Happy Monday y’all,
Ha a weekend off blogging so lots to go through on a Monday morn – and only a little bit of it is Olympic related. Unless of course between now when I write this blog and my intended finish stop of Waterloo there is a massive delay from the games. In that case, I’ll be bemoaning all things Olympicified. Just trying to manage your expectations here.
Anyway, yesterday saw the last of the Asian tour friendlies against a team which sounded more like an Ideal Home exhibition gadget, than a professional football team. Kitchee FC (I had to type that three times on my predictive text before the iPhone accepted it!) were a small Hong Kong based team who normally play in front of crowds of no more than 3,500 people – which would be a sell out crowd if they were playing on their normal home turf and not the Hong Kong national stadium. I don’t know if they are already part way through their season or not but they were quite impressive for a relatively unknown team (in western eyes, anyway) and posed a few threats throughout the match. There’s no point in going through a blow-by-blow account of the game as I’m sure there are many more eloquent bloggers and journalists out there that could do a better job than I so I’ll just stick to my own opinions of what I learnt yesterday whilst sitting in bed watching.
Gervhino and Eisfeld had the most memorable of performances overall. The Ivorian was in imperious form and the directness in the final third wreaked havoc in the Kitchee penalty area. He danced around defenders too afraid to bring him down and was the catalyst for the second Arsenal goal that led the game to finishing at 2-2 where the German Thomas Eisfeld slotted home from six yards. Although only on for around 25 minutes, he looked assured, composed and certainly ready for a run in the team this season. As I would imagine a few of the players will be that played yesterday. Afobe and Aneke didn’t have the greatest of games, with the former missing a great chance off the post when faced with only the keeper to beat, then missing a great header from six yards. However he is only young and the real positive was getting himself into those positions.
There was also the odd bit of rustiness shown from a few of the first team squad players like Coquelin, Walcott and the Ox. Again, probably more down to a bit of pre-season cobwebs needing to be swept away more than anything else. All three above mentioned players still showed glimpses of the players we saw last season, so let’s hope that the next two weeks are well spent with more conditioning, before a final friendly of the season against FC Koln.
The only real downside to the overall performance was some of the defending. At times we were woefully exposed against what is hardly a Man City or Utd quality opponent. Carved open on multiple occasions, particularly on Andre Santos’ side, Stevie Bould has a bit of work to do before the start of this season. But I guess it would be better to get these errors out of the system now rather than from August 18 onwards. Although you can never tell if we’ll ever et rid of the defensive bowlers with this Arsenal team.
Elsewhere on the other side of the planet, Aaron Ramsey represented the main Arsenal interest in the Olympics, representing Team GB against the UAE. I have to say the UAE side impressed me. They were quite composed on the ball and although scored against the run of play they looked like an ok outfit. Ramsey himself had a good game, getting involved in a lot of the build up and putting together some good attacking runs in the final third. I really hope this tournament is useful for him in regaining some of his confidence. He looked so shorn of it towards the end of last season that I began to wonder if he might fade away as a first team regular to occasional squad man and then into obscurity. However all credit must go to him; he’s not hiding, he’s working hard and hopefully the competitive nature of these Olympics gives him a head start on his pre-season ready to fight for a slot against Sunderland in a few weeks.
I guess I could say some more things about RvP and Cazorla, but quite frankly I can’t be arsed: until either sign or don’t sign (definitively) there is nothing more I can say that hasn’t already been said.