far this season, in order to rest our first choice players for Manchester City. But that wasn't the case, and in hindsight, I'm relieved we had our top guys out there. Montpelier came to win that match and certainly had their chances on us.
We got off to a poor start, and with a little help from the refs, found ourselves down a goal very early. I feel like Diaby's yellow was unjustified, especially that early-on in the match. He clearly had a piece of the ball and although it was awkward looking, Diaby is a somewhat awkwardly shaped footballer. Any sliding challenge from him is going to look like a lot of legs and studs. For me, it was a foul and no more.
As for the goal, I suppose it was a penalty, but again, it was so early in the match, and that's a call the refs will refuse to make 9 times out of 10. Especially in a Champion's League fixture. To make it worse, Belhanda stepped up to the spot and chipped it on Mannone. I hate goals scored on penalties to begin with, and cheeky shit like that really annoys me.
Evidently it annoyed Arsenal as well because they came back and lashed Montpelier with two quick goals. Podolski scored a confident left footer on a beautiful ball in from Giroud, and Gervinho made it 1-2 on a ball in from Jenkinson that rivaled the best passes of the match. Jenkinson's cross was so good, Gervinho simply couldn't have missed had he tried. 20 minutes into the match I was thinking we might get 6 more goals. The French side was definitely rocking on it's foundation for the rest of the half, but Arsenal went to the locker room without inflicting any further damage.
The second half was a different story. It was offensively uneventful for the Gunners, and defensively, a little on the nervy side. Montpelier had several chances to equalize and probably should have. Mannone and the defense were forced into action a few more times than I'd have liked, but again, the end result is what matters, and we can head back to London feeling pretty good about ourselves.
I give my MOTM to Jenkinson, who's brilliant pass would prove to be the game winning assist. I continue to be impressed by the play of our defense, especially the fullbacks. It seems like ages since we've started the same four defenders, five games in a row. Jenkinson and Gibbs have been sound on defense, and tactical around the opponent's penalty area. It's been 450 minutes of football, and we've conceded two goals; one on a circus-job from Szczęsny, and the other on a questionable penalty kick. Not easy to do when you've got a pair of young fullbacks with license to get forward.
That's about all I've got for you. Let me know what you guys thought of the match. Focus definitely shifts to Manchester City now. This is a huge match. We've done well, but are we a side that can contend with City? We'll definitely start turning some heads if we get another good result this weekend. Back tomorrow with my predicted XI for that match. Thanks for reading.