Arsenal 1-0 WBA
The sun was out, there were a couple of chilled beers sitting in my stomach and I must confess, it was glorious to be back watching football at the Grove.
It’s funny though, because every Arsenal fan I spoke to or overheard before the game was cautious in the extreme. “We might be able to compete…if we add to the squad” was the general gist of things. I wouldn’t have said the fans were disgruntled, but they were far from being gruntled, (apologies to PG Wodehouse). There was a bit of frustration as the game wore on, and a bit of booing for Adebayor – a combination of his summer misdemeanours and a wasteful afternoon in front of goal – but surely we should be preaching patience at this stage of the season? We can’t win 5-0 every game and besides, West Brom deserve credit for defending well.
Besides, our midfield – no need to go into why – was rejigged, with Eboue trying out the third team position of his Arsenal career in the middle and Nasri making his debut on the left. Walcott had a few good runs in the first half but didn’t impose himself enough, while Denilson and Eboue did pretty well for the most part.
Denilson had an assist to his name, but was sort of invisible otherwise. I mean that mostly positively – he was invisible in the Steve Williams, Paul Davis mould – he just got on with things. He’s no Fabregas and nor is he a Vieira, but he did pretty well without being spectacular.
The real positive of the afternoon was Nasri – he was superb. Nimble, with a good pass and a good shot, he already looks like he has more tools in his box than Hleb and his contribution was excellent. I can’t wait to see him dovetail with Fabregas – that’s two very creative options and overall Nasri was my man of the match.
Bendtner missed his one decent chance and Adebayor missed his chances too – but both battled hard, as did van Persie when he came on.
Not the finest performance, true – not enough chances created and a midfield that is far from first choice – but it’s the beginning of the season and three points were earned.
It’s just too early to talk up our chances or write us off, and surely far too early to start getting frustrated by not scoring hatfuls of goals. In fact, we were shooting loads – Gallas (who was very good) went close, Eboue bashed a few goalwards and Nasri likes to take a pop too. It just didn’t quite click.
The weaknesses are there for all to see but Wenger will absolutely address that – possibly next week.
Finally, it’s goodbye to Justin Hoyte. I championed him because I really wanted him to succeed, but Sagna’s signing showed us all that Justin Hoyte was unlikely to ever be first-choice at Arsenal. He was at times torn apart by the top opposition wingers, and while he’s bound to improve (he’s still in his early twenties), his chances were limited at Arsenal. All the best to him – there’s always his brother Gavin to keep the Hoyte Arsenal link intact…
Right, I’m off.