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Serious transfers needed to stop another disappointing Arsenal season

Match Review: Leicester City 0 Arsenal 0 - Premier League 20.08.16

A baby step in the right direction I suppose. A point away at the defending champions in the second game of the season is not a bad result at all in my view. However, the performance was still lacking and our attack looked fairly blunt. Despite a draw not being a bad result in isolation, it does mean we’ve earned just a single point from our first two games and are already five points behind United, City, Chelsea and…Hull.

After the debacle against Liverpool, Wenger took a risk and restored Laurent Koscielny to the starting line up, despite him not being fully fit. He partnered Rob Holding, who seems to have already jumped above Calum Chambers in the centre back pecking order. Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud made the bench, while Granit Xhaka started his first game, coming in for Elneny. Ramsey and Iwobi are already sidelined with injury, so in came Cazorla and Chamberlain.

The game was very tight, both sides were coming off opening day defeats and I imagine they were both reluctant to commit fully and risk two on the bounce. However, I think in the first half, Arsenal settled better and had the best of the play. Chamberlain went close with a curling effort from range and a Cazorla free kick nearly snuck in at the far post, but for a good save by Schmeichel.

There was a heart stopping moment where Leicester broke away, forcing Cech to make a diving stop at Vardy’s feet and there was then a massive shout for a penalty, as Koscielny brought down Drinkwater who was following up. However, the replays backed up what I thought when I watched it live; Koscielny made a stunning challenge to touch the ball away from Drinkwater at the last moment. Newly tattooed referee Mark Clattenburg rightly waved the appeals away.

That challenge, by Koscielny was the standout moment in a colossal performance at the heart of our defence. Fifteen clearances, three blocks, three interceptions and he didn’t commit a single foul. Without him, Peter Cech would have been a lot busier and we may well have been beaten again. I dare say if we’d have had him against Liverpool, we probably wouldn’t have capitulated in the way we did and may have even won the game. It’s very clear that our fortunes this years are going to be heavily linked to whether or not we have Koscielny in the line up.

Things were a bit more even in the second half, with Leicester probably having the better chances. Vardy in particular had a clear opening, but blazed over under pressure from Koscielny. What became apparent from our perspective was that Morgan and Huth were incredibly comfortable with no physical presence to challenge them up front. Alexis just doesn’t look effective in a lone striking role, he has to come deep to affect the play and leaves us with no focal point to build around. Hopefully Giroud will be fit enough to start next week against Watford, because we desperately need Alexis back on the flank and someone in the middle to cross to.

In the end, I think we should probably be happy with the draw, especially as Leicester had another strong penalty shout turned down very late on when Bellerin tangled with Musa. This one could easily have been given and I’ve never been so glad to see Clattenburg’s extravagant penalty denial signal. We were also very lucky that we finished with eleven men, as Coquelin could easily have been sent off for two yellow card offences.

Clearly we are a much better team with Koscielny in it and hopefully we’ll improve a lot more when both Özil and Giroud can start. Xhaka and Holding were both impressive, while there were a few limited sparks from Walcott and Chamberlain. There are positive signs, but also issues that need addressing. We badly need a centre back and another option up front, even with the good news about Welbeck’s recovery being accelerated. If we lose Giroud for any amount of time in between now and when Danny is ready to return then we’ll be in serious trouble. There can simply be no more excuses, Arsène and Arsenal need to do some serious work in the market over the next couple of weeks, or it may be another disappointing season.

koscielny drinkwater penalty tackle arsenal leicester king power cech


Leicester (4-4-1-1)
Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Mendy (Y) (King 53’), Albrighton (Musa 87’), Mahrez, Okazaki (Ulloa 67’), Vardy
Hernandez, Musa, King, Amartey, Ziegler, Gray, Ulloa

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Holding (Y), Monreal, Coquelin (Y), Xhaka (Wilshere 73’), Walcott, Cazorla (Özil 73’), Chamberlain (Giroud 78’), Alexis
Ospina, Gibbs, Wilshere, Chambers, Giroud, Elneny, Özil

Player Ratings

Cech - 8/10 - Made some very important saves, particularly from Mahrez at the end
Bellerin - 6/10 - Largely solid, until Musa came on and nearly won a penalty off him
Koscielny - 10/10 - A faultless performance, titanic in defence
Holding - 7/10 - Still a little rough around the edges, but looks a great talent
Monreal - 7/10 - Another solid unassuming game going forward and at the back
Xhaka - 8/10 - An excellent first start, his passing was sublime
Coquelin - 7/10 - Combative, but nearly overly so, could easily have seen red
Walcott - 7/10 - Had a few bright moments, but still to find any real form
Cazorla - 6/10 - Looked a few miles off the pace, worryingly so
Chamberlain 7/10 - Similar to Walcott, a few bright sparks but nothing more
Alexis - 5/10 - Another ineffective outing up front, I hope he can return to the wing now
Wilshere - 6/10 - Didn’t get into the game, but will hopefully play a big part in our season
Özil - 7/10 - Showed in his brief cameo that he is a cut above
Giroud - N/A

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Tags: Koscielny, Match Review, Match Report, Leciester vs Arsenal, Alexis is not a striker

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