The first game this season has passed and what a tough one we got. Let's not make a mistake about this; Anfield away is one of the toughest fixtures we could have got. In this particular season, it perhaps was the hardest from the lot. The fact that Liverpool has got a new manager that has certainly brought a feel good factor back to that part of Merseyside, and also the fact that they made a very good signing with Joe Cole and more importantly kept Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres at the club. When speaking on the weekly fan's forum on Arsenal TV Online, Tom Watt asked if I would take a draw and after much thought I said I would. It was important not to lose and certainly after keeping the ball pretty much the whole game; it would have been a huge disappointment to lose, so a draw was not a bad result.
Apart from the obvious issues, like the sending’s offs and goals, there were a few other things I picked up on. Jack Wilshire started his biggest ever game for Arsenal and had a mixed game. He was always available for a pass and his general passing was tidy, he however, did get booked for a slightly rash tackle and also made a little mistake for the Liverpool goal. He will learn from this game and this game could be the making of him. With Nasri out injured (which I will come to later) Wilshire may get a few more games. There's a big decision to make for the Blackpool game for Mr Wenger about Wilshire but he may just find himself starting two games back to back in the Premier League for the first time.
Another point I picked up on was the impact from the bench. I thought, for the first time in years, our bench looked very strong in an attacking sense. It was like the old days earlier in Mr Wenger's reign where he put all his attacking players on when chasing a goal. I personally thought he may take Arshavin off but instead he went for the more attacking move and took Eboue and Wilshire off, then Diaby off and all 3 were replaced by attacking players. Many applauded the impact of Walcott, who seems to have gained a lot of confidence from his display at Wembley the other week that he even insisted to take a free-kick from shooting distance. The vision of a number 14 taking a free-kick brought many memories back and Theo did look like a certain Thierry Henry (of TH14 as he was known as). The standard of the free-kick was good too, and produced a good save from Reina. However, for me, Thomas Rosicky made the biggest impact from the bench and I thought he was outstanding. He played like an advanced quarter back or a ball carrier in Basketball. He also wanted the ball and kept spreading the play and tried to bring others into play. It was like the Thomas Rosicky of old before his injury and when things were not happening, he took it upon himself to drive forward and was so close to getting a goal but to a fine save from Reina. I hope he can keep this sort of form up as he could be like a new player, great credit to him that he has kept going and he could just be rewarded.
Keeping on the theme of the game, Pepe Reina was someone who got in the headlines for the wrong reasons according to most Arsenal fans this summer. While the Barcelona players were taking it in turns to try and lower Cesc Fabregas's price so he could be bought on the cheap, Pepe Reina joined in. He held down Cesc and called Cesc the 'future of Barcelona'. What it has to do with Pepe Reina? I have no idea! I do believe in karma and justice after watching Reina buddle the ball in the back of the net. After everything he did this summer, it was about right what happened to him. He does not see me writing about Torres or Gerrard going to other clubs does he?
Mid-week we found out that Samir Nasri is out for a month after having some minor surgery which is a massive blow. He has looked sharp in pre-season and for the second year running, he will start the season on the sidelines (I no he started the Liverpool game but it’s practically still the start). It does perhaps open the door to Wilshire, Rosicky and Walcott or could mean Robin Van Persie can play somewhere or could just be a straight swap with skipper Cesc Fabregas.
I have not really spoken about Cesc much, but I am so pleased we managed to keep him. It shows that we can keep our best players if we work hard. Cesc is such a great player and one that can do something special in a game. He is such an important part of our team and he needed to stay in order for the team to develop. He may go next year or he may not, but Arsenal winning a title or cup could convince Cesc to stay at our football club and that is what we must go for.
Finally I would like to thank everyone for their kind messages I received after my brief appearance on Sky Sports News where I used a line to describe Barcelona's pursuit of our captain. It went " If I went into Tesco and had a trolley full of items and went to the check out and said I don’t have enough money, what would they say?" That is what Barcelona has done. They want our captain but do not have the money to pay his full value hence their tactics to lower the price. I want to thank all that gave me such positive messages and some even thanked me for sticking up for our club! I am very grateful for them all. Thank you.
Lets go get the 3 points against Blackpool and start our home season with a win, for those like me who are attending, try getting in early as the stands are being renamed and there is plenty going on before the game (whispers are their will be fireworks, banners etc) and lets get behind the team on Saturday and for the whole season.
Come on you Arsenal!
Also feel free to follow me on twitter: www.twitter.com/10akhil