Arsenal finally got their season up and running with a tough away win over Crystal Palace. This fixture was always going to be a difficult and there are not many sides in the league that would come out of Selhurst Park with three points this season. So, for me, this was a big big game. I bring you seven lessons we learnt from this game:
BACK TO BASICS
Last season, Arsenal played the second half of the season with style and were on real form. Wenger basically used the same starting eleven for most of that period.
At the beginning of the season, starting with the Community Shield, the boss altered it, putting Carzola on the left. That worked against Chelsea but backfired against West Ham. This time, Wenger went back to status quo and it has worked. Expect the boss not to change it for sometime to come.
WE HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO FINISH
It is critical in this kind of difficult league we find ourselves. We should have blown Palace out of the way so early in the game but had to work had for the win. In the first half, Palace had 4 shots to our 14 and scores were 1-1.
We might not have opportunities like this to atone for our missed opportunities. In games where we might have few chances, being so loose in front of goal might translate to missed chances.
After his mistakes of Matchday One, there must have huge pressure on him to deliver i this game. While he did very well, I still feel he would have done better for the goal. I believe that he would get better with game and would grow into the shirt with time, but he must start showing to gooners that he is worth all the hype.
CLOSING DOWN IS ESSENTIAL
This is one basic rule in defending. Close down your opponent before he pulls the trigger. That is the ABC of defending and for two weeks in a row, we have failed to do that. Zarate scored without any form of closing down and the same thing happened with Ward in yesterday’s game. The way Koscielny turned his back on the ball and not charging down the defender was just good enough.
IS SANCHEZ READY?
Sanchez long football season is well documented and there is no need to start analysing them. It was a shock that he was on the bench against West Ham, an even bigger shock that he played. While Sanchez to did well and forced the own goal, there were some aspects of his game that they were up to standard. The chances he squandered plus the way he allowed Ward to evade him for the goal was so un-Sanchez-like. Trust he would get back to his best.
WENGER HAS LEARNT HIS LESSONS.
There is no doubt that Le Coq was lucky to still be on the pitch after his yellow card and it was the absolute right decision for Wenger to pull him out of the firing line.
However, that brings back memories of Arsenal ‘s game against Manchester United in the 2012/2013 season where both Cleverly and Wilshere were yellow carded and while Ferguson removed his player, Wenger left Jack on the pitch expecting him to cope with the yellow card and in no time he was off. I was really scared Wenger would make the same mistake again. Good he has learnt his lessons.
In all, it was a good game and it means we have started our season in earnest.