I had a look at last week's game again and had a think about what went wrong? Obviously, a point wasn't a disaster, but three would have been considerably nicer!
Tim Peters commentated and Martin Hayes summarised on Arsenal Player and, on a personal note, I have to say I miss Stewart Houston. Will he ever come back? I hope so! Hayes called Andrey Arshavin 'Anchovin', at one point, or at least that's what it sounded like to me! The anchovy had a much better game than he got credit for. Yes, he made a couple of stray passes and gave away one silly free kick, but that's all he did wrong. He did a lot right in his 17 minutes (including additional time) on the pitch. He did a lot more than Abou Diaby, who gave the ball away unnecessarily far too much, and Aaron Ramsey, who looked reasonably sharp, compared to the end of last season. And don't get me started on 'Corporal' Carl Jenkinson. He didn't do anything majorly (see had to get an army rank in there!) wrong, but he also gives the ball away too much.
Hayes was waxing lyrical about Gervinho, but I didn't see much end product from the Ivorian. He ran down some blind alleys at times, running the ball out of play on at least one occasion and running into trouble on many more. He was much more involved than Theo Walcott, but the latter looked a more likely goalscorer or goal provider, even having a header on goal. Anyway, looks like Hayes will slag off Theo just as much as Robbo used to in the summariser seat, judging by this comment about Theo: 'barring one run, he's not been allowed to have any impact'. Anyway, I liked Gervinho's endeavour and I'm not suggesting he played badly at all. I'm just saying he wasn't any better in terms of impact than Theo, that's all. Probably a bit worse.
The star man was clearly Santi Cazorla. He makes everything look so simple. He has immense skill and is not afraid to work hard. I was watching Sunderland's Lee Cattermole, who we've been tenuously linked with in the past, and he made sleepy Song look industrious in comparison. I don't know if he was carrying an injury, but I didn't see him running off the ball much or marking up spare players. Other than that, he had a sound game, but I certainly wouldn't sign a defensive midfielder lacking in the effort department, so I hope Arsenal don't.
I was alarmed to see Sir Chesney (Wojciech Szczeny) nearly losing his knighthood coming out for a ball that new skipper Thomas Vermaelen tidied up. When will our Polish knight learn to stay on his line? It seems to be an Arsenal phenomenon. Have a word with our keepers please, Gerry Peyton!
Anyway, the knight kept a clean sheet, so we've got to be happy with that. But the star keeper of the week has to be James Shea. His heroics against Bolton's U21 side have to be seen to be believed. A triple save kept the Trotters out when Arsenal were a goal and a man down.
My favourite young player, Conor Henderson, also got the plaudits for a fine goal from a free kick. The senior professionals could learn a thing or two from this dead ball specialist, who also scored from a penalty. Give a Conor another first-team chance please Arsene, don't loan him out!
The U21s victory made up for the U18s getting slaughtered by their Bolton counterparts. There were few pluses. Jon Toral scored a good goal and, at times, reminded me of (dare I say it?) a young Robin van Persie!
Anyway, the future's bright at Arsenal judging by the U21s, at least!