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Arsenal Begin Campaign With Six Goal Stunner


If there was an ideal start to a new season for Gooners around the world, this certainly was it.  With Samir Nasri, Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky (again), Johann Djourou and Abou Diaby on the injury list, it looked like Arsenal were to start this year’s campaign with substantial injuries, though having Cesc Fabregas, Andrei Arshavin and Robin van Persie on the team sheet can hardly be called less than full-strength.

Fortunately for the Gunners, Arsene Wenger’s side met up with an Everton that was seemingly still in preseason exhibition mode.  The Toffees shipped six against an admittedly rampant Arsenal side, but Everton didn’t make it exactly difficult for the visitors as they seemingly switched off on defending set pieces.

Arsenal scoring from set pieces?  Rare indeed, just as rare as the long-range strike from Denilson for the first goal, from a perfectly-weighted pass from Fabregas.  Where were the walked-in goals, the multiple-pass forays into the box, hoping the opposing keeper will fall over and let you tap it in?  The following two goals came within five minutes of each other, one from each centerback, both while unmarked.  After that, the floodgates opened for the Gunners, and it’s easy to see why David Moyes is so disappointed in his team’s performance.

It’s one game in, and it’s difficult to take anything from the first game against a team that is known for starting poorly, but Wenger’s acquiescence to 4-3-3 certainly makes for something more entertaining.  Now, I know talking formations is sort of like arguing semantics, because just as 4-3-3 can look incredibly offensive in it’s free-flowing best, it can also become a defensively dour 4-5-1, as evidenced by Arsenal’s run to the Champions League Final in 2006.  Chelsea’s glorious wide-play days with Mourinho quickly became stunted midfield battles as soon as the Blues were up by a goal or two.  And of course, I may say 4-2-3-1, which to you may be 4-5-1.

But Wenger’s insistence on 4-4-2 has apparently softened (perhaps with the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor and the arrival of Arshavin), and his experimentation with a more Barcelona-esque formation should provide not only entertainment, but perhaps the best conditions for the types of youth at Arsenal.  Speed wins in individual battles, typically leads to goals, and more often than not, beats guile.  And guile may be what’s missing from Arsenal in the last few years, so being a year older and wiser can only benefit the Gunners.

More importantly, despite playing against a rusty Everton side, the two most lightweight players at Arsenal last year, Alex Song and Denilson, had excellent games today.  The holding midfielder role will be one that’s openly debated at Arsenal, and perhaps another season of tag-teaming may be in store.

That may be enough, and the relationship between Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas is crucial if Arsenal are to play with the freewheeling style of Barcelona, or at least win while doing so.  It is a good sign, though, when both your centerbacks score, even if they were unmarked.

And that’s the risk that Wenger is taking.  He speaks a lot of belief and dedication, and unless he’s on the verge of making a midnight deal before the window closes, he’s dedicated to the players he has, and hopeful in the return of Eduardo, Nasri and Rosicky to form.  A little withdrawal of 6 million for Rafa van der Vaart couldn’t hurt either.

There’s a lot of talk about Man City cracking the top four, and Arsenal may be the most logical choice, as they’ve been seemingly punching above their weight the last few years.  And of course, the loss of Adebayor and Kolo Toure can hardly be seen as positive on the pitch, even if it is on the balance sheet.  But with other teams making little splash in the transfer window, just as this may be Arsenal’s year to be knocked out of the big four, it also may be their year to lift some silver.

[BBC, Goal, Daily Mail]

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  1. Kautzie

    August 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Great result but it doesn’t change the fact that we still need an extra DM and a CD. Song was great yesterday and I think he’s going to have a break out year but he’s the only player we have who can do that job besides Diaby who seems to have 3 games a season where he looks like Patrick Vieira and the rest of the season he’s either crap, hurt or invisible, Denilson, as we saw testerday is more suited for the Iniesta than the Yaya role. Also Vermaelen and Gallas looked great yesterday but behind them we have no cover at all with Djourou out, that and RVP as good as he is, is way out of position as a target man.

    • bill

      August 16, 2009 at 8:45 pm

      Denilson can be good, but hes no Iniesta yet. Come on, Iniesta is one of the best players in the world. But dont take me word for it, Xavi has called him Spain’s best player by far, and Guardiola has called him the best player hes ever seen.

  2. Sam

    August 16, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    tim howard is on my fantasy squad!

  3. Shell

    August 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Tyson I wouldn’t be relishing it to much after Uniteds performance against Birmingham!

  4. Efrain

    August 16, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Great game, but lets see how they do with stronger teams. I was disappointed that AW didnt play Wilshire. When I saw that kid play in pre-season I was flabergasted. That kid has the moves and he rocked! He just ran circles around the defense and I was really looking forward to seeing him get some playing time against Everton.

    Awsome start Arsenal!

  5. Bombtune

    August 16, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Alexandre Song was brilliant. He’s becoming Arsenal’s Michael Essien which is exactly what the team needs.

    I expected Arshavin to score. He played with his usual strong pace.

    I like Bendtner on the right side in the 3-4-3. It gives him space to create and set up other players for goals.

    Great start for the Gunners.

  6. May $hua

    August 16, 2009 at 6:48 am

    I give anithing 4 ma club!!!!!
    Upppppppp GUNNNNNNNNNNERZ!!!!

  7. Tyson

    August 16, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Wait you mean all that crap about Arsene Wenger and Arsenal in the newspapers was just some bs they said to get you to buy it?! OMG!

    I really don’t get why this is a surprise. If you look at the FACTS Arsenal are a very solid team. 37 away goals last year more than anybody else in the PL and they have an incredible counter attack.

    Good teams always have a way of making an impact when people feel they are incapable or down. After everything said during the summer about Arsenal and Wenger and all the bs filling the back pages you knew Arsenal were going to come back with a vengeance.

    They are capable of doing this but as a Manchester United fan I’m hoping they don’t repeat it too often this season.

    Either way though all you Arsenal and Wenger doubters have been put in your place.

    People say Manchester City are top 4 material but Arsenal belong in the top 4 and this is why.

    I’m relishing Manchester United vs Arsenal.

    • Brian

      August 16, 2009 at 6:44 am

      It isn’t much of a surprise. Except that Everton played so poorly. Upcoming matches with Celtic and Manchester United will prove to be better indicators.

      • travis

        August 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

        Everton played poorly because Arsenal gave them no chance to play well except a bit of time in the first half.

  8. clbuzz

    August 16, 2009 at 5:21 am

    EPL Matches Highlights – 2009-2010 Epl Highlights Online Links. English Premier League Highlights | Latest Football Highlights 2009 – 2010.

  9. Arsenal14

    August 16, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Fantastic Result! I thought we’d get a 2-2 today but a great win and shows what we can do if we dont get the injury bug! Great to see De Silva with a goal..the real test is in 2 weeks though when we go to Old Trafford! Go BHam today!

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