Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arsenal 1-1 AC Milan (Emirates Cup): Post Match Thoughts

Our first match in the Emirates Cup ended 1-1 against AC Milan today. The goals came from our new boy Marouane Chamakh and Milan's Alexandre Pato. While this competition is absolutely meaningless, I like watching it because it's very exciting. It's unique in that you not only earn points for winning or drawing, but also for each goal you score so it definitely promotes attacking football. I don't take the results to heart as this is just a meaningless preseason tournament, although it's interesting to note that in the two years we won the Emirates Cup we went on to challenge for the title in the subsequent Premiership seasons. When we won in 2007 we finished 3rd in the Premiership the season after, just 4 points behind winners Manchester United and when we won last year we went on to...well you know...push for the title.

My intention is not to dissect this match to it's minutest form but I'll talk about some of the things I noticed while watching today.
  • Why did Lukasz Fabianski start? You'd figure that since we play Milan today and Celtic tomorrow, we'd field our stronger team today and a lesser one tomorrow. Manuel Almunia was our first string keeper last season and he's clearly the better keeper of the two. Is it that he's being sold? I don't want to get ahead of myself here but it just struck me as odd that he didn't feature at all today and featured only once since we started our preseason training. It's not like he went to the World Cup and needed a rest either. I'll speak more on the keeper issue a bit later.
  • Marouane Chamakh has bags of skill. He shows lots of intelligence on and off the ball. He has great technique and nice touches. He roams the pitch a lot and has a high work rate. His goal came from a great finish which saw him tap the ball under Abbiati and into the net. He linked up well with Arshavin and Nasri today and I look forward to seeing more of the three of them working together as well as Chamakh linking up with Fabregas as the season progresses. He has the skills and technique I've been saying we've lacked up top since Thierry Henry left. He has that unpredictability about him that I'm sure will catch a lot of defenders out this season. To me he's a poor man's Cristiano Ronaldo. I just hope those mugs that play for teams such as Blackburn and Bolton don't resort to breaking his legs because they can't take him off the ball. I still think he needs to get rid of that haircut though. He looks like his stylist used a knife and a fork on him.
  • Laurent Koscielny, so far, looks to be a good ball winner. He's not exactly the biggest of players but he can use his size to his advantage as it will aid him when chasing attackers around the pitch. He looks pretty speedy from what I saw today and he was always busy breaking up a lot of plays.
  • Emmanuel Frimpong is very strong and hard to get off the ball. This is attributed to his low center of gravity. I noticed that he spreads the ball really well. I'd like to see more of him this season. I still think we need to bring in a back up defensive midfielder to Song but I'd like to see Frimpong given a chance as the third string defensive midfielder with Denilson used in a more attacking role, which he's more comfortable with.
  • Johan Djourou came on in place of Frimpong at defensive midfield. This is interesting to me because I've been saying Denilson isn't a defensive midfielder and shouldn't be playing there. It's why I think we need a new defensive midfielder. I remember when Djourou returned from his loan spell at Boringham he said he wants a future role as a defensive midfielder because it's where he likes to play. Now I'm wondering if Wenger is considering him for this role.
  • We conceded another set piece goal. This is something we still need to work on. Last season we conceded 41 goals and too many of them were from balls into the box over the top. Some measure of blame for the goal has to go to Lukasz Fabianski as well. He was caught wearing concrete boots and panicked when the ball came in across the face of his goal. Wenger was paying attention to his performance because he is weighing up the option of using him as our first string goalkeeper in the coming season instead of Almunia. He has also been looking to bring a new keeper in and two of the names being banded about are Mark Schwarzer and Federico Marchetti. Fabianski wouldn't have helped his cause to keep in contention for the starting spot with that goal he let in.
We play Celtic tomorrow and we're currently tied on 2 points with Milan while Celtic and Lyon are tied on 3 points. The second day of the Emirates Cup is always more exciting than the first, because it always come down to the wire and a set amount of goals are always needed for the teams playing last to try to win the cup. I'll be back with more thoughts after the Celtic match tomorrow. For now, tell me in the comments section what you think of what you saw today. Dust!

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