I had the pleasure of going to the game today, well, the first half wasn’t a pleasure but the second was. One thing I will say, and that is people talk about a lack of atmosphere at the Emirates, but for me that isn’t true. Yes there are times that the crowd aren’t as loud, but the stadium doesn’t hold the sound, and many times you can hear fans from other parts of the stadium chanting and it moves around the stadium, but I was fortunate to be around some rowdy people, with a big voice, so from where I was there was plenty of atmosphere.
Player of the Month in safe hands!
Before the game Szczesny was awarded with the Arsenal player of the Month for August, which I feel is fair as there isn’t one player that has really been consistent for Arsenal, but I joked with my friend, that Arsenals player of the month is a goalkeeper that has conceded the most goals in the Premiership, that says a lot. But joking aside, that is more down to the defence than the goalkeeper.
Remember, Pass and Move.
The first half got under way and within a minute Arsenal could have been down, but thanks to Szczesny Arsenal didn’t concede yet another goal. Arsenal didn’t seem to settle into the game straight away, but neither did Bolton and the first 15minutes seemed for lack or a better work, bitty.
Bolton were hit by an injury to N’Gog, that saw him go off and Davies take his place, which isn’t what Bolton wanted to happen, and honestly I am surprised that Davies came on and it wasn’t Tuncay, as I would have thought his movement would have caused Arsenals defence problems, but that wasn’t going to be the first time today that I thought that a manager should have made a different substitution. Arsenal also had a good chance to score, but didn’t manage to take it.
The lack of movement by the Arsenal players was a real concern, as Bolton were not threatening, only causing problems on the rare counter attack they had. The way I saw it, Arteta was playing to deep, taking in role in the centre of midfield to literal. Song was having a good game disrupting Bolton’s possession and moved on the on, but when it went to Ramsey or Arteta, the were not further up, and van Persie was dropping deep to get the ball, but the Walcott and Gervinho who stagnant out wide and it was up to van Persie to drive forward. Arsenal are synonymous with pass and move and with their players always finding space, but in the first 45 minutes it was the complete opposite.
Walcott for me, and the people that were around me, seemed to come to the same conclusion, that Walcott was not making any runs and wasn’t committing himself. When he did come to get the ball he was doing so by coming into the midfield where someone like Arteta or Ramsey should have been and didn’t do anything to help progress the attack forward and was closed down. With the lack of movement from Walcott and Gervinho still finding his feet in the side and with van Persie trying to be the striker but also the creative force, the forward line just didn’t seem to be working, and left me feeling like they should maybe try something different.
With the half coming to an end, the fans and I didn’t feel that from that performances that a goal seemed likely and were hoping for a change in the second half. I would have liked to have Frimpong on in the centre of midfield with Song, and have Arteta Ramsey van Persie with either Gervinho or Walcott up front, or even Chamakh as he wouldn’t be straying from his position.
Time to talk
So half time came and we went to get some over priced food and drink, and filled the time checking out the other scores, and with all the other top teams winning, the disappointment of the first half didn’t get any easier to deal with. We talked on what changes we hoped would happen, wanting Walcott to come off and have Arteta move into his position. Even in the que people had their opinions, with one fan saying that its time for Wenger to move on as he is unable to motivate the player again, something to which i disagreed with and when asked who would he have to replace Wenger, he hadn’t seemed to think that far ahead. I argued that Arsenal needed to move away from having wingers, and have more attacking midfielders behind a striker, as Walcott and Gervinho seem lost on the wings, where as players like Benayon and Arteta would be more suited to that role along with van Persie with a more central striker in front of them.
What did he say?
With the interval coming to a close and me and my friend still debating over the half we have watched we got back to our seats, just as the half was kicking off, and lucky we did too, as some were a minute or two late still getting food and drink and missed Arsenal’s explosive start to the half. As we made our way to the seats we asked the people in front who we had already been having some good banter with if any changes had been made, but to our disappointment there were none, but that was soon all forgotten as it wasn’t even a minute into the second half that Arsenal had taken the lead with van Persie scoring.
It was a huge relief to us and to the all the Arsenal fans at the Emirates, what ever Wenger said to the players seemed to have worked a treat as the lack of movement we had been moaning about had changed and Arsenal seemed a lot more alert and Walcott seemed to be making more runs and caused Bolton more problems and that was evident when Wheater halted Walcott’s run and was sent off for doing so. It then it would be a real up hill battle for Bolton from that point on. Petrov, Eagles and Davies had been causing Arsenal some problems, but Bolton had not been creating enough, and then having to take a midfielder in Muamba off and replaced with on loan defender Derek Boyata, things didn’t look like they were going to get any better for Bolton and they didn’t but thank to Jussi Jaaskelainen who really kept Bolton in the game pulling off some great saves that had me and others applauding him while also wondering would another goal come. Twice Jussi had me out of my seat preparing to cheer a goal, only to hold my head in disbelief but praise him for keeping it out.
Arsenal did get their second with van Persie scoring his 2nd of the game, but more importantly his 100th goal for the club which was met by thunderous cheers and applause that went on for some time only coming to an end just after Bolton restarted the game. It was great to be there when such an achievement was made, and to be apart of the fans celebration of that fact. Walcott had a great chance to score the third when he went through one on one from Song’s pass, but he didn’t do well at all, with Jussi saving with his feet.
With the game looking to no longer be a contest Wenger decided to make some changes and by this point everyone seemed to agree that Walcott would be coming off having underperformed, even though he did have a better second half, and we were hoping to see Oxlade-Chamberlain come on, but to our surprise it was Gervinho’s number that came up and Arshavin replaced him.
I still hold out hope for Arshavin, but the same doesn’t go my friend, and others that were at the game who seem to have given up on Arshavin, but in the last few games he seemed to be making more effort, and from when he came on, he fed the ball a few times into dangerous positions, and seemed to be more dangerous than Gervinho with his passing. Arteta was the next to come off and again we were hoping to see AOC after his impressive Carling Cup outing, but he was replaced by Rosicky, who in fairness needs the games to still get match fit and then van Persie was the final change for Arsenal with Chamakh replacing him with the armband falling to Rosicky.
The game may have been dead by this point as a competition, but it was still good to see Arsenal push for another and it was Song that got it, and it was a nice finish too. Song had played well all game breaking up playing, but can pass the ball too, sometimes he may make the wrong pass but on the whole does a good job of it, but the finish showed that he can score too. By the end of the game, it looked like Koscielny was nursing an injury, one that I noticed with about 15 minutes to go, so when the substitution happened and he stayed on I was surprised, but it was Walcott that was more visible with his injury when he pulled up.
Game over and on the way home
With the game over, and we made our way home we talked on the game and both agreed that Mertesacker really seemed have played with more confidence and looks to be settling in, he had good distribution and was calm with the ball, and Koscielny had a better game than he had in previous outings, but also agreed that Walcott, although he had a better second half still didn’t really do enough to merit being a first team player. Some were saying fro him to be an out and out striker and not play out wide, and I agree with that to a degree, as he is not fully effective wide, but I would rather Chamakh upfront with van Persie behind him with Arteta and Benayoun, and then have Song and Frimpong in the centre of midfield. I don’t think that Arsenals formation of 4-3-3 is as effective as it once was, and that it may be time for a change. Arsenals defence looked better and everyone was happen to have kept a clean sheet, the first of the season, but in fairness, Szczesny was not really troubled and the defensive didn’t have to withstand a whole load of attacks, but what they faced they dealt with so there were pluses there for Arsenal. Arsenal will be hoping to build on this game now and get some momentum as they are a club in real need for it at the moment.
All in all, a good day out at the Emirates not just for me, but all Arsenal fans.