I’m sure you’re all aware of the outcome of today’s friendly in Germany – indeed, you probably watched it live on Arsenal Buffering. So I don’t propose to provide a full match report complete with ratings for each player. Instead I shall offer some general observations and a smattering of prognosis based on an entirely non-scientific analysis of the game.
There were, as ever both positives and negatives. The greatest postives were undoubtedly the 29 minute debut of Gervinho who scored twice, and the energy, vision and sheer skill of young Jacko. Both of these guys could be on for a tremendous season. I was also impressed by Jenkinson. He worked hard, supported his teammates, and looked very committed. He also scored from a remarkable lob, a looping chip that Bobby Pires would have been proud of. Unfortunately it was into his own net. Not to worry.
Ryo looked enterprising. Frimpong broke things up but couldn’t prevent himself from giving the ball away. Poor young Henderson was stretchered off late in the second half with a potentially serious knee injury. Nasri played in the second half but was fairly ineffective – Arshavin looked livelier, and got into some good positions. Of course Cesc remained at home, like Achilles brooding in his tent while his Homeric “transfer” saga drags on.
The only player who started both halves was Gibbs, and although I like him I wasn’t particularly impressed today. He was repeatedly out of position, but he wasn’t alone. It is of course only a pre-season game, but it doesn’t appear that a whole lot has changed since the last campaign when it comes to defensive organisation. It doesn’t seem as though there’s a whole of communication going on. There were times when the defence could not have been more intent on watching the pill than if they’d been confronted by a Bangkok prostitute with a bucket of ping pong balls.
Unless there’s some reconstruction work done on the defensive part of our game. it’s difficult to see how things are going to improve over last season. As I’ve said before on this site, it’s not – in my view – just a question of personnel. Vermaelen and Djourou are good defenders, and I believe Kozza is competent. They are just not organised properly. This has to the result of a coaching problem, surely. Either they are not being coached in defending as a unit, or they are being taught to defend in a manner that is not appropriate. Even if we sign another centre-half – and there’s no doubt that we should – this may not solve our defensive issues.
Fortunately today Köln were worse than us, both in defence and in attack – their goal difference last season was -15. And their badge resembles a goat shagging a street sign.