Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Late Ramsey goal ensures opening day victory

Arsenal were made to work to ensure they came out of their opening Premier League fixture of the season with a win. Crystal Palace were Saturday's opponents who after Tony Pulis was sacked two days before the season got underway, didn't have a manager. Many predicted because of that the Gunners would steamroller their opponents but it was far from comfortable. Crystal Palace took the lead through a corner before Koscielny equalised and then Ramsey scored a real poachers goal deep into injury time. Arsenal were unchanged from the Community Shield as Sanchez, Debuchy and Chambers were all given league debuts for the club. Yaya Sanogo meanwhile continued up front.
Aaron Ramsey's late goal rescued all three points for the Gunners
Compared to last season's opening day, a game which we lost 3-1, the weekend saw a vast improvement. That improvement wasn't really something to be admired though. It was a slow performance with little attacking penetration. If you look at the win over Manchester City the weekend before there was a lot of interchanging passes on the edge of the area but against Palace they made that difficult as they remained solid at the back and gave us little chance to play the one-two's we find so effective.

All that was proved by the goals we scored. After having gone behind to poor marking to allow Hangeland to head home, Arsenal's first goal also came from a set-piece. Alexis Sanchez floated in a free-kick and Koscielny got free of his marker to flick home the Gunners first goal of the new campaign. The second came after a bit of a goal mouth scramble. Koscielny and Giroud both got up well to keep possession and then Debuchy saw an effort saved. The ball however rebounded to Aaron Ramsey who couldn't miss as Arsenal won the game with a matter of moments left.

Arsenal's late surge was helped by a red card to Jason Puncheon. Earlier in the second half he'd been booked for challenge through the back of Ramsey but then saw red for a clumsy challenge on Nacho Monreal. Monreal had originally been on the bench but due to yet another injury to Kieran Gibbs the Spaniard came on. Nacho had had a good start to life at Arsenal but he struggled for any real consistency last season but when he did come on against Palace he looked assured and gave Arsenal another dimension down the left hand side. Is the curse of the dreaded number 18, which he now wears, finally over? Only time will tell.

There weren't many standout performances but Mathieu Debuchy once again gave Arsenal fans a reason to be happy. There were doubts when Sagna left but Debuchy has been brilliant so far and we haven't missed his fellow Frenchman at all. He's showing clear reasons as to why he's been the preferred choice at right back for the French national side and long may his fine performances continue. He already looks very committed and his passion is second to none. His celebration with Monreal after Ramsey scored backs up that point. He's certainly already one of us despite only playing two competitive games for the club.

Calum Chambers has been thrown right in at the deep end since his move from Southampton but once again slotted straight in at centre back and looked assured. Perhaps not as assured as in recent weeks but his performance was still of a high caliber and he looks the real deal. Koscielny meanwhile saved us on a couple of occasions and apart from the goal we conceded the defence didn't really look in much trouble.

The midfield weren't as good as we expect from them but Wilshere especially is beginning to find his level again. There were instances when Arsenal struggled to keep hold of the ball and that'll have to be improved in the weeks coming. Against the bigger sides it'll be punished and it almost was when Arteta gave the ball away a few times in the Community Shield. Yaya Sanogo it's fair to say has been given his fair share of opportunities but despite scoring four relatively simple goals in the Emirates Cup against Benfica, he was poor against City last week and again against Palace. Giroud gave us something different when he came on and hopefully he'll start to play regularly now he's built up his match fitness.

Next up is a tough away trip to Besiktas for the first leg of our Champions League qualifier before we face Everton away from home next weekend.

The team's line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Debuchy, Chambers, Koscielny, Gibbs(53), Arteta, Wilshere(69), Ramsey, Sanchez, Cazorla, Sanogo(62).
Subs: Martinez, Monreal(53), Coquelin, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain(69), Campbell, Giroud(62). 

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Dann(75), Hangeland, Ward, Ledley, Jedinak, Puncheon, Bolasie(90), Chamakh, Campbell(85).
Subs: Hennessey, McCarthy, O'Keefe(90), Delaney(75), Bannan, Gayle(85), Murray.

My man of the match: Mathieu Debuchy.

Referee: Jonathon Moss.
Attendance: 59,962.

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