Despite the sale of van Persie and the impending departure of Song I was quite optimistic about our chances for the new season. We’ve signed some real quality in Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud after years of buying cheap youngsters and our squad now has depth, so when the inevitable injuries pile up we will still be able to field a good side.
But even though the manager has changed his policy in the transfer market, he hasn’t changed his policy of sending out poorly motivated prima-donnas who expect to stroll about for 90 minutes and be handed three points simply because they are technically superior to their opponents.
How many times will we under-estimate teams like Sunderland? Everybody in the ground knew how they would approach the game and that we’d need to play at a high tempo to tire them out and try to find space behind their massed defence. Yet we ambled around the pitch passing it sideways and backwards while Sunderland sat back and soaked up what little pressure we could be bothered to muster.
I could not believe how slowly we started today. I even wondered if the players thought this was the first game of the Emirates Cup instead of the first game of the season. I seriously think I could’ve motivated the players better than Wenger. It was the perfect platform to show van Persie that we’re better than he thinks, that he was wrong to leave, but instead we proved his point because unforutnately this side won’t win anything until a serious shift in mental attitude occurs.
Idiotic bloggers who keep referring to the Dutchman as van P€r$i€ need to open their eyes. Last season he was a winner playing in a team of losers, now he is a winner playing in a team of winners. I hope he has a poor season, but I hold no grudge.
The only bright spark was the performance of Santi Cazorla. What a classy player! If we’d signed the likes of him a couple of years ago van Persie and Fabregas might’ve stayed, but that’s another story. He was bright and inventive, always wanting the ball and using it intelligently. The fans were rubbing their hands in glee at finally having a creative playmaker to replace Fabregas, while the board were rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of getting £30m for him next summer.
Diaby reflects the mood of 60,000 frustrated fans
Cazorla was at the heart of the few impressive moves Arsenal could be arsed to put together. The best one was with 10 minutes to go when he teed up Giroud with a clever flick and the French forward (after an equally impressive piece of movement) found himself with a free shot from 12 yards. Alas, he demonstrated the same lack of composure everybody bar van Persie showed last season and blazed his effort wide.
By then he’d come on for Podolski, who had a quiet afternoon. The German received little service as we lethargically went through the motions and there’ll be lots more to come from him once he settles in. I hope Wenger keeps him in the van Persie role and doesn’t play him out wide because he looked poor on the flanks for Germany in the Euros.
The only other player to catch the eye was Gervinho. He beat his man time and time again, but often chose the wrong option afterwards. If he had an end product the guy would be a world-beater — let’s hope that’s to come.
People will undoubtedly say we didn’t score because van Persie wasn’t playing, but aside from Giroud’s miss it wasn’t bad finishing that let us down today, it was not being able to make enough chances. The crossing was poor and we ran out of ideas around the box. I’d have liked to see Giroud and Podolski up front together for the last 20 minutes but that would mean our manager having to think on his feet and we all know the stubborn Frenchman rarely changes formation. Plan B? What Plan B?
I haven’t bothered to listen to Wenger’s post-match comments — to be honest I’ve heard it all before. He’s a genius at working the transfer market, but his inability to motivate a squad he pampers too much is seriously hindering our progress.
So a new season, a new striker, a new captain, a new playmaker. But the same mental frailties mean it will all count for nothing. On this uninspiring showing there’ll be no silverware this season, we’ll face our annual battle for fourth place and then we’ll sell some more stars next summer. Ker-ching!
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