The Prettiest Wife: New look Arsenal
New look Arsenal made a winning start on Saturday; it wasn’t the Arsenal of old, but there were glimpses of how Arsene Wenger’s team will shape up this season.
Per Mertesacker made his debut alongside Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the defence, with Koscielny starting left centre. For the want of not getting ahead of ourselves, if the big German performs well and stays fit, we could see less of the Koscielny-Vermaelen pairing.
Mertesacker’s positional sense and obvious physical presence will compliment the quicker, agile anticipatory defending of Koscielny and Vermaelen.
The new midfield shape was interesting with Emmanuel Frimpong anchoring, and Mikel Arteta operating from a deeper starting position than Aaron Ramsey. Perhaps this was due to the Wales captain’s fine midweek performance against England, but the options afforded were evident and encouraging, despite the absence of Jack Wilshere.
Arsenal were built around Fabregas, with the ex-Gunners skipper being afforded a free role of sorts – neither a No.10, nor a deep lying playmaker. This new midfield offers more fluidity.
Arteta’s debut was solid. He started very well, but as Wenger mentioned in his post-match presser, he became less influential as the game went on and the anxiety of hanging onto the lead grew.
Arteta’s passes were varied; often starting attacks, receiving possession from defence and also linking midfield with attack and bringing the fullbacks into play as often as possible.
In comparison with the home game this time last year against Bolton, Fabregas’ passing was not as accurate as Arteta. This is a rudimentary comparison, but a comparison nonetheless. With the team often looking to Fabregas first and foremost, the new midfield will be less reliant on an individual: Arteta is not a like-for-like replacement for Cesc.
Chalkboards via the guardian
What has also been evident this season is that Van Persie’s ‘false 9′ role seems to be reverting into a truer No.9. Van Persie has now scored 98 Premier League goals for Arsenal and has 19 in his last 20 games, this calendar year. The skipper dropped into deep spaces vacated by the on-running Arteta or Ramsey but has evidently spent more time in the box than we have been used to seeing so far this season.
This is due to the more direct approach that Wenger wants from those occupying wide positions. We’ve seen already that Gervinho drives to the by-line (Udinese away) or makes diagonal runs, similar to Freddie Ljungberg, from out to in; we have also seen this more from Walcott this term – first half against Swansea, running from out to in with a straight, slipped pass from Arshavin.
The new Arsenal may have lost two of its stars, but there is evidence that the added experience and change to a more fluid, team-orientated vision of play rather than getting the ball to a protagonist will offer more avenues with which to score.
As Wenger once famously stated; “If you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages.” We’ve been growing used to sausages but the meat content has lessened each year. That doesn’t mean the sausage tastes bad, just that it may not be as good for your health. This could be a long season, but it will also be intriguing to see if Wenger’s new blend of youth and experience can blend style with substance.