New season, but to be very pragmatic, it looks like the same old story.
Much of the possession, much of the chances but nothing to show for it. Santi Cazorla must have been the most frustrated man after the final whistle because the performance he delivered on his debut was worthy of making the headlines if Arsenal had managed to win.
But they didn’t, and so the ramblings will go on about how Arsenal are struggling without Van Persie, even though the truth is that this is a transition period and a slow start may be inevitable.
If you do chose to forget about the result and focus on performances, since it is ridiculously early anyway to start sketching the final picture, then early signs of Santi Cazorla promises that we may have finally replaced Fabregras.
And to be fair, he is actually more audacious than Cesc in terms of attacking football. He is not just about passing and finding that cutting-edge through ball. Cazorla can hit the ball pretty well too, and if not for a very fine save by Sunderand’s goalkeeper early in the first half, Arsenal’s new Spanish signing would have scored an absolute screamer on his debut. He is also completely two-footed. He can do the same exact thing he does with his left as he can with his right.
Lukas Podolski? Well he might have rectified a few errors if Wenger had not withdrawn him for Giroud around the hour mark, but for much of the game he really was not effective as Arsenal’s lone man upfront. That is no criticism to him because this league often demands some adaption if you are a new signing, and Podolski will have more to offer only as the season grows.
In terms of today’s display from the team and going for the victory which never came, Gervinho and Cazorla were really the only men who sparked the fire in Arsenal’s attack. Much of the team failed to turn up as enthusiastic as you would expect on the first day of the season. Maybe that is down to early season rustiness, but this sure needs to improve.
The biggest talk of the match was the Giroud miss. Last season’s joint top scorer of the French league missed the chance of the game from 12-yards out after been found with a clever pass from Cazorla very late in the game. Perhaps the fact that the chance fell on his weaker right foot explains why his miss was so dreadful. But it was a reasonably disappointing cameo from Giroud nonetheless.
In conclusion, this 0-0 draw is not so bad considering a few factors. Sunderland and any side organized by Martin O’neill is very hard to break down. Remember, of all the 19 teams who visited the Etihad Stadium last season, Sunderland was the only side to gain a single point and also the opponent who came closest to ending Manchester City’s almost perfect record at home after surrendering a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3.
Also, a majority of the opening day results often have nothing to do with the eventual happenings of the season. United drew 0-0 with Reading at home on the opening day of the 2007/08 season and still won the title. QPR lost 4-0 at home to Bolton on the first day of last year and survived ahead of their opponents on the final day. Wolves were league leaders after the opening day of last season, but we all know where they ended up.
Even so, Arsenal could have done much better to brighten up the mood and calm a few critics after RVP’s exit. Then again, the fact that this opening day show was not some emphatic 6-1 win (like against Everton in 2009) will help in not blinding us of Arsenal’s shortcomings and maybe force Wenger to strengthen the squad some more.
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