The 2-2 draw at Everton sees Arsenal finish week two with four points on the board. Given the small margins at this level we could have quite easily rolled the dice again and we'd have one solitary point to our name. What is obvious to me is that we have not seen Arsenal at anywhere near our fluid best in these early weeks. The world cup tournament and subsequent absence of time and friendly matches has meant that a reconfigured Arsenal team is still effectively going through pre season into the league season. I'm pretty sure that Arsène cannot be happy about that but what he must be rather pleased about is the attitude of his troops.
For years now we have been told that Arsenal cannot roll up their sleeves and dig out points when the technique fails, those views are fairly justifiable when looking through the history books. Would a misfiring team of Adebayor, Bendtner, Nasri, Fabregas and Song turned the game around yesterday? I don't believe so but the mentality of this team cannot be argued with. The desire of the team has been largely ignored instead many observers choosing the old fashioned route of criticising everyone and everything.
I must have been viewing with my special red tinted specs yesterday but I was largely impressed with the improvement in our combination play when comparing our display against Crystal Palace last weekend. We are missing that extra bit of sharpness in our final pass or execution of shot but those are the most difficult parts of the attacking game to come by and I hope that is now only a game or two away. I thought we were giving at least as good as we got until we gave away a pretty poor goal.
Mesut Özil did not track Coleman's run sufficiently and understandably Mertesacker and Chambers were not on the same wavelength, the latter not stepping up with the former before the cross came in. Not that the assistant referee would have given the call in our favour as was the case pretty often during the game.
Before the kick off I was delighted to see Alexis start the game as centre forward, it's been something I've been looking forward to since we signed him and given just how poor Giroud was in midweek, it was a welcome change but it just did not work. Much in the way (minus less endeavor) that Lukas Podolski did not click through the middle on his debut against Sunderland a few years back. Alexis made a number of runs that were not picked up by his team mates, neither did he link the midfield and attack very well in central positions but this is the problem with new signings. Signing top class players is not an instant fix, it often takes new player and team mates time to adapt, especially with a pre season like our own. We will see if Arsène pursues that plan in future.
The Everton second goal should not have stood. I should remove these wonderful looking specs I have on but I cannot remember Arsenal having scored too many goals where two refereeing/assistant referee mistakes were made in the one move. Mertesacker was clearly and very obviously fouled by Lukaku, Chambers attempted a tackle that only Koscielny could win in this Arsenal squad and would have been better served standing his ground but once he dived in he had removed two of our centre backs from that counter attack and Steven Naismith scored from an offside position. At 1-0 down just before half time you could argue that we had needlessly over committed ourselves but the goal should not have stood regardless.
At half time Arsène sent on Oliver Giroud for Alexis which I thought was interesting. I would have thought he would have moved Alexis wide but instead replaced him entirely. Oliver Giroud was exactly what the team had missed during the first half. Giroud is a team player who when performing near his best makes others around him better players due to his role for the team.
Check out his individual touches in this video
Our attacks were breaking down in the first half but in the second Giroud had improved us in the final third. Seconds into the half Chamberlain floated over a lovely pass/cross but Giroud had to take it early due to space running out and Everton pressure but the shot was too high to control properly and it flew over the bar.
He could have done better when played in by Mesut Özil but shot at the keeper and had another chance when he lashed a shot just wide of the post from outside the box. On a good day Giroud may have Sanogoed the place up and stuff. Another substitute and another player who had a stinker in midweek was Santi Cazorla, with ten or so minutes of the clock left, Özil had rolled the ball back to him and darted into the box, I think Santi was looking to play the ball back to Özil in between the Everton players but the pass was not on so instead he opted for the step over and drove the ball on his weaker foot (Haha) across the box for Ramsey to stab home in his customary predatory style.
I just had a feeling that we would do it from that point. Everton were dropping deeper and deeper and we were knocking on the door. I had turned my phone on moments earlier as it had been charging, it then alerted me to Ramsey's goal from earlier. A few minutes later it had made the same sound and I refused the urge to check if it was yet another alert from a new app I had installed but secretly I was hoping it was. When Ramsey had blasted a cross way beyond everyone my stream buffered for a second and my heart sank. We needed much better delivery than that but when my stream returned Giroud had headed in the equaliser. On the replay Nacho had done brilliantly to retrieve the ball and cross perfectly for Giroud.
If there was to be a winner I am certain it would have come from us as we had our tails up. I have read a few reports today that say that Everton were wonderful and Arsenal utterly horrific. I just didn't see it like that at all and I guess I am in the minority given what I have read on the game.
While statistics are by no means the only guide to go by the following don't point to one team being comprehensively outplayed.
A few words on some individuals. It seems as if the' Arsenal have not won a trophy in x years' has been replaced by 'Hey I need to have a negative opinion on Jack Wilshere' it is boring and ridiculous. Wilshere is no worse or better than the rest of our players at this stage. We are 2 league games into the season. Having said that, I would have replaced Jack with Mesut Özil in a central role where his range of passing can be used across the full pitch rather than the left channel. I hope that Arsène played him there to ease him back rather than to fit him into the 4-1-4-1 system.
We need to improve our chance creation but that is visibly getting better game to game, the defensive lapses need work also. Hopefully we'll have Koscielny and a sharper Mertesacker back for Wednesday. A battling away point at Everton while the team are only going to get better. I'm happy with that, don't know about you.