Arsenals final pre-season friendly against FC Cologne before they kick off their Premiership season next week against Sunderland saw Arsenal run out 4-0 winner in a game that had it’s positives and negatives for Arsenal fans.
Arsenal ran out 4-0 winners and there could have and should have been more goals in the game. Cologne were unlucky to not have had a goal as it was clear that Lehmann extravagant shot hit the bar and crossed the line, even the replay showed as much, but there was no fuss made when the ball bounced out by the cologne players and play continued. Arsenal themselves could have had more goals also if it hadn’t have been for Cologne’s goalkeeper in the first half, Timo Horn, who made a string of saves to deny Arsenal and Giroud on at least two occasions.
The first half saw Arsenal start with Mannone in goal with Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs and Yennaris in front of him in defence. In midfield Arsenal had Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain and new signing Santi Cazorla and up front saw Giroud accompanied by Podolski on the left wing and Walcott on the right.
Arsenal started the game brightly and soon were in the lead when Vermaelen headed in Mertesacker’s flick-on from Cazorla’s corner kick. It seemed to be a planned and well executed corner, one the tried a few times during the match. I don’t know if this has something to do with Steve Bould, but I can only assume that it is. Arsenal fans in Cologne didn’t have to wait long to be cheering another goal as 10 minutes later Oxlade-Chamberlain would win a penalty that new signing and ex Cologne striker Lukas Podolski would convert. Apart from a small smile and a short burst of an arm gesture close to his body to celebrate the goal, Podolski didn’t react to scoring against his former side and showed his old fans the respect a former player should. I should also mention that during the 10th minute the Cologne fans had burst into noise and applause for their former front man. Podolski would go on to make it 3-0 just before half time when he played the ball down the line for Gibbs down the left hand side. It was a great pass from the centre of midfield and then ran into the box to latch on Gibbs’ low cross to which he didn’t celebrate again.
At half time there were wholesale changes with 10 changes made. Szczesny, Abou Diaby, Koscielny, Andre Santos, Alex Song, Johan Djourou, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Gervinho, Serge Gnabry coming on and only Lukas Podolski staying on. With the changes it took a little while for Arsenal to find their rhythm but Gervinho was a constant threat on the wing, but on the whole was put in a very contrasting performance. He used his pace well but too often hung onto the ball for far too long. He did however score a very nice goal. With some quick passing and a nice one-two with Lukas Podolski, Gervinho ran onto Podolski’s pass and when he collected the ball, dribbled into the box, cut back shaping up as if he was going to pass it back, then took the shot and scored passed the ‘keeper at his near post. With only a small gap to aim for the Ivorian did well to score. On the 69th minute Podolski made way for Robin van Persie and Gnabry came off for Chamakh. With van Persie coming on he also took the captains armband, but from what I watched he didn’t need to put it on. From his body language and the way he moved away from or passed his way out of any goal scoring opportunities said it all. From that run out it was quite evident that he has no intention in staying, and if Arsène Wenger doesn’t sell him and he plays like that then it will have all been for nothing. Near the end of the game Gervinho had a great chance to score a second, but once again, like many times last season, he took one touch too many and the chance was gone. If eh had lashed at it first time it would have been a certain goal, if on target of course. In the end the 4-0 score line was a fair representation of Arsenal’s dominance, but as I mention before there were chances for more goals.
Who impressed me and who didn’t.
Well as you will have noticed from what I have written Robin van Persie didn’t impress me at all, but it wasn’t just his performance that was unimpressive as Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin also didn’t do anything. And I don’t say that meaning anything meaningful I mean anything at all. Arshavin had one run near the end of the game, but apart from that he put in the same lazy performances Arsenal fans have come to expect. He only comes alive when the ball is meters away from him, and for the people that say he may be playing like that as he isn’t playing in his preferred attacking midfield position or behind the striker. Well today he was, and he didn’t do anything for me to see Arsène Wenger wanting him in the squad next week. I have already touched on Gervinho’s inconsistent performance but another player also didn’t impress and that was Alex Song. Last season I was extremely impressed with him, especially his range of passing, and he showed that today. He sprayed the ball around the park for Gervinho, Podolski and Gnabry but his attitude didn’t impress me. He looked very sluggish with Diaby looking very bright and up for the game in comparison, and wasn’t tracking back enough. He looked like another player unwilling to push himself for the team, and truthfully looked like a player that wanted out. In contrast there were many players that look good for Arsenal and that is something Arsenal fans will be happy about.
Podolski had a great game, as did Giroud. He may not have scored but if it hadn’t have been for their keeper then he could have had a brace. He showed good work ethic, and is strong in the air, and at 6’4 he should do. He and Podolski look to have settled very well into Arsenal’s style of play and already look to be great buys by Wenger. I was again impressed with what I saw of Coquelin as well as Nico Yennaris. Jenkinson had yet another solid game in an Arsenal shirt and one performance in particular Arsenal fans will be glad to hear about was Diaby’s. He looked strong and his passing was looking good. He didn’t surge forward as much as he has in the passed but still showed his dribbling abilities on a few occasions. I was more impressed with the way he say back and played the short passes forward to the more attacking players. Wenger may see Diaby as the defensive midfielder Arsenal want and therefore not sign M’Vila or Capoue who he has been linked with all summer long. How well Diaby would be in that position all season long I don’t know, but today he did a good enough job.
There was one player that really stood out and that was Santi Cazorla. Within the first 10 minutes it was clear that Arsenal and Arsène Wenger have done one of their best transfer deals in recent years. The fact that he has only been training with the team for a week and that he was linking up with players so well way key, but his passing and dribbling ability were clear to see. In that first half with Podolski, Giroud and Walcott with Cazorla behind them it was clear to see that life after Robin van Persie is not going to be as bad as people first thought.
Okay so this was only a friendly and you cant judge a team on performances like these, but if Arsenal play like that next week against Sunderland then I will would expect Arsenal to get off to a winning start, and Arsenal fans will have soon forgotten about Robin van who.
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