The Emirates cup is over and we at Goonerhead.com have decided to highlight 5 things that we have deduced from the performance of Arsenal in the 2 matches we played in the competition. In the first part, we take a look at 5 key things we have learnt about Arsenal against Napoli.
The essence of pre-season is in two folds: to get the team in shape, build fitness and to spot the weakness in the team with the aim of correcting it. The Asian tour served the first purpose while the Emirates Cup will be addressing the second. Little wonder we breezed through our Asian foes with some panache. The Emirates cup
is the reality check Wenger needs to know that the team is not good enough to mount even a flattering challenge for the EPL and even our pseudo trophy. New faces are needed.
When I saw the list of invited teams, I was excited, seeing the calibre of teams, they were European juggernauts, not neophytes. I knew Napoli would be the more difficult of the two teams we will be playing owing to the calibre of their players and status of their league.
The match started with Arsenal bossing the game, creating the clearer chances from the early exchanges. The best chance fell to youngster Serge Gnabry unfortunately, he fluffed his lines. The Gunners were hit on the counter attack and a routine long ball was mishandled by Jenkinson and gifted Insigne a chance which was just too good to miss.
The Gunners had the chance to level matters almost immediately when they were awarded a penalty. Podolski’s resultant kick was well saved by Pepe Reina. They doubled their tally when a swift counter attack and a defence splitting pass found Pandev who stylishly rounded Fabianski and sublimely curled the ball in.
Second half saw the introduction of the seasoned legs ( Sagna, Arteta and Walcott) and with their introduction came Arsenal’s dominance which eventually resulted in the equalizers. The first, an acrobatic effort from in-form Frenchman Olivier Giroud. The effort left Reina in the wilderness and the second, a close range follow-up header from Koscielny after Reina had saved his Mertesacker’s fine header. Both center-backs combining well again, Fulham games comes to mind swiftly.
So much for the general analysis of the match, but beyond it, I spotted some salient issues I will like ro share with you faithful Gunners. Please come with me
5 things we learnt about Arsenal Against Napoli
Defence frailties showed up again.
The two goals Arsenal conceded were owing to defensive sluggishness. The first which was a harmless ball over the top should have been headed out to safety by Jenkinson but instead of that, he allowed the ball to bounce on his head, something that left him searching for it. The ball fell kindly to Insigne and the rest is history. Jenkinson’s blunder is a deja vu of Kolo Toure’s gaffe against Bayern Munich many seasons ago.
For the second goal, Fabianski should take the blame. He didn’t time his rushing out to perfection. Did it too early. As at the time he rushed out, a defender was closing in on Pandev. If he had stayed back, Pandev would have opted for a shot which he would have stood a better chance saving. Looking at that goal, I believe we
need an experienced goalkeeper. Our shot stoppers are guilty of school boy errors.
Gnabry failed to live up to the hype. Missed 2 of our first half best chances On the Asian tour, three youngsters stole the show: Gnabry, Akpom and Zelalem. Pundits were expecting them to also steal the show at the Emirates Cup. Of the young trio, Gnabry was the only one that got the nod to start and he did in place of Walcott. He didn’t do badly in holding the ball and making crosses but his finishing was wayward. Two decent chances fell to him but he blew them both. His exit which was Walcott’s entry aided Arsenal’s comeback. As for Chuba Akpom, he did well in the few minutes he got. Zelalem didn’t get off the bench. Hopefully, we’ll see him and Sanogo tomorrow.
Ramsey failed in the DM role
The Welshman occupied the defensive midfield role in the absence of Arteta who started off on the bench. He was poor in the role as he offered the defence little or no protection. For the second goal, he was out of position and that allowed the through ball to locate Pandev. If he wants to stand any chance of playing that role,
he needs to heighten his discipline. I still maintain both Arteta and Ramsey are pseudo defensive midfielders, we need a natural destroyer.
Higuain isn’t the striker that we need
When Arsenal’s pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain fell through, fans blamed Wenger but seeing the Argentine play today, I harbour no regret that we didn’t splash out 35million Pounds on him provided we get Suarez. Even for 50million, Suarez remains better value for money. Higuain is at best a fox in the box, a poacher but what we need is a versatile attacker who is a constant nuisance in the opposition’s half. When Higuain came on, he hardly got a sniff of the ball no thanks to the fact that Napoli were trying to protect their lead. Suarez is qucker, versatile, more skillful and of course more prolific
Giroud is full of confidence and surely, has improved.
The striker on fire now at Arsenal is Olivier Giroud. He was on fire on the Asian tour, scoring 5 goals in 3 games and against Napoli, he scored a sublime acrobatic effort. It’s obvious the former Montpellier front man has overcome his edginess and anxiety, he is now ready to fire. Hopefully, we will the best of him in the new