Today, we’ll take a break from the series looking at each position within the team. Instead, we’ve got a match concentrate on. While it’s only a friendly, it does bring a lot of talking points that merits discussions. The last of the known pre season friendly and it was a repeat of the same visit to Cologne as we did in the previous pre season.
4-0 is a big scoreline. Even though, Cologne only played their second string side as they have already began life in Bundesliga II, it was still pleasing to see the way we performed. Lukas Podolski was back in his familiar environment and produced a display that matches with him feeling right at home. It was like a proper farewell from him to the home fans and vice versa. Nice to see that he still gets good reception from the Cologne fans.
Two goals, one from the penalty spot and the other, finishing off a move that he start. It bodes really well for him, coming into the new season. I still have my doubts over Podolski and what he brings to the Arsenal side. Yesterday’s display takes a step towards proving me wrong, something which I’ll gladly accept if it was to the benefit of Arsenal Football Club. Though, he got the two goals, we must not forget about another player who also got 2 goals in the corresponding fixture last season.
I’m not saying that Podolski will turn out to be another Gervinho. I’m just saying, we should be cautious with our expectations of him. Speaking of Gervinho, he must like playing in this stadium. After the eye-catching performance against Kitchee, he served up another round of good performance that culminated in him scoring the 4th goal. Utilising his speed, he out-ran the Cologne defender and headed towards goal. Disguising the shot at goal by pretending to look for the pass, well taken is the least we could say about that.
Podolski wasn’t the only new recruit who shone. Olivier Giroud started out front and his performance also caught the eye. Linking up well and holding the ball well too. You can immediately see that he works hard to bring others into play. That cushioned header for Santi Cazorla to shoot at goal shows exactly that. One thing which differentiates him from the likes of Nicklas Bendtner or Marouane Chamakh. He wants to get on the end of things. Whenever he receives the ball short or out wide, he rushes into the penalty box as soon as he releases the ball. Nothing if not pleased to see that.
Last but not least of the new signings, Cazorla was his usual busy self. I say usual in the sense of his style with previous teams and not that I’ve ever seen him play for us. You get what I mean. Confident on the ball and showcasing his ambidextrous abilities, it’s hard not to get excited over what we have. A player who’s comfortable on either foot and is not afraid to make both the easy and difficult passes with either foot. A few times, he threaded Giroud through, only for the opposition keeper to foil the French forward.
One question was answered last night as Robin van Persie took to the field for the first time in a match for Arsenal, since his ill-advised statement. Some news articles used the word muted. Perhaps mixed is a better word for it. It was a cross between boos and support for him. The Arsenal Player commentary team claims that it was down to a Dutch player being in a German stadium. That is as ridiculous as they come. Yeah, I’m sure all Dutch players in the Bundesliga gets these boos as well.
I have no doubt that some of those, or maybe even a majority of those comes from Arsenal fans. Fans who didn’t take to kindly to his statement. To be fair, some sang his song, hence the word “mixed”. I’m not someone who condones booing. Especially not when the team is playing. However, this is a friendly match and after what has happened, I don’t blame some fans for reacting that way. I myself was livid at some of the messages and banners that I seen parading around the Bukit Jalil Stadium when Arsenal played Malaysia.
In any case, we know no further about his future than before. Only 6 more days before the season starts. I hope it gets sorted before then. Coming back to the positives, something remarkable happened in the first half. We were actually very threatening from corners, every single of them. Cologne was not deal with it very well but it was also good to see us offering some threat from those set pieces. Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker combining to good effect as the first goal was created. A move that Steve Bould himself would be proud of.
It is all looking very positive from the Arsenal point of view and like so many others, I can’t wait for the season to get started. What we have shown yesterday was depth, squad depth. Barring some minutes for Podolski, it was a completely different 11 players that played each half. That each side on their own, looks very very decent, is a big improvement from last season
Light is beginning to come through the cloud.