If it’s straightforward, then it’s not Arsenal.
While it’s very good and vital that we got off to a winning start, it shouldn’t mask the fact that some familiar failings were again on show.
When I talk about failings, the first thing that comes to mind is our defensive fragility, or naivety – if you like; but the main failing here is complacency, both individually and collectively. Especially considering that our defence was mainly patched-up tonight.
On this note, I’ll like to first place Xhaka’s performance under scrutiny.
XHAKA NEEDS TO STAY HUMBLE
Xhaka’s performances in preseason and especially against Chelsea in the Community Shield won him a lot of praise and respect, and rightly so. However, his defensive indiscipline which cost us two goals tonight shows that he is allowing the hype get to his head.
He was chiefly at fault for our second conceded goal, when he was casually trying to pass out from defence, and for the third goal, allowing Vardy run into space for an easy header.
I have seen enough recently and again tonight to retain my belief that Xhaka will have a good season and go on to become the midfield general we have been missing for years but he needs to remain humble and retain the urgency in his play. His assist for Ramsey was simply brilliant.
OZIL IS STILL LAZY
We might have won our first game of the season and with some thrilling late goals, nonetheless, some of the things that cost us dearly in the past were still on show.
Ozil started from where he left off last season in terms of desire and application, especially in a defensive sense, when he made a lazy and unconvincing attempt at winning a 50-50 ball around the edge of our box-18 in the 3rd minute. It was off the resulting corner that Leicester got their equalizer.
I hope we can still bring in Thomas Lemar before the transfer window shuts. With his vision, pace, skills, set-piece delivery, better penetrative power, and equally impressive goals and assists stats, he would put Ozil under immense pressure and possibly become a more regular starter than the German.
Failing that, Alex Iwobi, who had a very good preseason, should get more game time, either from the start or as a substitute in games where Ozil simply isn’t applying himself.
LACAZETTE LOOKS A PROPER GOAL-SCORER
Lacazette, with his effort that stuck the woodwork against chelsea last weekend and his poacher’s header tonight, looks like the fast nimble-footed striker this team has needed since RVP’s departure. The type who is always available in box, needs a half-chance to score, and can dribble out of tight spots or make a quick turn in the box to quickly shoot at goal.
With the amount of touches that Arsenal typically has in the opposition penalty box, I expect Lacazette to score at least 18-20 league goals in his first season. It wont surprise me if he scored 25.
Another impressive quality is his work-rate and tenacity. Like Suarez or Sanchez, with Lacazette around, a defender never has a moment’s peace. Even when the defender seems to have the ball under his spell, Lacazette is still running back from behind to try to win it.
To have him, Giroud, and Sanchez – if we manage to keep him for this season at least – will get us back into the increasingly competitive top-four. I have no doubt about that.
CECH WITH ALL EXPERIENCE NEEDS TO BE MORE DECISIVE
When you have the kind of make makeshift back-line that we had tonight, the last thing you want is an indecisive or unassured goal-keeper behind them. In the absence of Koscielny and, to a lesser extent, Mertesacker tonight, you expected Cech to be one constant source of defensive calm and organization.
That, however, wasn’t the case as Cech was caught in no-man’s land for Leicester’s first goal. There were one or two other occasions when he almost got the timing of his sweeping wrong and could have presented Vardy with an open net.
For us to stand any chance of challenging for the title, Cech will need to show all the qualities that have made him an absolute Premier League legend, week in week out.
SHOULD WE ALREADY BE WORRIED ABOUT DEFENSIVE FRAILTIES
Judgement should be reserved on this until about three games into the season when we should have all our first-choice defenders back.
When Koscielny and the likes of Mustafi return to the side, not only will they add solidity to our center of defence, we will be able to see our impressive new signing, Kolasinac, in his specialist left wing-back role.
Thankfully, our third game of the season is against Liverpool at Anfield where our defence will surely be thoroughly tested.
WHAT ABOUT GIROUD?
I’ll just like to say that Giroud deserves a lot more respect from the media and especially Arsenal fans.
The man scores many goals – match winners, beautiful goals.
We need to keep him.
What a signing! This guy has everything you expect from an Arsenal player – technique, skills, pace, intelligence – but he also more of the qualities a typical Arsenal player lacks. He has heart, power, strength, determination, character.
The most admirable of his qualities is that he is a winner. He will do whatever he takes to influence a match, especially in an attacking sense. That was what made Vieira, Campbell, and the rest of the Invincibles so formidable.
A lot of credit has to go to Wenger and his team to for not just discovering such a massive asset, but for getting him for free.
WHAT ARE OUR HOPES FOR THE SEASON?
Irrespective of the circumstances or concerns about our performance against Leicester, the best and first way of giving yourself a chance of challenging for the title is to win your first match, especially in front of your home fans.
In a mathematical sense, to win the title, every point counts and right from the start. Had we managed to get a draw against Liverpool, never mind win, in our first game of last season, we would have finished above them and qualified for the Champions League. In the end, we finished just a point behind them.
More crucially, in a psychological and mental sense, it was important to maintain the positivity and confidence that we built from the end of last season.
Consider the following had we lost yesterday:
– The whole atmosphere at the Emirates and social-media would have gone toxic again.
– The confidence of the team would have taken an instant battering.
– Fans immediately become disunited again.
– What ever hopes we were starting to have that Sanchez could sign a contract extension if our season pans out would have vanished.
– We would have lost another home game, and any team that has serious designs on winning the league has win at least 16 of their 19 home games, as we saw we Chelsea and Spurs who both had over 80 points last season.
Overall, it was a good showing tonight. You cannot be too critical of a team that showed character to get a come-back win and who has been on a very strong run from the end of last season, which includes our FA Cup and Community Shield wins.
Patterns for which a better assessment of our team’s ability and preparedness for a title tilt would start to emerge in our third EPL game against Liverpool.
For now, let’s savour a rare good start to the season and the excitement of the massive potentials of our new signings.
Where will Arsenal finish the season?
– Can we win the league?
– Is top four more realistic?
– Is it too early to tell, especially giving that our main rivals are yet to play?
Who excites you more: Kolasinac or Lacazette?
SHARE YOUR VIEWS IN THE COMMENTS.