Playing in the rain. That was a fun game when we’re younger, or could still be if you’re young now. Or not, if your parents are overly protective of you and thinks a every drop of rain on you would kill one cell in your body. Playing football in the rain is especially fun when you’re in a hot climate and that is your once in a blue moon fix for a little cold weather. That’s what Arsenal got to enjoy. A little bit of rain, a little of cool and a little bit like back home for them.
So we didn’t beat Manchester City, neither were we outplayed and got a thrashing. Considering who we have on the squad, it’s a result that I can live with. It is still the pre season after all. There’s no point getting so worked up over a defeat when the building of fitness is of the more importance. Yes, Manchester City themselves did not have the full compliment of their squad as well. Which is exactly why it was pleasing to see that with what is effectively a mixed team for both sides, we still dominated the match.
Domination comes by means of possession. We had most of the ball but failed to utilise it to good effect when going forward. When we did create space for ourselves, we were stopped by our poor finishing as well as some top saves from the City keeper, Costel Pantilimon. The man was also responsible for denying the chance to beat City in the Carling Cup last season. He came up with the big saves and looks like a real prospect. When we didn’t have the ball, the wall came crashing down. Poor defending lead to the two goals being conceded.
We’ve touched on concentration many times in the past. Technically we know the players are good enough. Physically they are not the strongest but definitely one of the fittest. The reason why we conceded so many goals last seasons or in fact in recent memory, is mainly down to poor concentration and awareness. Allowing opposition to drive forward without picking them up and being sucked into ball watching. That happened again last night, from both the left and right side of our defence. When the concentration is there, you can see how good those defenders are. Take that Carl Jenkinson block on Tevez (I think) for example. More work needed on the training ground.
All that apart, it was very positive to see that Abou Diaby played in another game and lasted one half without suffering any ill effect. For the second game running, that is a very good sign. That’s not to say he won’t break down again soon but it is at least encouraging to see him progressing well on the fitness level. Sure, there are times yesterday when he didn’t get stuck in. Perhaps there was a fear of injury or perhaps it was down to the match being a pre season friendly. Such things would not be tolerated when the match is a competitive one.
There are 2 more positives to be picked up from yesterday’s game. One of which is Marouane Chamakh. The beleaguered striker has been criticised for his performance last season and rightly so. Many, including me, thinks that he is not good enough and will never recapture the level of performance he showed when he first joined Arsenal. Yesterday reminded why sometimes we should give players benefit of the doubt. He was not entirely back to his best circa 2010 but definitely much better than he was last year. The touches and control were good. His layoffs and interplay was also pleasing to watch. Perhaps, just perhaps, the possible departure of one Dutchman is spurring him on.
The other person who should come out of yesterday’s game with a lot of credit is Ignasi Miquel. I’m going to be honest with you. I have never been completely sold on this young Spanish centreback but I was certainly impressed with him yesterday. He slotted in on the right side of the central of defence even though he is the less experienced of the left footed duo in that centre back pairing (the other being Thomas Vermaelen). Miquel played like he has played there for a considerable amount of time. He was calm and was able to position himself well to make interceptions. Could be interesting to see what’s next for him, loan or stay on as 5th choice.
One more pre season friendly in Asia to go and the team goes to Hong Kong for the last leg of the tour. So far, it has been a successful trip for the club. Debatable on the on-pitch developments but off-field the success is unquestionable. Just have a look at the number of Arsenal fans in the Bird’s Nest Stadium yesterday. Fair to say, the current Premier League champions were outshone in that department. Well done to all the fans who turned out.
More tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of the day and if it’s your interest, the Olympics.