By Karl M. Tinsley
Welcome back for this season’s ‘Gooner Reaction’. Hope we all enjoy this one!
MY 3 STARS
#1. TOMAS ROSICKY: Not often a player who is subbed in with only 30 minutes left and who doesn’t score, ends up as first star, but in this case “Helmet-Hair” deserves such an honour. His introduction 1/3 of the way through the 2nd half served to jumpstart our enemic and sputtering offence.
Tomas did a great job of spraying the ball around the pitch with some lovely and incisive passing And showed a nice nose for goal with the lovely 1-2 he worked with Robin van Persie that sprung him clear into the 18 yard box. Tomas elected to go for placement over power with a high curled effort that Reina was able to get a finger nail on and push just over the crossbar.
Finally with the game in its death-throes…Tomas delivered the teasing cross that Chamakh was able to harry Reina on and with a large dollop of good fortune…found its way into the back of the Scousers net. Me thinks Tomas will be getting a start next match.
#2. MAROUANE CHAMAKH: While he wasn’t spectacular, the effort was there all match from the new Moroccan signing. He wasn’t helped by the decision of Wenger to start him alone up top in his first Premier League match NOR did he receive much in the way of decent aerial service into the box.
But…like a true winner…he didn’t hang his head and kept plugging away and was rewarded late in the match for his commitment to trying to get on the end of every ball pumped into the Liverpool 18 yard box.
His on-rushing presence and the incidental contact with Reina flustered the Spanish ‘keeper enough for him to bundle into his own net and gift the Gunners a point at the death. Hopefully with a fully fit and conditioned Robin for next week, we will see Chamakh partnered up top in attack and better service will come his way. Solid if unspectacular start for our new striker.
#3. THOMAS VERMAELEN: The Belgian “Super-Stella” had himself a wonderful all-around match. Early on he dropped a serious bomb on the Liverpool net (coming off the F.K.) that Reina did a great job of punching wide. Thomas’ defence was stout all match long and coupled with his hustle and positioning, made him a rock at the back of our defence.
Vermaelen had a lot to do in the match as he needed to also keep an eye on the new CB signing Koscielny who was also making his Premier League debut. I can’t really fault him on the Liverpool goal due to the fact the ball was gifted to Liverpool by Wilshire and caught the squad flat-footed.
He attacked the aerial balls well in the Liverpool 18 yard box and with the addition of Chamakh you just know these two are going to come good with some set-piece goals via the head. While he is still new to The Arsenal…you get the feeling HE is the real leader of this squad when Cesc is not playing. No way should Almunia be wearing the arm band over “Super-Stella”.
SAMIR NASRI: Was everywhere on the ball, doing his best Cesc Fabregas impersonation. Bossed the ball effectively from the middle of the pitch and repeatedly demonstrated his prodigious ball handling skills.
However, like i’ve said a hundred times before…when Samir is dropping 2-3 bombs on net during the match it makes him a much more dangerous playmaker because defenders are then forced to step out and try and close down his shot and this opens up his dribble and makes him VASTLY more effective penetrating and dishing the ball.
His F.K.’s were dismal however…both hit into the wall…not good enough.
Jack Wilshire: Yes I know he is only 18 years of age and it was his first start for The Arsenal…BUT…what I saw from the lad left a lot to be desired. He looked exceedingly nervous on the ball and bereft of attacking imagination. Looked like he’d done his best to conjure up the Denilson in him with his useless 5-10 yard sideway passes on the pitch. I hate to think he’s already been infected with the “crab-walking” ball movement of elder and previous Gunner midfielders.
Needs to use his quickness and lower body strength and be a lot more direct in his attack/dribble. Fell asleep at the beginning of the 2nd half when he inexplicably let Clichy’s pass run through him and onto the waiting feet of Mascherano who calmly fed Ngog and well you know the rest. Rough start for the lad…BUT…I am most confident he will learn from this match and be all the better for it next time he features.
Call me optimistic but prior to kick-off, even with several of our starters out and featuring a brand new CB at the back…I felt we had a serious chance to jump Liverpool for 3 points in this match.
But the squad looked flat and disjointed, add to that the fact our formation 4-1-4-1 seemed to handcuff some of our players (Chamakh and Arshavin) and limit our offensive capabilities…we were fortunate to snatch a point on the road at Anfield against a team that was debuting a new Manager and whose players were desperate to impress. Hopefully with a new formation and the return of Cesc, Song and Robin (for a full 90 minutes) we can get this sorted out and put several past Blackpool next weekend.
The suspension of Koscielny might just be the final push in the back for Wenger to go out and get more cover at CB. Almunia again showed his shakiness on the aerial balls so with fingers crossed I hope and pray the Schwarzer rumours come to fruition because I think the Shay Given scenario is an extreme long shot. See you next week.
GUNS IN GUNS OUT