Reading 5-7 Arsenal: What Was LearnedPosted: October 31, 2012
Blimey. I mean, seriously, what was that? Even on FIFA I would deem a 7-5 ‘a bit excessive’ (and I once attempted to play a 3-2-5 formation – to varying degrees of success). Without a doubt the most stupid and ridiculous game of football I have seen in all my (admittedly few) years, and probably the most the majority of us will ever see. Seeing a team the size of Arsenal go down by four goals is bizarre in itself and even more so is seeing any team recover from a four goal deficit, only for both to be topped by perhaps the most shocking and surprising of all: Marouane Chamakh scored. Twice. On a football pitch (fnar). Insanity reigned.
Here is a screenshot of the notes I made at half time. Here are the ones I made at around the hour mark. I stopped making notes at that point, and just watched the madness unfurl. A truly abysmal start saw Arsenal 4-0 down after 37 minutes. The team looked like strangers to one another; somewhere between inept and a completely uninterested from the eleven players on the pitch
– Of the first half notes, a few carried through right to the end: Ignasi Miquel is a talented centre back and while the reasons for playing him on the left are understandable – namely that he is capable of playing there, is left footed and there’s no fit more senior player who can, he clearly has no long term future there. He lacks the pace and the knowhow to play at full back, but he definitely has a future at centre back.
– There are two schools of thought on Laurent Koscielny and very little in the way of middle ground: he is either exceptional or terrible to most. Any who have seen him for any length of time know he is very, very good, but his start to the season has been appalling, by his own standards. Against Manchester City his goal rescued him from criticism for what was an uncharacteristically error-filled performance; against Chelsea he was poor and today he was quite shockingly bad. He was unfortunate with the own goal, for which Damien Martinez should have done better, but he was pushed around the pitch by Jason Roberts and was fortunate not to be sent off. His 89th minute goal resurrected the comeback, but it was about the only thing that could have rescued his game. On this form, he has little chance of reclaiming his place in the first team from Per Mertesacker any time soon.
– Serge Gnabry seemed to be the only player who wanted to play until he was withdrawn after around an hour. He seemed eager to make an impression, showing off strong dribbling and long range shooting, but was unable to turn the game in Arsenal’s favour. Promising from the young German.
– Reading about the players coming through at Arsenal, all that I have read about Martinez is praise, with some even willing him to take Vito Mannone’s place while Wojciech Szczęsny has been injured, but his naïvety was evident. He struggled physically against crossing and was at fault for Reading’s third goal after a weak parry from a distance shot. Improvement needed.
– Even though Emmanuel Frimpong is recovering from a serious long-term injury, his lack of off-the-ball tracking was abysmal. He often left huge space behind him and was very susceptible on counterattacks. This was noted by many as a severe flaw of his game before his injury, while he was at Wolves, and it is something that will need rectifying if he wishes to break through at Arsenal.
– Theo Walcott very much strengthened the case for his being rewarded a new contract and for playing time as a centre forward. In the first half he barely got onto the ball but the goal he scored came from a run through the middle; a true poacher’s goal, as was his second (or was it third?), which made it 6-5 – a tap-in from Andrey Arshavin’s rebounded effort. In more open games he can be used through the middle. His back-to-goal work is not of a high enough standard for him to be played there every week but he can certainly be used there to positive effect, and they should be doing all they can to keep him. All you can ask from him at this stage is to prove he is worthy of the demands he is making. And it is difficult to argue with what he is producing when given the chances (which he did from the 45th minute onwards).
– Marouane Chamakh is not ‘back’, nor did he show that Arsenal do not need a striker in January. If anything, he showed even more that he needs to move on. He was terrible, with the exception of his two goals; which, in fairness, is a pretty large exception. He was never a bad footballer, but his attitude was awful and it was reflected in his performances. He could not have looked less interested if he tried in normal time and his two shots that led to goals were the only times he even came close to threatening. With regular game time, he could definitely be the player who Arsenal saw in his first six months, but he will never show himself at Arsenal on a consistent basis again.
– On Chamakh, Olivier Giroud is in no way, shape or form some new incarnation of him and the Piers Morgans of the world who have used this tag will soon look stupid in the extreme… not exactly a feat for Piers Morgan, though. His introduction changed the game; he worked extremely hard, made himself a nuisance to the Reading defence and trying to impose himself on the game. He did this very successfully, topped off by his excellent header to bring the score to 4-2. He built well on his impressive game against QPR, and Arsenal will be hoping he goes further at Old Trafford on Saturday.
– Thomas Eisfeld was introduced with Giroud and despite a few erratic long shots, he looked like a player with real talent. His movement and positioning are excellent – any who have watched him know his knack for turning up in the right place at the right time – and his passing was very good. He looks like a very clever and exciting player.
– One of Manchester United and Chelsea will go out tomorrow; Manchester City are already out. The League Cup may not be a proper trophy, but it could have its use in sending the ‘seven years’ jibes into oblivion. There is a good chance of winning it, but victory in it can only be counted as a ‘success’ if it is used as a foundation for bigger and better things.