Monday, August 11, 2014

Community Shield etc

I haven't written in a week or so, and my only excuse is that I am now an employed lawyer. This week is still relatively okay, but next week onwards it's going to be late nights/early mornings at work. If only I could write about Arsenal all day long, and go for matches, and tweet...Oh what a life that would be.

Anyway, so we've now won the Community Shield again after a really long time, and that's of course a reason to be happy. The fact that we hammered Manchester City is an even better reason to be happy. While the Community Shield is only a peg above a friendly, and even lower than the Capital One Cup in terms of its value, yesterday's match was still a good indicator of where the current Arsenal squad is in terms of its fitness and preparedness before the season officially starts next weekend. 

Before getting into larger consequences, a little on the 3-0 whopping which those Manchester Sheikhs received. We started excellently it must be said, and the first half half was full of possibility. Of course Manchester City had a somewhat make shift defence with Clichy, Kolarov, Boyata and Nastastic, while the rest of their squad could have started any Premier League match. It had the usual Yaya Toure, Dzeko, Nasri, Navas, and apparently an in form Jovetic. So all those saying that City had a horribly weakened team are somewhat off the mark since we were missing three of our guaranteed starters in Ozil, Mertesacker and Walcott. Perhaps the City players didn't really care, perhaps Yaya Toure was still dreaming about his birthday cake. Not really our fault. Our midfield trio of Arteta, Wilshere and Ramsey bossed Toure and Fernando, and we were definitely a class above City.

The first goal was a classic Cazorla goal, where he got the ball from Sanogo, did a Cazorla-esque trick and powered low into the right corner. Our second goal scorer of the night was of course Aaron Ramsey. Wilshere let Sanchez loose with a nice pass, who further passed to Sanogo. Sanogo nicely held up the ball for Ramsey to enter the box, make use of a fantastic first touch and score the second of the night. At half time Sanchez (who while showing some deft touches and good running, still didn't seem exactly match fit) and Sanogo (who had an average match but still managed to play a part in two goals) were replaced by Chamberlain and Giroud. The tempo dropped in the second half, and we had an organised performance rather than a continuance of the jubilant first half. Then Giroud scored an absolute belter, and it was game over for City.

In terms of performances, everyone had a great night. Chambers played at Centre Back again, and it must be said that I'm delighted with our 19 year old. He was strong, good in the air, and read the game rather well for a teenager. His versatility makes him a really good prospect, and on the basis of what we've seen so far, he can definitely slot in when either Koscielny or Mertesacker need a break. Debuchy had a really good competitive debut, and led some nice attacks down the right hand side. Although he was largely untroubled defensively, he did make a fine block to prevent that Nasri fellow from scoring. Our midfield trio of course bossed their city counterparts. Ramsey of course has been at a top level for a really long time, but yesterday Wilshere showed glimpses of coming back to his best. He was authoritative, distributed the ball well and seemed to play like a person who knows it's time to perform. 

I really hope Wilshere makes it this season. Last season was one of progress, and this season he must move forward from there. Of course to expect Ramsey levels of improvement would be ridiculous. But if Wilshere can consistently play without getting injured, he would give the manager a definite selection dilemma. As of now his position in the squad isn't exactly fixed, or assured for that matter. But if a Ramsey-Wilshere partnership can work, it's going to be a stable one for years to come. On a slightly negative note, Koscielny had a slight injury and he might miss the start of the season. That means we definitely need a new central defender since Vermaelen has also departed, and Monreal is a left back. 

Which brings me to Vermaelen. I think we all knew he was going to leave this summer. To be a club captain, in the prime of his career and barely get a match must be infuriating. To Vermaelen's credit, he was completely professional, and never whined or echoed his frustrations in public. Mertesacker and Koscielny are our best defensive partnership, and Vermaelen simply wasn't good enough to displace either of the two. Despite the fact that he barely played last year, he now has a 5 year contract at Barcelona, one of the best clubs in the world, where in all likelihood he's guaranteed to start. It's fantastic for him, and while he isn't good as our current starters, he still remains a pretty good defender. I suppose everyone should wish him the best of luck, and I do hope he succeeds at Barcelona. He did leave a nice message for Arsenal and the fans, and as it turns out he was the first Arsenal captain since Vieira to lift a trophy. 

All said and done, we've had a pretty short pre-season because of the World Cup, and while we still have one or two question marks about places, the team by and large seems fit and raring to go. Which is excellent, since I haven't seen Arsenal play competitively since several months. The World Cup was excellent, but as one of those guys on Arsenal Fan TV stated 'it's all about the league munnn' (the same guy who said Giroud shouldn't do 'poom poom' before matches).

Till next time. 

PS: Sorry for the slightly dyslexic post and a complete lack of structure. Was reading up on contract drafting while writing the post. Oh the life of a lawyer.