Chamakh, Koscielny Superb + Soft Goal Frustrating

Arsene started this game with a fairly strong line-up. Rosicky and Arshavin flanked Chamakh in attack. As expected, the midfield was marshalled by Nasri, Wilshere, and Frimpong. Vermaelen and Koscielny paired in the centre of defence with Fabianski in goal. Eboue and Gibbs completed the eleven.

I thought that team looked strong enough to start a premier league home game against any mid table or bottom half side. It would also be strong enough for the early rounds of the FA Cup. When we consider that four key midfielders and two strikers are missing, it certainly gives one a sense of comfort about the depth. A couple of additions (in goal and centre of defence) will help but we aren’t as short as the Misery Brigade would have us believe.

The whole game was pretty exciting as both teams played without pressure. Right from the start we could see that Arsenal were on the front foot. We created plenty of half chances but the final ball was mostly missing. In defence the team looked fairly solid. Koscielny was particularly impressive with his positioning, reading of the game, and well-timed interceptions. Up front another new boy, Chamakh, was making some good runs down the channels and impressed with his ball holding skills and link up play.

Milan came close a couple of times. A long free kick down the middle wasn’t completely cleared and Flamini was the first on to the loose ball only to hit the crossbar via a deflection. I was a bit disappointed with this as it was very similar to the problems we’ve had with high balls down the middle. The midfield wasn’t close enough to support the defence on the second ball. When we have Song on the pitch he is alert to these issues but the youngsters will have to read these situations better.

On another occasion the former gunner was able to run straight down the middle and unleashed a fierce shot that was deflected away by Vermaelen. At the other end the Belgian’s header off a corner forced a good save. Overall, the first half was exciting but there wasn’t any real moment of class.

It arrived when Arshavin woke up from his slumber. The Russian picked up the ball near the half way line and accelerated past a couple of challenges. It’s not often that we see Gattuso shrugged off with such nonchalance. That run was followed by an inch perfect through ball and Chamakh supplied an intelligent finish as he let the ball roll across him and side-footed it past the keeper. A very composed, high quality finish was a good start in front of the home crowd for the Moroccan.

Anybody who doubted Wenger’s genius in the transfer market should revisit that first half and watch the performances of Koscielny and Chamakh. As Le Boss often says, big players are those who perform on the pitch and not necessarily those who have big price tags. It’s early days but the two signings of the summer have created a fantastic first impression.

I also thought the youngsters, Frimpong and Wilshere, did fairly well even though Seedorf taught them some lessons. Wilshere does make some mistakes while going forward. I think he is a guy with so much time on the ball that he ends up with too many options and gets a bit confused. If he can learn to pick a pass a little early he won’t lose the ball as often as he did in the first half hour. Frimpong didn’t go forward that often and it was understandable. He could have been closer to the defence and taken the ball from them a bit more often but I don’t want to criticize him for things even the experienced players struggle with.

Rosicky, Nasri, Gibbs and Eboue are good players and did what we’ve come to expect from them. Just like our other full backs, Gibbs needs to work on his crossing a bit but his positioning and overlapping runs were quite good. Rosicky drifted in a bit but I thought Nasri compensated for that by drifting out wide quite often.

Fabianski had a very good game. He didn’t have to make too many saves or attack many balls in the air but looked assured and confident in whatever he did. At one particular moment he did a very good job of rushing out and winning the ball before the striker who was clean through.

It’s worth giving some thought to that moment. The Milan attack came out of nothing when Chamakh (It could have been someone else, I’m not sure about this) played a risky crossfield pass just inside the Milan half. He had three or four clear short passes available but he went for a longer one and ended up short. Flamini won the ball and was able to slide it through for Boriello who could have been clean through if Fabianski had not read the situation.

These are simple mistakes that can lead to big problems. For instance, if the striker had been a quicker player like Rooney, Fabianski might have been caught out or might even have seen a red card. In such cases the keeper looks like a fool but the real problem is with the guy who got the pass wrong and with the midfielder who didn’t put enough pressure on the through ball.

At times it seems stupid to create an issue out of such a small thing but we concede many goals out of nothing and this was a perfect example of that.

The second half saw a few substitutions with Sagna, Clichy and Walcott coming on for the full backs and Rosicky. Arsenal created a couple of good chances down the right but the Milan defenders blocked the attempts on goal. Chamakh created a chance for Arshavin with a drag back and reverse flick but the angle was too tight for the Russian. I’ve a feeling these two will enjoy playing with each other.

Milan weren’t creating many chances and I was really disappointed that we conceded a sloppy goal from a simple set-piece. There were three Arsenal defenders around Pato but none of them could get their head on the ball. I even got a feeling that Djourou actually ducked under the ball for some strange reason. Perhaps, he didn’t want to concede a corner and thought there was someone covering behind him. There wasn’t much the keeper could have done.

Towards the end Mark Randall (a real surprise to see him on the pitch) got a double chance but hit it too close to the keeper on both occasions. I think the kid lacks a bit of composure and that’s what prevents an immense talent from blossoming into a top class player.

At the other end, Zambrotto rattled the bar with a thunderous striker. I got a feeling it was too easy for the Milan players to play the one-two, especially in the final half hour when our play was completely disjointed. As in the Wigan game last season, the link between defence and attack was broken as the midfield went AWOL for a while. Milan couldn’t capitalize but a lot of work is needed if we have to go through the year without losing points to stupid moments.

Amongst the subs; Walcott was his usual self, Vela had one moment of brilliance, Djourou looked rusty and out of position, and Randall was exciting and frustrating as ever.

All in all it was a positive performance that gave me a lot of confidence.You can see the highlights here, and the extended highlights here.

I think the starting eleven tomorrow will be somewhat different and will probably have some more rookies. That is another good game to look forward to.

45 Responses to Chamakh, Koscielny Superb + Soft Goal Frustrating

  1. RH says:

    Misery Brigade here!

    Didn’t Djourou look good playing DM?? Lost conrol of the game when he came on. Didn’t know what he was doing. And why was he there? Song unavailable/ backup DM’s Denilson & Diaby (neither best in that position) ditto. The cracks are already starting to show – a squad on thin ice…..

    Kosc & Chamakh were outstanding. AW makes such good buys – he should try it more often!

    • desigunner says:

      Wow! We have Song, Diaby & Denilson missing. Plus we had Frimpong who has done well in that role and even Nasri can put in a shift if necessary.

      So now you’re clutching at straws and criticizing Djourou who is like the 6th choice in that role! He wasn’t very good but did you realize how many players we had out of position? And how many third choice players were on the pitch?

      Did you see how United looked completely clueless against the Kansas City Wizards or the Mexican team? Or how Spuds were annihilated by Villareal? Or how City have struggled in all of pre-season despite spending big?

      No team can be perfect at that level depth and so early in the season. If the mind watching the game has some cracks then they will appear no matter what Wenger does.

      You really must be a general in the Misery Brigade.

  2. Charles says:

    I think Eboue is actually a better right back than Sagna. Is it just me, is anybody else is thinking along the same line?


    • Davi says:

      Possibly. He looked better last season.
      Basically I think against the lesser teams eboue is more effective, but I’d feel safer with sagna against the tougher opposition, simply because he has better concentration. Eboue is better at one-on-one defending, though and may be a better option against a dangerous winger.
      It’s a great problem to have, deciding between these two, and eboue’s versatility really strengthens the squad.

    • desigunner says:

      I think Sagna is much better when there is someone like Walcott in front but Eboue is better behind Nasri or Rosicky.

      Walcott doesn’t defend as well and Sagna provides better balance in that case, while Nasri and Rosicky do a decent bit of tracking back and Eboue offers more pace and penetration while going forward.

    • Samuel says:

      Agree with you Charles as Sagna cannot get past his opposite no. unlike Eboue who pushes forward and creates space for other Arsenal players?

  3. david awe says:

    ye i agree wit u charles ebue seems a bettr right back, his crosses re normally bettr nd mostly precise.. remember the goal he creted 4 henry’s header against united?

  4. Don Draper says:

    Frimpong has moved way ahead of Denilson on sheer aggression and power alone. I can’t wait to see Frimpong partnering Song in midfield when we need to hold a lead this season!!

    Gibbs looked terrific. Clichy needs to watch his back! I would like to see this team:

    New GK
    Sagna Kos/Mertesacker TV5 Gibbs
    Song Frimpong
    RVP Chamakh Arshavin

    Kos looked solid. If we had Mertesacker we’d concede half the set piece goals we do now.

    • Roy says:

      Agreed. No new keeper no trophies!

    • desigunner says:

      I’d continue with Van Persie in the middle simply because he has developed into a top class finisher in the last two seasons. Chamakh can be on the right as Bendtner was at the start of last season.

      I’d also have Nasri in the starting line-up whenever he is fit. Pref in central midfield.

  5. Don Draper says:

    …But good lord, we need players who want to kill off a game. I wonder if Arsene tells them that?

  6. gooner0609 says:

    Wilshire & Frimpong matched against a very physical Flamini, Gattuso and Seedorf and they did not look at all intimidated. Some perspective is good but that was an astonishing performance from a couple of kids.

    Exit Gattuso and Young Jack had the freedom of the park.

    There are a lot of parts still in storage but today showed me we have strength in depth for the run of the mill games in the Premiership. Rather impressive.

    Number 6 looked smart and aggressive without the ball and poised with it.

    He will make a couple of howlers this year so lets try not to slaughter him.

    Vela showed some fitness and hustle. He has obviously been told what is expected of him.

    This is a good group, lets get behind them

  7. Phil23 says:

    I love watching Arsenal at the Emirates… Does anyone else still get mesmerized by our passing? How can an entire team of players be so comfortable on the ball? Anyway… I too think the partnership of Song and Frimpong would be a sight to see. It might also bring out the ‘general’ in Song with an energetic and impressionable Frimpong following his directions. Lastly, anyone who blamed Fabianski’s performance are a bit biased because funnily enough I saw some really good things about Fabianski’s game tonight. He almost plays as a sweeper which is almost vital with our suicide high line. I’ve decided that i’d like to see Almunia go with an experienced keeper coming in with strengths in communication, direction, set pieces, etc so that they can teach our three young keepers the missing parts to their game. He wouldn’t even have to be the starter.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m sure you mean the entire squad 🙂

      If Fabianski has a run of good games he will develop into a phenomenal keeper. On the other hand if he has a couple of bad games once again his top level career could end … It’s a tricky time for the youngster (He’s still young in keeper terms) and he will need a great deal of mental strength.

      • Samuel says:

        That all depends on which two centrebacks Arsene prefers ,i go with Vermaelen and Koscielny for now ?

    • Ryan says:

      Your comment about a song/frimpong partnership is interesting. It kind of reminds me of the van bommel/de Jong partnership in holland’s successful 4-2-3-1 formation during the world cup. Song does remind me of a “general”, while frimpong is quick and aggressive. This is just one of the numerous choices wenger will have during the campaign. Oh, the possibilities!

      • kunal says:

        i agree with song-frimpong partnership. they would be more of xabi alonso-busquets type. although our players are stronger. they need to be a little more physical against the likes of drogba, rooney, tevez etc.

    • Roy says:

      I love being the voice of discontent.
      Flappy still can’t deal with high balls, just stands on his line now. Doesn’t communicate with his defence. Was saved by the woodwork twice, Vermaelen blocks several times and was useless with the freekick, a decent keeper commands his box and if you step
      in there watch yourself. He’s as commanding as a scout leader…
      His long distribution is awful never gets to
      an Arsenal player.
      Apart from that he’s alright…

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by fabrez_, Shin Ryujin. Shin Ryujin said: DesiGunner: Chamakh, Koscielny Superb + Soft Goal Frustrating: Arsene started this game with a fairly stro… #Arsenal […]

  9. Nzeadi Ikenna says:

    Yeah Charles, I have always told people that, Eboue is far better than Sagna both defensively, attack, crosses, strength and everything and infact, they had chance when Sagna replaced Eboue and Eboue would have got the ball, not the man as Sagna deliberately did.

  10. santori says:

    Just a thought, still not convince with 4-3-3.

    When we lost the ball in Milan’s half, we tried to press them immediately but on occasion they found space (acres of it) right behind the pressing forward/mids and in front of the defense.

    Particularly Flamini, found a lot of joy just between our midfield and defense.

    I know it was Frimpong playing (and he did a very decent job) but I still feel 4-2-3-1 is better for us with Song holding and one other playing the link between Song and Fab (more importantly compressing the space around Song as he is slow)

    The other thing is the goal we conceded. Again I Lay this somewhat on the keeper. He needs to direct the defense a little. It speaks of Fabianski (and all our junior keepers’) inexperience. They’re good but still not quite ready IMO.

    Finally Chamakh. The most telling moment was when he back flicked that pass to Arsharvin charging toward goal. That would seem to indicate that he is getting his bearings on the pitch vis-a-vis his new mates. He seems to be clicking intogear just fine.

    I wonder if there is a chance to play Chamakh up front in a 4-2-3-1 with RVP in the hole and Fabregas lying deeper next to Song. Might be a great way to get the best out of RVP’s unpredictability, Chamakh’s strength and Fabregas’s vision (from deep)

    Sorry for the ramble 😀

  11. SomeRandomGunner says:

    Chamakh was impressive. Koscielny looks a better defender than Vemaelen . In the first half itself he made some 10 interceptions his positioning was great through out the game. Anybody noticed his long ball to Chamakh where Chamakh held the ball and squared it for Nasri , that pass could have been better . But that ball was really telling another quality of Koscielny, anybody sees any resemblance to Pique’s pass to Ibra against us ?
    But i did notice a problem with our CB pairing, because both Vermaelen and Koscielny looks to attack/intercept the ball. If they fail to intercept/loose the tackle other CB has to recover quickly and cover for that. Koscielny did that in last game , but Vermaelen does not look up for that. But it is just their 2nd game, they should have better understanding after quite a few games. Desi the moment you talk about when our defence was split was due to this problem , Koscielny tried to intercept the ball and pulled out of the position and Vermaelen did not expect it we were opened up. This could be a problem with new CB pairing, in our home game against Barca Vermaelen did this and Song was not expecting it at all. I think with more games together this could be a very very good CB pairing. And our counter attacking is going to be much faster and effective with two ball playing CBs.
    Frimpong did good, but still not ready he is too naive. Gap between our defence and midfield looks too big and that caused us few problems. That Arshavin shot from Chamakh’s brilliance, i thought the midfielder was coming in too late or did not come in at all. That is a worry because we depend on midfield for goals. After all whole midfield was second choice.
    Over all i enjoyed the game. Arsenal look very good. Koscielny and Chamakh are going to be great this season. Did i mention Rosicky was great. Gibbs is looking like a better option than Clichy with each game.
    I would like Chamakh on the right and RVP in the middle and Arsha on the left. Chamakh can attack crosses coming in from the right at far post. Interchange with RVP and RVP can cut from right.
    I am excited about this season. Hopefully we do not have to play our 3rd choice players because of injuries.

    • santori says:

      Much prefer Chamakh in the middle where he can be an asset in the air.

    • desigunner says:

      The CB’s will certainly need to improve their understanding. I hope it happens sooner rather than later because we have a relatively tough start. I also hope Arsene finishes his business quite soon because the fourth CB will need time to gel.

  12. ojiejon says:

    We arsenal fans complain too much. Even if wenger signs 10 new players, we will still complain.
    Milan turned in and out by our young team. And could have scored 3 or more goals. I’m imagining their fans calling for the head of the coach, or crucifing their ‘experienced’ defence for letting in the goal.
    Pls, let for once appreciate what we have. Thanks

  13. Goonerrob says:

    First time I’ve read your blog Desi,enjoyed it immensely and liked the comments through out.Excellent stuff! Keep up the good work.

  14. Iqtesab says:

    All of u who are saying that chamakh should play on the right are out of your minds. Putting chamakh in that position would deprive him of the main reason arsene probably bought him – his heading ability. So it is better not to play him than play him at that position.

    And anyways RVP had always been a centre forward. I dont think he is effective as a lone striker. I think it has been proven before at arsenal and at holland in the world cup. I think this season arsene will revert back to that 4-4-2 formation and play them both.

    • santori says:

      Second your thoughts on Chamakh.

      4-4-2. That would be interesting.

    • SomeRandomGunner says:

      I do not think we will revert to 4-4-2. I am not really sure how many crosses we make it to the central striker, so i dont think we will loose Chamakh headers anyways Clichy’s crosses always goto far post and beyond and i have never seen Arshavin cross, so it is not that bad an idea to have Chamakh in right. And also our 4-3-3 is flexible and at the start of the last season our whole front 3 interchanged seamlessly so that should not be a problem. After all we had our best header (Bendtner ) on the right last season. I cannot really imagine anybody doing the lone striker role better than RVP. Atleast in Arsenal where the team is so much a team and with the midfielders we have, cannot get better than RVP .

  15. Charlie g says:

    Gibbs is terrific. I could see this year we have very good sub for every position except goalkeeper. Competition for places will be intense and should keep everyone on their toes. The youngsters have reallly move up several notches. We just need another cb and good gk, and we will be ready to compete the coming season.
    Chamakh is a class act. Hope ashavin wakes up more often, he really have to this coming season or he will find welsher ahead of him.
    Clihchy will need to recapture the form from two years ago if he is to keep his place.
    Hopefully, jet and Lansbury perform tonight, that will definitely add more to the equation.
    Ramsey coming back in the second half of the season, another option.
    Exciting times finally after a five years wait.

  16. I think Eboue is a far better choice than Sagna, Sagna cant cross and he makes mistakes close to the goal that leads us to conceding soft goals, Gibbs looks better than Clichy one time Clichy was caught out of position Tv covered Clichy paced and left the middle exposed the ball was cut back and that was a terrible moment

  17. Vermaelen says:

    We have such quality players for every position(at least 2). My only concern is rotation because Wenger doesn’t usually change his team unless there’s an injury. What I would like to see more of is a different team for the lesser/+home games where we can rest SOME of our 1st team players and give chances to youngsters/2nd-string. This would hopefully prevent so many injuries in our so injury-prone squad. As suggested, the team against Milan already looks good, I see no reason why a similar team cannot play against weaker oppositions in the league. Sometimes it is quite frightening considering how well we played yesterday that we’ve still got van Persie, Bendtner, Fabregas, Song, Diaby, Ramsey, Clichy, Sagna(and many more) omitted from the starting 11.

    • desigunner says:

      I’ve never been able to figure out Wenger’s aversion to rotation … given that he has so much talent at his disposal … let’s see how this season goes.

  18. Kirk says:

    Even fabianski had a decent game I just couldn’t be able to cope if he was our new number one. He has started the most pre season games and had the most minutes. Surely he can’t be our number one ? Did arsene not see his games near the end of last season? And it’s getting a bit too late too sign a goalkeeper , ideally we wanted one in sooner to be training with the squad and all that try get chemistry playing with them. But I think we definitely need a top class goalkeeper and a top class cb and were sorted to mount challenges for all the trophies !

    • Roy says:

      I agree with all of that. But. A truly world class keeper would be fine as he’d come in and command the defence!
      We need a big personality, if we don’t get a new keeper I hope we stick with Manuel. He’s the best of a BAD bunch..

  19. Bellerophon says:

    the new signings were amazing. Chamakh looked very hungry up front, Bendtner should be worried. He’s control of the ball is good and he can hold the ball up and bring players around him into the game. All the positives went down the drain when we conceded the goal. Same old story, dont finish teams off and concede soft goals.

  20. […] Chamakh, Koscielny Superb + Soft Goal Frustrating Arsene started this game with a fairly strong line-up. Rosicky and Arshavin flanked Chamakh in attack. As expected, the […] […]

  21. Manav says:

    That finish from Chamakh……..Arsene has brought TOP CLASS QUALITY to the Emirates Stadium!
    I still don’t understand what happened to our midfield in the last 20-25 minutes. Milan were not pressing that hard so did the guys just run out of steam or what?
    Your analysis of that Fabianski-Boriello face-off is interesting. That mis-calculated initial long pass set-off a sort of chain reaction that threatened to nuke us.
    Overall, a good outing for the boys. I’m pleased.

  22. Hello, I read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.Thanks!

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