Monday, 4 August 2014

Arsenal 0-1 Monaco: "It's only pre-season", hopefully

Somewhat unexpectedly, Arsenal put on a rather tame performance and were deserved 1-0 losers against Monaco. It was a bit puzzling, especially after the efficient 5-1 win a day ago, and the club being on a general high and all that. You can't win them all, but the docile manner of our defeat was mildly concerning.

Granted, pre-season is a chance to get games under the belt and improve fitness. But that shouldn't hide the fact that for fair chunks of the game, our attack looked dysfunctional and we weren't assured in possession. One might brush this game aside as a mere hiccup in a match that didn't matter anyway, but let's not forget that the team we had out there was as good as our starting XI. Indeed, insert Gibbs for Monreal, and you may get a team that is likely to play Manchester City next week.

Individual performances were okay. Chambers and Wilshere were bright lights. Calum looked good - on a day when he was busier than against Benfica, he came out of it looking like a guy who knows his stuff. Wilshere probably looked like the only Gunner who had fire in his belly while playing; nevertheless, his end product was lacking.

However, others didn't come out with much merit. Debuchy was forward too many times and was caught napping. Monreal really needs some tough love from Bould, his positional sense is ghastly. One thing's for sure - Kieran Gibbs isn't going to come under pressure anytime soon.

Ramsey was good-ish, but I don't blame the Welshman for his performance levels notably dropping. 180 minutes in two days is repulsive man management. Alexis, despite the peeling pace he excitedly offers, wasn't looking comfortable throughout the game. We all want him to do well, but let's not pretend his performance wasn't a swing and a miss. Of course, it's freakishly early days, and this doesn't mean he's destined for doom. Can't blame a guy for raising valid concerns though, right?

Olivier Giroud's performance up front was of a person who is simply not ready. Indeed, at times he was so dire that Wenger was forced into conceding that he may have to reconsider his role next week. It speaks volumes, for Arsene of all people holds Olivier in the highest regard.

Our performance as a unit was a bit frightening. The confidence and clinicality of the day before was worryingly absent. The objective of pre-season matches are to recognize the best formations and tactical approaches to suit the chemistry. Yesterday was definitely not it.

Owing to the fitness fiasco and the "nothing at stake" justifications, it's tempting to call yesterday a one-off. However, the team still needs to go up from here. Citing a crisis and hashtaging WengerOut would be a touch too far, but refusing to address some obvious deficiencies in the team under the pretext of "It's only pre-season" would be equally foolish.

Friendlies are meant to highlight errors, especially when we have the time to rectify them. Evidently, this is not the time for inaction. It's time to see if Wenger concurs.

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]

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