10 August 2013

Arsenal 3-1 Man City: Forget Suarez; we're fine.

Yep. The 2013-14 is off to a roaring start. After dismantling Man City 3-1, it's abundantly clear that the squad is well-stocked and ready to reclaim its mantle atop the Prem, shouldering aside deeper-pocketed ingenues left and right. So commanding was the performance, in fact, that it's safe to say that we will simply run away from the rest of the pack. It's been ten years since something notable happened in this club's history, but I just can't quite put my finger on what it was...

I'm almost sure Carl apologized.
Okay, so I exaggerate a bit. It was a back and forth affair, and the scoreline flatters us a bit. With both teams fielding what amounted to full-strength starting XI's in front of a sell-out crowd, there was something of a "real" feeling to this match, and so the outcome is promising, and we'll leave it at that. Let's not draw any deeper conclusions. Promising. Our attack looked lively with Walcott notching a goal and two assists, Ramsey chipping in a goal and an assist, and Giroud adding a goal of his own.

Despite some early pressure from City, it was us who seized the lead on the 9th minute as Walcott slipped behind Clichy to gather Ramsey's clever through-ball and chip it past Hart. It was a pretty little sequence that suggests deeper confidence and communication between our boys, and Walcott's touch to gather the pass and get past Hart also hint at defter footwork as he seeks to lay claim to his own signature goal-scoring move. Seizing an early lead can do wonders for a club's confidence and momentum, and so it was that Ramsey tallied in the 62nd on a wonderful give-and-goal from Walcott (also notable was Giroud's alertness as he stepped out of the pass's path). Ramsey side-stepped Hart and finished brightly from a tight angle. Last but not least, Giroud showed amazing touch as he gathered a long pass from Walcott while side-stepping over a sliding Kompany and flicked with the outside of his left over the charging Hart. Each goal was prettier than the last, it seemed, and just as important as they enhanced the scoreline, they suggest a squad that's developing some strong cohesion—almost enough, it seems to dispel the need for any major, record-breaking signings.

I'm not the only one who's suggested that Walcott and Giroud could have break-out seasons this year, and it's just a preseason friendly, but their productivity today was encouraging. I'll go so far as to suggest that I hope it was enough to encourage Arsène to look at bolstering areas other than center-forward. During the match, there were rumors that we'd signed Luis Gustavo from Bayern, for example, which would be a welcome addition. We'll have to look into that later on. On-trial Sebastian Perez made a strong appearance, so we might see him sign up as back-up for Arteta and Ramsey as well. Back to the match.

Of course, it wasn't all Arsenal. Man City had more than few chances of its own, but in what's becoming an almost obligatory remark, Koscielny marshalled the defense with such skill and confidence that our keepers were rarely troubled. Aside from Negredo's afterthought of a goal, their shots on goal were few and far-between, despite fielding their shiny new additions Jovetic, Fernandinho, and Navas. The contrast then between their summer activity and our, um "activity" didn't feel as sharp as it did coming into the match, and it offers a mild reminder that continuity and communication are valuable assets, which is not an argument against signings so much as a regret that we didn't sign anyone earlier on. We have a week before hosting Aston Villa, hopefully a soft-enough opener that anyone we do add has a few days to  introduce himself. We have a fair number of players going off on international duty this week, and I don't know if that makes it easier or harder to conduct transfer-business. We'll see...

That should do it for now. We'll take a closer look at Gustavo and Perez if it seems necessary, and we'll prepare for Aston Villa as well. In the meantime, please take a minute to pick your man of the match in the comments below, and go vote in the 2012-13 YAMA  Awards for Arsenal bloggers and writers. Woolwich 1886 is honored to be among the nominees for "Best New Arsenal Blog". Thanks!