The start of a new season post a World Cup is usually fraught with uneven performances that themselves are dotted with lack of energy, inconsistency, and misreads. I don't know why I was so surprised that those characteristics were so evident at our match against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Throw in four new faces to the squad, and the fact that we had our first opening day win since 2009 ( which was a 6-1 thrashing of Everton), the fact that we came from behind to win in injury time can be taken as a very positive sign.
Crystal Palace was manager-less but one could see the Pulis doctrine ingrained in them. They were organized, employed rotational fouling, crowded us which made our crisp passing game difficult to play. That and the fact that our passing was woeful had a direct impact on the lack of fluidity in our game.
Some quick High's and Low's
Calum Chambers - He's only 19? He's only 19 and he's ours. His calmness on the ball, his reading of the game really belies his age and inexperience. I remember thinking the same when I watched Cesc for the first time (sorry I brought up the "C" word). Only this time, I don't think we have to worry about him going back home to Barcelona. Wenger can't seem to make up his mind about where he's going to play him. He seems as surprised as us that Cal is this good...more to come I hope. Definitely a High. Possible Low? Wenger may think he doesn't have to get a CB or DM.
Koz scoring. His was a brilliant run to find space when Calum provided a distraction to the defense. I also loved how he celebrated Rambo's goal. He seemed more excited than when he scored his own. The Low? He fell asleep for the Hangeland goal.
Olivier made a difference when he came on. He provided more of a focal point than Yaya and held up the ball as we need him to do. His part in the winning goal was pretty much what Ollie does well. Unlike the Low of our baby giraffe. Yaya may have started because he's fitter than Giroud, but one couldn't tell from his lack of energy. He's now sporting a strained hamstring, which means Giroud will start against Besiktas. And that's good as far as I'm concerned.
Our right side combined well. Debuchy and Sanchez played some great back heels and one-twos. It was really fun to watch. Sanchez didn't have his best game, he'll need time to settle, but in a game of misreads, it was refreshing to see two of the new guys get along so well. And the Low? Ox and Santi who have played together going on three seasons, had three misreads in a row. I'm not sure who that was down to, but if I were to guess, I'd have to put the burden on Santi who had one of his bad days. Baaaaad days.
Aaron Ramsey can't seem to stop scoring goals. And he also did not have a good game. He himself admitted that in his post game interview. But it's important to note that in the final closing of the minutes when Palace were tiring and our own players were showing a lack of fitness, Ramsey made sure he was in the right place at the right time and finished well. There is no Low for Rambo (and yes, I made that rhyme on purpose).
So now we are off to Turkey for our first Champions League qualifying leg. Koz may be hurt, Per may have to play prematurely, Yaya is out, but I think coming from behind and winning on Saturday will give us the boost we need to get a least a point from Besiktas. See you here post match.
Come on you Gunners! And take care you Gooners.