94 Seconds is what it took for the Arsenal to open their account for the new campaign, and it had to be our club record signing, Lacazette.
It was well past midnight in my part of the world when he guided that ball in, and I had absolutely no thought or respect for the fact that my folks were fast asleep, as I let out a roar of relief.
When you have the weight of being the most expensive player of the club, it is of paramount importance to get that first goal out of the way, as soon as possible. Credit to Lacazette for that.
This review is more about what I saw on the pitch than about stats and figures, and I am not going to dwell on the downside, although there will be a passing mention.
First off, Kolasinac. What a signing, yeah? Looked fantastic on the ball, going forward. Tremendous strength in hounding the opposition forcing them off the ball. Yes, he could have done better on that second goal we conceded, but hey, who am I to complain when he’s been exceptionally brilliant, otherwise? Almost involved in every attack we made, and to top it off, he sent Riyad Mahrez packing his bags to Algeria, with that neat bit of skill towards the end of the game.
Coming back to Lacazette, I think he’s given us a glimpse of what we can expect from him, this season. He’s getting us goals, loads of them. There’s no two words about that. We’ve always been left wanting with that clinical fox in the box who puts away those goals which in past seasons, cost us vital points. What also impressed me, is his off the ball movement and link up play, which goes on to show that he’s not just about goals. He seemed to have that real hunger to make a difference. Often, he dropped back to retrieve possession and attempt an attack. Good stuff all around.
Xhaka, my man for the season, didn’t quite look to be at his best. Perhaps the jitters of it being opening day and a crucial fixture, as he is all too well familiar with the expectations for this season. Still was impressive with his vision as he did attempt to release our attackers on quite a few occasions. He’s going to have a big season ahead.
Personally, I still think we need to bring in that midfielder who will compliment Xhaka. I’m not entirely sure if his partnership with El Neny, Ramsey, or Coquelin is sustainable on the long end of the season.
Defensively, we weren’t at our best, I agree. Holding looked like a player of his age, for the first time. But I think he will learn from it. I wouldn’t really complain about last night though. We’re yet to have our two main center halves back. Still think Wenger is yet to decide on that back 3.
Talking about defense, Arsene Wenger who is often criticized for not taking risks and gambles did exactly that, by switching to a 4-man defense while we trailed 2-3. What was so impressive about that? He chose to take off his only center half on the pitch and bring on two attack minded players, and the back four would take shape with 3 full backs and a winger. Talk about taking risks, yeah? And boy, did it pay off.
You don’t quite get better super substitutions than that of last night. Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Men.
Aaron Ramsey is a curious case. He’s a man who’s fought severe odds with a career threating injury to come back and play football at the highest level. Not only did he come back, but he broke our trophy drought which will go down in our history books. And yet, he’s not completely accepted by the fan base. I think he gets a lot of unwanted slack and criticism. Yes, he’s not found the same form that took him to world class levels in the 2013/14 season, but hey, he’s not been as bad as he’s made out to be. I think he will be a crucial player this season, and if he can stay fit, then we will see him get back to his best.
Now, our 99- goal man, Olivier Giroud, without a shadow of doubt a fabulous player who wears his heart on his sleeve. His love for the club is beyond questioning and I hope he hits the 100 -mark in the next game. Had he not been able to guide that 4th goal into the net, I think he should have had a penalty for the tug on his shirt. But, his sheer strength was too obvious on the eye.
20 years down the line, we will look back at Oli G, as one of the finest traditional strikers of his era and the influence he had on this club. It’s been a privilege to have him. I’ll leave my poetic reminiscence of Giroud for the future.
Lastly, our two un-sung heroes of last night, Chamberlain and Welbeck. The two of them played like they had a point to prove, especially the Ox. Hope he stays and gives us that edge we need. Welbeck is a player I absolutely adore. He is so hard working and is every willing to chase lost causes. Something that we missed in the past.
Overall, I believe it has been a great start. Yes, we conceded three, but hey, we scored 4, and by coming back from behind, twice. Yes, quite a few of them including the ballet dancer Mesut, and Xhaka didn’t have the greatest of nights, but there was absolutely nothing to complain about.
My thoughts are that we have a lot to look forward to in terms of us setting pace and raking in the goals, but we still can add more quality into the side, with an additional midfielder. Besides that, we will get better and better as we progress deeper into the season.
Can’t wait for the next game. Up The Arsenal.