Four Goals, Nice Football – An Enjoyable Start To Preseason

I was really looking forward to this game as I’m sure most of you were as well. And I must say it was quite a start to the pre-season. In the last five seasons we haven’t really been this convincing in this fixture. Perhaps, it’s to do with the fact that Barnet are undergoing some changes and weren’t that good, but our first half performance was a real joy.

The first goal came in ninety seconds or so and I’m not sure a Barnet player got a touch before that was scored. The ball was played around between a few players as everyone was getting acclimatized to the pitch and conditions when out of nowhere Arshavin showed a burst of energy, played a neat one-two with Rosicky, and calmly wrong footed the keeper before hitting the back of an empty goal.

It could have been a riot after that as Barnet were hesitant and somewhat unorganized. I must commend them for trying to play the ball out of the defence and for generally keeping the physical side of the game under check. They couldn’t however keep the ball for a sustained period or build any meaningful attacks.

Bulk of the credit for breaking up play and establishing Arsenal’s dominance in midfield goes to the youngster Emmanuel Frimpong. He looked bigger, stronger, and faster than what he did with the reserves and youth sides last year. I was really impressed by his reading of the game and tackling. One particular tackle on the edge of the Arsenal box was simply breathtaking. He does have some room for improvement in his passing but I’d rate him as big a defensive talent as Wilshere was an attacking one this time last year.

Speaking of Wilshere, I must acknowledge the improvements in his game. Starting in a midfield role he showed some nice touches and close control. He’s always been strong for his stature and did well to hold the ball under some challenges. His intelligent run and selfless, inch perfect assist set up the third goal on the counter. Now he needs to demonstrate the some consistency to force himself into Wenger’s thinking.

The other youngster to impress in the first half was Nordveit. When I saw him in Bundesliga he seemed afraid of the ball and shied away from responsibility. In this game it was a different story altogether as the youngster was calm and composed and picked out some decent long passes. His reading of the game and defensive positioning was not bad considering the unfamiliar nature of his role. I’d like to see him against quicker and better players before forming an opinion but he’s certainly not bad for a third choice Right Back.

Jay Emmanuel Thomas had a bright start to the game wide on the right but drifted out of the game after the initial minutes. I thought he was a little hesitant when facing the defender on the edge of the box and will have to be much more decisive and incisive in order to make an impression.

Jay Simpson had a good game. He gives the impression of being a good striker but if you watch his game closely there are a few mistakes that we shouldn’t see at the highest level. I still think he would make a good striker for a smaller Premier League team. He isn’t any worse than Di Santo who played at Blackburn last year or Benitez at Birmingham. Hopefully, we will get good value for him and he will get a good career.

Traore was quick and energetic. Put in some good crosses and some horrible ones. Inconsistency and lapses in concentration, especially defensively, have been his weaknesses and this game wasn’t much different.

Amongst the seniors, the newcomer Koscielny was as impressive as a defender can be when the team is rarely under attack. His touch looked good and he looked like a ball playing central defender. His aerial and physical strength wasn’t really tested. I thought we didn’t deal with some aerial balls in the first half but that was more on Vermaelen’s side of the pitch. In any case Barnet didn’t have much to trouble us.

Arshavin and Rosicky were on a different planet in terms of class and Fabianski wasn’t really tested.

The second half was a completely different ball game as the whole team was changed. The most notable change was that Arsenal missed Frimpong in the middle. I’m not sure who was supposed to be the holding midfielder as Henderson, Lansbury and Nasri are all creative/attacking players.

This, coupled with the fact that Barnet came out better organized and pressed the ball better, meant that the second half was scrappy and boring.

Amongst the youngsters, Gibbs was impressive in defence and while going forward; Miquel had a few good interceptions and clearances; Eastmond didn’t have much to do at Right Back didn’t really look solid; Henderson didn’t get on the ball as often as I’d have liked; Same goes for Lansbury; Barazite was wasteful and looks like a guy who has reached his peak and will not be good enough; Mannone and Szczesny shared the half without much to do as the hosts hardly had a shot on target.

Chamakh had some good touches but I was disappointed with his shooting. It will get better as he regains his fitness and match sharpness. Walcott was sharp and his touch was good. I was impressed with the fact that he looked hungry and focussed and hasn’t let the England snub affect him. He also put in some good crosses but Barazite was never available at the back post.

Djourou was solid in the centre of defence and looked good on the ball. Nasri was the standout player of the half and it’s good to see him start off from where he ended the last season. Looked like another player who is past the World Cup disappointment and ready for the upcoming season.

It was also interesting to note that we played with a formation similar to last season. We will know more about the boss’ tactical plans once all the big guns are back so I don’t want to discuss that in detail at the moment. Considering the fact that many first choice players were missing, this game was fun to watch and sets up an exciting pre-season.

I’ll end with a comment on ATVO. It saddens me to say that the coverage was really poor. I don’t know if it was only me or others got a shaky/blurry picture for most of the game. I’ve had no problems with streaming before and have comfortably watched games on ESPN3 and other sources with an 8 Mbps connection. I had no problems watching press conferences and highlights on ATVO last year so this seems to be a new issue. Hopefully, it will be sorted out soon if it affected a majority of the users.

22 Responses to Four Goals, Nice Football – An Enjoyable Start To Preseason

  1. arsenal fan says:

    i had the same problem you had

  2. arsenal fan says:

    but none the less good analysis

  3. Brightwub says:

    Hey I love ur posts

  4. simms21 says:

    The stream could depend on your bandwidth. Mine was good for the most part only choppy twice on 10mbps.

    ESPN3 is better because ESPN has an actually IT Infrastructure I don’t know much Arsenal is involved with the hosting and streaming of the videos.

    About the article good post!

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah that was my first guess but I’ve not had much problems with hulu, youtube, espn3 or atvo in the past. This particular stream was different somehow. Let’s see will know more in the coming days I guess.

  5. the gun says:

    good analysis. just hope chamak hits form soon. we need a player who will deliver the goods not a player in the making. arsenal should focus on keping the ball at least 70% of the time, so our defence wont be exploited. wenger has to buy a keeper

    • desigunner says:

      Sorry, don’t know why this one was held up for moderation.

      Chamakh was good with his touches and Wenger was spot on when he said Chamakh brought others into play. I have high hopes from him.

      Defence and Keeping surely need work. Probably the top priority in the Austria camp.

  6. Pato says:

    It’s interesting that you say Barazite ”looks like a guy who has reached his peak and will not be good enough”.His defense-splitting pass to Walcott was brilliant and he did some nice touches.I think you are a bit harsh on him.I couldn’t agree more with the rest of your analysis, though.

    • desigunner says:

      Which pass are you talking about? Like Raza below I guess you are talking about the one by Nasri.

      I don’t know exactly why but I find Barazite quite infuriating. The boy has a lot of talent no doubt but he has a few moments of brilliance and a lot of mediocrity surrounding those moments. He reminds me of Chris Eagles and that can’t be good!!

      Hope that you’re right and I’m wrong.

  7. GoonerRaza says:

    pato, the defense-splitting pass to Walcott was from Nasri not Barazite

  8. Phil23 says:

    I got the same problem late in the first half and I couldn’t help but think maybe they had higher traffic than they were expecting? Wilshere looks ready. Frimpong should also go to the first team to learn from Song. I still stand by Vertonghen though.

    • desigunner says:

      Very good point about higher traffic, seems quite likely. That 1 pound scheme looks quite good albeit a bit unfair on regular subscribers.

      Wilshere looked good in the pre-season last year as well, didn’t he? I hope the media doesn’t create unnecessary pressure on him like they did with Walcott.

      And I stand by you in that 🙂

  9. Nigel says:

    This is by far my favourite blog to read. Thanks desigunner for your level-headed writing. No sugar coating and no slagging the team. Well done and keep up the good work

  10. amel says:


  11. Pato says:

    I am sorry to tell you that but I am pretty sure it was not nasri who gave that defense-splitting pass to walcott.I heard the commentator saying it was barazite and I also read about it in another blog.

    • desigunner says:

      Do you mean the one over the top from the halfway line? That was certainly Barazite and it was a fantastic pass.

      I was talking of the ball down the middle that almost put Theo through one-on-one. The one where Walcott tried to chip the keeper but the keeper saved. That was by Nasri.

  12. KP says:

    Just an awareness question – why didn’t Eduardo, Vela and Bendtner not play the game? Injury/Yet to return from world cup?

    • desigunner says:

      Vela will be back later in the month. Bendtner should come back for Austria but that might depend on his injury. Eduardo, I don’t really know.

  13. Liked the look of Gibbs too. Glad he didn’t break a bone during the recent Tottenham game.

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