Opening Match; Arsenal 3 - 4 Liverpool
Familiar. The shocking stats that are floating around include 1 Arsenal win in the last 7 starts to the season. As a stat man, one would expect Wenger to over-analyze and repair an obvious and completely objective fault. Negatives on the day will consist of a missed penalty, soft fouls given away, and possible injuries to crucial players.
We played an interesting system with Alexis, Ramsey, Walcott, and Iwobi up top. All of which looked very effective in the first half, with vertical through-balls splitting through the back of what seemed to be a 7-0-3 setup from Liverpool. Our outside backs in Bellerin and Monreal had a very difficult time having to overcompensate for the young center-backs when Liverpool started to come forward with numbers. It was a brilliant free kick and a few nervous scrambles that did us in. The team was hurt mentally by conceding just before the break and again at the opening of the second half. The communication between Cech, Holding, and Chambers ultimately left the three in poor possessions to mitigate the chances created by the opposition.
Positives Moving Forward
The midfield, I feel, was selected quite well for the match. The manager was correct to not start Xhaka, as he was far too likely to accumulate fouls and bookings early. The Coquelin-Elneny partnership was solid, with both having standout performances on the day. Our strength in depth was a breath of fresh air, as seen by the quality replacements of Santi Cazorla and the Ox when the starting midfield began to fade and cramp. Alexis had limited effectiveness up top, but his variety in breakaway attacks and drifting out wide will prove to be of great use when Ozil is back in the number ten role. It would be interesting to see him alongside Giroud, with two forwards.
From a neutral perspective, the match was very exciting and really had a lot to offer. It’s disappointing that we were unable to come out on top. We start this season with dropped points and a negative goal difference. The omitted and unsigned players are sorely missed, but I am excited to see how this team performs when they are included!