View From The North Bank: Arsenal 1 Udinese 0
So, we’d all have taken one-nil before the game wouldn’t we, considering the turbulent summer and pre-requisite injuries/suspensions that Gooners have become accustomed to. That clean sheet could prove vital.
Performance-wise, very much a tale of two halves. The pre-match tension on the North Bank was palpable so we couldn’t have asked for a better start, when Ramsey’s fine run and cross allowed Walcott the opportunity to get his season off and running.
I won’t bore you all with commentary of the match, as you all will have watched it either at the ground or on the box, but here are some observations:
We couldn’t capitalise on the majority of possession in the first half and suffered a couple of scares also as Song atoned for his error in giving the ball away by chasing Asamoah and putting him under pressure when through on goal. The Ghanaian’s shot was well save by Szczesny. Di Natale also troubled our new number 13 with a free-kick that rattled the goal frame.
The second half was just about as disjointed a performance as I’ve seen from Arsenal, though this was not helped by the loss to hamstring injuries of Gibbs, and then his replacement Djourou.
Carl Jenkinson was thrust into action and performed admirably, but Koscielny looked nervous and made a number of rash decisions throughout – a concern, considering his proficient performance at Newcastle.
We turned over possession far too often and rode our luck to come away from this match – against a fresh and physical team – with a clean sheet heading into next Wednesday’s second leg. Although having said that we could well have notched a second goal but Handanovic saved brilliantly from Theo at the end.
Looking ahead to Liverpool on Saturday, it’s a huge concern that Jenkinson could well be starting at left back due to injuries to Gibbs and Traore, and again highlights the view from most Gooners that we need to sign a left back.
I believe we need an experienced left back for Gibbs and Traore to learn from. I spoke to someone at the club after the game last night and he can’t believe we didn’t sign Jose Enrique. He also said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Arsene has a gem of a signing up his sleeve, which gave me a nice warm feeling inside!
Last night again emphasised what Gooners have been crying out for all summer (and last January) that we need a centre back desperately. We cannot rely on Djourou due to his injury track record and the liability that is Squillaci.
Of course, we’ll also be missing Alex Song against Liverpool, which gives a great opportunity to Frimpong, who performed with maturity when coming on last night. Hopefully Frimpong will be able put real pressure on Song, who has been guaranteed his place in the starting line-up for too long.
And Gervinho is suspended also, which is such a shame given the circumstances of his dismissal and that he has been a real positive so far this season with his direct and indefatigable performances. This will give Arshavin a chance to stake a claim for his position and get back to the world class player we believed we were signing back in 2009.
Of course, we’ll welcome back our new Captain, RVP, as well!
Hopefully there’ll be some transfer news soon, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Be amazed if we sign anyone before knowing our Champions League destiny. Last night’s result has given us a strong platform to push off from.
COME ON YOU GUNNERS!