Well, that was some game of football, wasn’t it?
Despite an element of disappointment that we didn’t go on and beat Man City, having come from behind, yet also relief that they didn’t nick the three points at the death, which they could easily have done, Debuchy’s injury aside, my assessment of Saturday’s early kick off is largely a positive one.
Although the commentary team on BT Sport here in the UK told viewers at one point that Man City were “down to the bare bones” due to injuries, and let’s face it, they actually have no idea what that really feels like, lest we forget that they are the Premier League champions and even without Toure and one or two others (bare bones!) are still a very, very strong side.
It was all the more galling then to go a goal down, especially having started so strongly, but our second half comeback was excellent and we scored two brilliant goals.
For me, it might just have been Jack Wilshere’s best game in an Arsenal shirt and he demonstrated drive, power, pace, aggression, skill and vision throughout – adding a goal and an assist to top it all off. Hopefully this is the start of us seeing Jack playing how we have all hoped he eventually would, if he can stay injury-free.
His goal was magnificent, with Arsenal pressing City in midfield to win possession and then breaking forward quickly, Jack skipping past Gael Clichy with ease before clipping the ball over England team mate Joe Hart – a wonderful finish.
It was matched only by that from Alexis when a header reached him in the box and the Chilean volleyed emphatically past Hart to put us 2-1 up – making a very difficult skill look effortlessly simple in the process. That’s what you pay the big money for and as well as all that ability, his work-rate once again was prodigious and impressive.
Perhaps that made Ozil look poor by comparison, for the German once again failed to impose himself on the game, showing only flashes of brilliance and, in more general play, not really getting himself hugely involved. I don’t buy the ‘it’s because he’s playing on the left’ argument, as he really didn’t spend a great deal of time stuck quietly out on the wing and there were certainly chances to influence proceedings, but he just doesn’t seem able to grab them by the scruff of the neck. There’s certainly no doubting his huge talent, so let’s hope his form picks up soon. It is, after all, still very early days in this campaign.
Welbeck made an impressive and hard-working debut I thought, and was unlucky not to score in the first half when a delightful finish over Hart came back off the post, but the biggest talking point for many will still be Debuchy’s injury.
Going down in a heap with no one near him, I really feared the worst and it was good to hear afterwards that nothing is broken. As I write this, the prognosis, not officially confirmed, is two months out, so it’s time for Chambers, Bellerin and, potentially, Hayden to step up to the plate. Could we really not have found another defensive body before the transfer window closed?!
The injury seemed to knock the stuffing out of the team and the equaliser was soft – a free header from a corner, albeit one that Flamini probably would have cleared if Szczesny hadn’t tried to save it. Annoying yes, but with City looking more likely in the closing minutes, the draw was a fair result, I think.
Champions League action gets underway tomorrow with a tough trip to Dortmund first on the fixture list. BvB have been hit by injuries already this season, and a number of key players will be missing, so I think this will be a relatively even contest. Arsenal will take heart having won out there last season but if I was a betting man, which I’m not, I’d plump for a draw, and that would be a good result to come home with.
Until next time, come on you Gunners!