Arsenal vs. Aston Villa: 5 Things We Learned
Arsenal's season did not begin in the manner they would have hoped.
It was a demoralising day at the Emirates Stadium as the Gunners crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa.
Arsenal supporters would have spent months dreaming of an opening day win capped by the unveiling of some exciting new signings. Instead, their fans' worst fears were confirmed as a paper-thin Arsenal squad struggled to cope with Villa's incisive counterattacking game.
Go to the next slide to discover the five lessons Arsenal will have painfully learnt from this game.
Fail to Prepare; Prepare to Fail
Arsenal can blame the referee and ill fortune all they like: This was a defeat of their own making.
A better Arsenal team would surely have had enough to see off a Villa side that spent much of last season flirting with relegation. The transfer window is an opportunity to improve the squad available to you. Thus far, Arsenal have squandered that opportunity. The Gunners have had an entire summer to improve their team and have failed to do so.
Arsene Wenger sees himself as a custodian of the club, but his failure to strengthen the squad is tantamount to neglecting his duties.
Wojciech Szczesny Is Still Prone to Jitters
Wojciech Szczesny is undoubtedly a hugely promising young goalkeeper.
However, he still has much to learn. The greatest deficiencies in his game are psychological. Szczesny can be impetuous, and when he makes a misjudgement, it frequently upsets him for the remainder of the game. He makes the classic mistake of trying too hard to compensate for his errors, and thus one lapse can ruin an entire 90 minutes for the young Pole.
So it proved in this game. After conceding a penalty after an ill-advised lunge at Gabriel Agbonlahor, Szczesny never really regained his cool.
Anthony Taylor Looked out of Practise
On the opening day of the season, one expects the players to look a little rusty. However, on this occasion, it was referee Anthony Taylor who looked most out of practise.
Taylor made a series of questionable decisions, most tellingly when awarding Aston Villa a second penalty. Laurent Koscielny clearly obtained the ball, but the referee overruled his assistant to call a foul.
Premier League managers up and down the country will be hoping Taylor finds his form sooner rather than later.
Olivier Giroud Is Arsenal's Man in Form
Olivier Giroud was Arsenal's most prolific player during preseason, and he carried that form into the Premier League by tucking home the opening goal after just six minutes.
Although Arsenal have failed to sign the marquee striker they patently crave, Giroud's impressive form will be some consolation to Arsene Wenger.
Wenger may need Giroud to carry the side until reinforcements arrive.
Arsenal Will Struggle to Find a Defence to Face Fenerbahce
Arsenal travel to Turkey in midweek for a crucial Champions League qualifier and are likely to be without several key players.
After the match with Aston Villa, Arsene Wenger told Arsenal's official website:
We have some problems to get players back for Wednesday night. Gibbs has a deep cut, Sagna, Rosicky has a problem. Ramsey has a problem with a kick on his ankle.
The absence of Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna, coupled with the fact that Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal are already out injured, means that Arsenal are extremely light in defence.
The Gunners may find themselves having to put together a makeshift back four for one of the most important games of their season.