The pre-season trip to Austria came to an end with an easy win over Austrian third division side SC Neusiedl. As expected, Arsenal dominated the game and could have scored quite a few more had there been more focus and desire in the final third. We could also have conceded a couple but a goal line clearance and a penalty save by Mannone ensured a clean sheet.
The initial moments of the game were even as Arsenal struggled to get the game going on a difficult pitch. Heavy legs from regular double training sessions could also be part of the reason. The hosts were working hard and pressing all over the pitch. Unsurprisingly, they came close to scoring when a free header was allowed in the penalty box. Nasri was able to keep the ball out.
I’m really hoping we do something about our set-piece defending. In the past I’ve often said it won’t matter who we have in goal if we cannot deal with the set-pieces in a collective way. So far we haven’t been tested in the friendlies so I really can’t say if we have made any improvements or not. Based on the limited evidence though, I’m a little concerned.
After the initial minutes the game was easy. Wilshere was running around at will. He made some good attacking bursts but didn’t have the final ball or the finish. I think it was because the others were just standing and watching instead of running in support.
Nasri too had a great game and created a number of chances, some of which were taken. I guess it’s ironical that these two have been fantastic in the middle during the pre-season games but are not likely to start in those positions unless there is a spate of injuries. Although there is a possibility that Nasri might start the first few games if Fabregas needs some rest.
Amongst the other players, Frimpong had a solid game without being spectacular. He made a few mistakes but was largely reliable. Still think this is not the right test for his abilities. Vermaelen and Koscielny didn’t have much to do. Almunia, a surprise starter, wasn’t really worked. Mannone made a good save from the penalty.
Gibbs was impressive on the left and made a number of good attacking forays. He picked up an assist for the second goal with a precise cut-back. Clichy and Sagna had a good workout nothing more.
Nordtveit struggled a bit with his touch and missed the ball on a couple of occasions. Interestingly, He was played in three positions. Starting out at Right Back, the youngster moved to central midfield and then into centre of defence for the final few minutes. It was too easy a game to judge his performances in the latter roles.
Up front Walcott got a goal but didn’t do much else. JET was again deployed as a central striker but he didn’t really know how to play in that position. At times I expected the striker to make a run or be available but the youngster was caught out of position. He did pick up a goal but I wouldn’t say I was impressed with this performance. I’m not being critical but matter of fact. I think it will take some time before the talented youngster finds his place on the field.
Arshavin was totally disinterested and was just having some fun. Not sure if it sets a good example but with his personality it’s difficult to expect anything else.
Among the subs, Chamakh looked physically imposing and his confidence should be boosted by the goal even if it was an easy penalty. Vela was his usual self; lots of tricks, good runs, some dead ends, some casual touches, and a chipped goal. Eboue ran all over the pitch without really making a contribution.
More than these individual displays, I was worried by the two injuries. I’m assuming Rosicky was injured because he was supposed to start and Nasri came in at the last minute. So far there hasn’t been any update on that front. Similarly, Djourou didn’t even complete half an hour as he went away with the medical staff. Hopefully, neither will be a serious issue and more than that I hope Arsene really is aware of the risks he is taking with so many injury prone players in the squad.
I must also say the streaming on ATVO was horrible. I’d mentioned my disappointment after the Barnet game but the service was better against Sturm Graz. In this game it was extremely pixelated and it was really difficult to identify the players at times. To get an idea of what I mean check out the highlights video. The coverage I got was of that quality and often worse!
Last year I was quite happy with their coverage. It seems something has changed this season and it’s for the worse. I can still see the regular videos like top fives, etc. without a problem but the streaming has been really poor.
Does anyone know whether the Emirates Cup is on ATVO or not? I think it’s not and that will be a real shame.