One point from the first two games of the season can probably be labelled as something that is not good enough. But it is because of it being the 2 games of the season, it is hardly justified to go all mental over the results. Of course I want us to win all games and to have 6 points now but 1 point does not mean that we will not win the league title or finish outside of the champions league positions or be relegated.
Let’s put things into perspective. We had numerous injuries and have to play three 19 year olds and one 21 year old who is never really a defensive midfielders. The performance that they put out against a Liverpool side who have bought expansively (albeit mediocrity) was something worth commending. With 11 players on the pitch, we were more than a fight against a side many experts claim will nick the fourth spot away from us (don’t even let me get started there).
Ultimately, it was that inexperience that cost us. Emmanuel Frimpong got himself sent off for committing far too many fouls. The first due to him preventing Liverpool from taking a quick throw in, the second for a wild late challenge on Lucas. Those plus the many other fouls that he gave away were valid ones to make too. Had he not done all those, Liverpool might have been in with a chance at goal. He will learn from this mistake but will no doubt be showered with praise for his doggedness and desire to be first to the ball, and rightly so.
The second of those 19 year old had an accomplished performance at the heart of our defence. Ignasi Miquel was called upon as early as the 16th minute after Laurent Koscielny suffered what looked like to be back spasm. Depending on the extent of the injury, that might hurt us over longer periods but not in this game. Apart from the first aerial challenge against Andy Carroll, Miquel adjusted well to the game. Composed reading of the game and chose his passes well.
The last of those 19 year olds was Carl Jenkinson. Premiership home début for a player will always be a daunting prospect but he did well. Never allowed the opposition to get behind him and joined the supported our attack on occasions. He too suffered injury towards the end of the match. Tiredness no doubt playing a part in that.
However, they were not the most impressive of the lot. That honour goes to Thomas Vermaelen. It’s cliché to say this but how we missed him last season. You can never question his commitment to the team. Many in the team could learn from his desire to always be first to the ball. We managed to limit the impact of Carroll’s aerial prowess and that is mainly down to him. The kind of height he gets off the ground is nothing short of incredible.
The last of those who deserves a special mention is Samir Nasri. I’ll admit that I did not want him to start as that easily backfire. What with the question on his commitment and the response of the crowd to his inclusion. I’m happy to say that I’m wrong. The crowd was first class, chanting and supporting the team from the first to the final whistle. In truth, Nasri responded in kind. Driving the team from midfield and going on those runs that we know he’s capable of. Was unlucky to drag his shot wide on one of those runs. If this turns out to be his last game for us, then he can hold his head high for that performance.
Ultimately it was disappointing to lose such a game. There were positives in those individual performances as mentioned above and given the circumstances surrounding the match. Therein lies the problem as well. For a club as big as Arsenal, we should never be in those circumstances. The board and the manager should not have allowed it to come to this point.
Those who had to stand in yesterday did their best and I personally find it hard to fault any of them over their individual performance. Instead, it was those who were the supposed starters that failed to deliver. Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin were both culpable for being largely anonymous. The former for being timid and always looking for the safe pass rather than trying to drive forward. The latter for being way too casual with some of his passes.
I thought Wenger should have tried something different when it was obvious that we were not finding the extra yard of space up front or when we lack the creativity to find the opening. Introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ryo Miyaichi could’ve made a difference. I’m not saying these players are the solutions to the problem but it was hard to see if they could any worse than those two who played in wide positions yesterday. Gamble sometimes works and sometimes don’t, that’s why it’s a gamble.
There’s no denying that we’ve gone into the season being very short in the squad. Questions and rightly so, should be asked of the management why this was not addressed before the start of the season. While the backups played well, the paucity of the squad was further highlighted by the injuries that blighted us. There’s still time to fix this but only 10 days left to do that. At the moment though, it does look rather bleak.