A brief, hopefully interesting summary of my views on the players yesterday:
Szczesny: Go here and go to 1:00. That is a fantastic, fantastic stop. Would Joe Hart be proud of that? Edwin Van Der Sar? Seaman? Banks? Yes. Arsenal’s player of the month is a class act and dominated his area in the second half, providing much needed assurance behind new pairing Koscielny and Mertesacker, only running into traffic when coming to claim once, and Graham luckily put the loose ball over the bar.
Sagna: I’m a huge Bacary Sagna fan. The ground he covers is monstrous, but he is a monster slayer and yesterday he played as he normally does – solidly.
Mertesacker: A decent first game. His lack of pace showed on occasions, but so did the clean tackling he’s renowned for, and the crowd positively delighted in the fact we had an option from corners…even if we didn’t actually find him. His positioning was good in the main, and he seems a fine partner for Koscielny in Vermaelen’s absence.
Koscielny: Some seem to dislike the quiet Frenchman, but a composed performance was only marred by a rash challenge and a booking. Perhaps “taking one for the team”, but not in the best area. Kos and Mert made a good pairing.
Gibbs: In Gibbs and Santos we’ve good competition for LB, and if Kieran can stay fit, he’ll give the Brazilian a run for his money. He was left unsupported a couple of times and outnumbered 2-1, but he tracked, tackled, shepherded and got forward well. The cross for Chamakh was superb, and better than anything by…
Walcott: He’s not a Winger is he? More of a whinger, when out wide and faced with beating a couple of men and trying to get a cross in. He’s a forward/striker for me, best when running behind defences and poaching (see here, against Udinese and here against…Udinese). Poor quality vids aside, you get the picture.
Ramsey: A good showing from the young Wales captain.It’s unfair to expect him to ignite every Arsenal game, but he looked lively, and his passing was neat. He lost the ball once or twice, but equally lost a trailig opponent with some fine agility. Might have done better/squared to RVP with his shot from Arteta’s pass, but a promising performance.
Frimpong: Pumped everyone up against Liverpool, but looked a little way off yesterday. Again, he’s young and the consistency will come.
Arteta: Looks a consummate professional and a fine addition. Asked to be the main creative player, he did what you would expect from a man of his Premier League experience, and performed well while appearing very much at home with our passing game.
Arshavin: Played well in the week for Russia, and he put in a good shift at the Grove. Lost the ball a couple of times, but worked back far more than the Arshavin of last season, made some very smart runs and moves between the Swansea midfield and defence, and reacted superbly to score the goal from a tight angle. I think he’ll benefit from Arteta.
RVP: The Captain cut a quietly frustrated figure up front, and a change of formation may suit him better, but he dug in and worked hard for his club. Perhaps he felt he could have been played in by Ramsey and Walcott in the first half, but but he might have played in the former in the second, instead opting for a delicious drive that nibbled the outside of the far post.
Coquelin: The backup for Song and Frimpong, he showed a bite and smartness in his tackle, and looks to have an engine. Keep an eye on this lad.
Chamakh: I’m a lover not a hater, but he’s a confidence player. Unquestionable work-rate, good holding of the ball and link up play, and how I wish the guy had put away the cross from Gibbs. He needs a goal, but should take heart.
Benayoun: Another consummate professional who looked to get involved and work back where needed. I don’t see him starting many games this season, but I’ve always liked Benayoun. He’s a “footballer’s footballer” I think, and was willing to work and do his best for the team.
So that’s that. On to Dortmund, and another game in which we’ll need to work for a win. Was it ever not so? I don’t think so. I just think we’ve been lucky enough to think otherwise.