After the dust has settled after a home defeat to Southampton in last night’s Capital One cup tie as always it is now time to put things in perspective, it was as expected a much changed lineup from the 3-0 win at Aston Villa. The main talking points will be the depth of squad available to Arsene Wenger, defensively it was a worry with Francis Coquelin Defensive Midfield player by trade was playing Left Back, Calum Chambers and prospect Isaac Hayden were Centre Back partners for the night with Hector Bellerin completing the youthful back four as he played his usual right back position. Three of the back four were only 19 years of age with Coquelin being the oldest at 23.
The night got off to a good start with Summer signing Alexis Sanchez scoring a fine free kick from over 20 yards which left Saints keeper Fraser Forster rooted to the spot in the 14th minute, soon after Southampton were let back into the game when a poor challenge from Tomas Rosicky resulted in a penalty which the impressive Tadic converted. Clyne made it 2-1 before half time with a bullet like effort from 35 yards, A Southampton corner was unsuccessfully cleared and Clyne fired home a thunderous strike but was given time, space and was unchallenged before he drilled his showed past a helpless Ospina. Arsenal had chances to pull level but the Arsenal faithful left the Emirates disappointed.
Abou Diaby put in a good performance in his first game back for the senior side in 18 months and lasted 67 minutes until he was replaced by Santi Cazorla, the everlasting question is can the French Midfield man stay fit. When he has managed to put a string of games together he has been the type of player that can be the difference in the big games, this has happened too infrequent and you would have to ask yourself is this a now or never moment in Diaby’s career? For huge parts Diaby bossed the Midfield area and made a huge difference against a relatively unchanged Southampton side.
Isaac Hayden looked comfortable in possession alongside Chambers and they looked like they could be the future for Arsenal as a possible pairing, they are both 19 years of age and obviously have a lot to learn but the more chances they are given the better they can become.
Jack Wilshere continued his good showing this season by being the most likely to create the bulk of Arsenal’s chances on the night, his combination play with Diaby and Alexis Sanchez was encouraging, Wilshere looks hungry this season but the only thing missing from last night’s performance was a goal.
Campbell looked sharp without really being a constant threat, he showed some good touches but needs more game time under his belt, something that could apply to the majority of the starting XI
I was baffled at the use of Coquelin as a left back, his positional player was not the best and he got caught time after time by Southampton’s counter attacks. This is more down to Wenger’s misuse of the player more than the player being at fault.
Tomas Rosicky was awful, gave the ball away time and time again, I know this will upset some of the Arsenal fans but I do not understand why Rosicky is still at the club, he is clearly nowhere near Wenger’s plans I was almost shocked to see him handed a starting place and the Captain’s armband. Rosicky was at fault for the equaliser by conceded a stupid penalty as he struggled to keep pace with the game.
Lukas Podolski didn’t impress me and he hasn’t for a while, I do not personally see what he brings to the side other than he is a bit of a joker, not sure that alone merits his wages. He is not a Centre Forward and even if he is deployed wide he very rarely has the pace required to trouble the opposing defence and I for one was not surprised to see him very close to leaving in the Summer. many will say thst he has not been given a fair run but I would have to disagree, Wenger states that Podolski is the best finisher at the club so you would now have to ask yourself why he doesn’t start. Podolski was more unfit than Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil upon returning from the World Cup, bare in mind he didn’t even feature for his Country which leads me to believe the desire to train or impress just isn’t there.
So what have we learned? well as many have said previously the lack of squad depth is a worry especially Defensively, Midfield wise there are a lot of similar type of Midfielders at the club which is not always a good thing, this has sometimes made our play very predictable and easy to defend against. A fit Diaby will be a massive boost and a blessing because other than that it is a case of being over reliant on two ageing holding Midfield players in the shape of Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta which automatically makes me question the club’s title contender credentials. Every contender has a top class Midfielder or two that do the ugly things well. Manchester City have the likes of Yaya Toure and Fernandinho while Chelsea have Cesc Fabregas who drops deep also not forgetting Ramires and Matic. That is what for me makes the possibility of Arsenal winning League a step too far already this season, it is an area that has once again been ignored no matter how many fans, ex players and commentators elude to it.
It could well be a blessing going out of the Capital One cup early and I understand the need to prioritise, but it was a more than a little uninspiring the way that Southampton simply out-muscled, out-fought and out-played the players that were chosen. Unsurprisingly Wenger has refused to admit that the loss was a result of inexperience when it clearly was, I tend not to have a problem with that if anything I was more disappointed with the more experienced players that were picked.
While we are talking about strange team selections anyone else surprised by how little Chuba Akpom was used on the night?, he has caught fire in the under 21’s this season with 6 in 4 to say I was disappointed he didn’t start is an understatement to say the least. He makes some very intelligent runs and has pace to burn. the forward line looked far too imbalanced with three naturally wide players in a front three. This once again shows Wenger’s lack of tactical awareness and also his minimal knowledge of his own players, this is something that we have seen from time to time and has raised it’s ugly head already this season with the calamitous idea of Ozil on the wing, thankfully that appears to have fallen away hoping to never be seen again.
What’s done is done and the best thing about it being the least of priorities is that very few players will be on the team sheet for Saturday and eleven chosen will be unaffected. There are bigger fish to fry come Saturday with the visit of the perennial pretenders and underachievers Tottenham, many of the big names will return as the Gunners look to continue their unbeaten record.
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