Post Coventry Delight, Pre Chelsea Delirium
So we met Coventry in the League Cup on Wednesday and made a pretty good show of things, it must be said. 6-1 was the score with players from all over the pitch getting in on the action. I know we should expect to beat a team like Coventry (not to take anything away from them, they did put up a fight and deserved the goal they got back in the second half), but more than anything this game seemed a chance for some of the players on the periphery of the team to get some playing time.
The game was broadcast in audio on Arsenal Player, which I was unable to follow at the time, but kept updated through Twitter. The post match highlights are the best way to get a feel for how the team was playing, and as somewhat of a surprise, perhaps due to his lack of playing time, Arshavin appeared as a crucial figure behind the main striker. Wenger has, for the last few years, played Arshavin on the left wing, which only allows the Russian to play on a couple of his talents, but when he plays in a central role he shows energy, drive, skill, and creativity. He was important in creating Giroud’s first goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s, and Miquel’s fine header, not to mention the goal he scored himself from Giroud’s flick across the box. He has the quality to contribute when the opportunity arises and, in this case, it paid off nicely. I don’t want to suggest that Arshavin is the answer to Arsenal’s first team aspirations (after all a number of his passes had too much weight on them and the intended target couldn’t make much of the effort), but he’s certainly a good option in the cups or even as a possible sub should injuries become a problem.
Though the players did a great job to score six goals and only concede the one (it was a fine goal too from a long early cross that Martinez had not a hope of saving), the highlight for me was seeing Olivier Giroud score his first in an Arsenal shirt (and a finely taken goal it was, with a confident flick past the keeper). He’s had some difficulty getting on the score sheet to date and some fans have started thinking he’s not all he was cracked up to be, but I see a player with fine positioning, who has been quite unlucky on more than one occasion when trying to score. He’s also been on the pitch with Gervinho a number of times this season and the Ivorian has been, shall we say, a tad greedy when he’s in possession. Maybe after Giroud’s goal this week, he’ll be viewed as more of an attacking threat by our own players and as a result they’ll make those key passes for him. Thus far, I’m a big supporter of the man as a footballer (I’m no fanboy and his hair needs work, but I can’t let that get in the way of a positive attitude towards seeing him on the pitch).
And we have Chelsea coming up tomorrow in league competition. They’re the leaders this far into the season and have managed four wins and a draw for a total of 13 points to our 9. On the face of it, things look like they can be tough for us on the weekend, but it’s important to note Chelsea’s fixtures to date:
To be honest, that’s perhaps the best start to a season a top club can hope for. Arguably, the most difficult of these matches would have been Stoke, but even at that they were playing at home, which made things a little more comfortable for them. I’m not convinced yet that Chelsea will keep their spot on top. Realistically, we’re right on their heels, as are United and there are a number of difficult matches coming up for the Blues that can see their results vary somewhat from the current pattern. There’s also the messy stuff going on with their captain, John Terry, who was recently found guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. There’s some speculation about whether or not he’ll play for them on the weekend (there’s a four match ban involved) and that Terry being left out may be slightly to our advantage, but I don’t put too much stock in that perspective. For me, what matters is Arsenal playing the best they can, regardless of who’s a part of the opposition. That said, I do still have to point out the below documented evidence that may ease the minds of some gooners:
Whatever the lineup for Saturday, I think we’ll be in a good position to take some points from the fixture. We’re at home and have some players who are really buzzing right now with their performances. All we need is to stay consistent defensively (Vermaelen is back in the side) and unleash the beast in each of Podolski, Giroud, and Cazorla and we have a chance of getting something out of the game.