View From The North Bank: Stoke 0 Arsenal 0
If you’d just been roused from a transfer gossip induced coma you could have looked at some of the reaction after our 0-0 draw on Sunday and been forgiven for thinking it was our 37th goalless game of the season.
After two games Jamie Redknapp has decided that Giroud and Podolski aren’t good enough; the sort of rash conclusion that makes you think that his impossibly snug slacks are restricting the blood supply to his brain as well as his testicles.
The fact that we failed to score goals in our first two games last season, with Van Persie playing, has either been missed completely by the more hysterical corners of the media or just conveniently overlooked for the sake of a sensationalist angle. Of course, it would be nice if we’d managed to get the new boys off the mark but the most important thing is to look at the side and feel like it’s coming together.
There are obviously still some rough edges that need to be smoothed off and until Giroud and Podolski finally get off the mark there will be question marks, however the overall performance still showed signs of encouragement. Poldi showed quality in flashes but still looks like he needs to find the wavelength of his team mates, and despite not managing to score Giroud had a very good game. He won five of his aerial duels against a very physical Stoke back four and held up play well. He, like our new number 9, looks like his touch could do with some work but that’s more to do with a lack of match sharpness; the product of a truncated pre-season.
The dashing Frenchman was criticised for his speculative effort in the closing minutes and perhaps should have found Ramsey breaking through the middle, but I think it’s encouraging to see a striker who has his eyes firmly set on goal and is confident enough to take a risk. Yes, he probably should’ve taken the safer option and guaranteed a goal scoring opportunity but it’s hard to chastise a striker who wants a goal, especially one as handsome as our Olivier.
It’s actually quite encouraging that our biggest criticism so far is around attacking play. In years gone by we were rightly criticised for being too gung-ho and failing to keep the door locked at the other end. So far we’ve had two clean sheets and, if the stat I read was correct, only conceded three shots on target. In pre-season Vermaelen talked about the work we have done on defensive shape and the early signs are positive. So many times we’ve suffered against counter attacks, even in situations where we actually outnumbered the attackers. In similar situations this season we’ve taken up better positions and limited the options for the other team. It’s too early to draw any conclusions but it seems like Steve Bould is having his say.
In context, with an adventurous manager like Wenger, two goalless games is no problem. We aren’t conceding goals and we don’t look vulnerable. That, to use George Graham as a touchstone, is the important part of developing a new side and I would back Wenger to get the attacking element firing before too long.
And finally, we’re in the home straight of the Transfer Window. There are times that I despise the speculation, the players being unsettled and unsettling themselves but, I admit, I can’t help getting my hopes up about who we might sign. There have been some interesting names circulated but in my experience, I’d discount almost all of those and wait for more concrete news (from this blog of course, as well as the other decent ones) as the week goes on. In an ideal world I’d like us to bring in a versatile defender, another midfielder to share that deeper role with Arteta and, if I was being greedy, another forward. By Friday night we’ll know. NonFlyingDutchman is escaping to the Austrian mountains – as he mostly does every deadline day – but he’ll be sending messages over the wires for me to relay to you and our many dedicated followers. Hold on tight!
Keep The Faith