Sunday 6 August 2023

Arsenal 1-1 Man City (decided on pens)

Substitutions are not over-rated. Palmer scored a 'beaut', it has to be said. What a sucker punch! Foden and Palmer were game-changers, after Arsenal effectively dealt with the threat of Haaland and the first £100-million pound player, Grealish. Both were totally snuffed out, but City have proper options on the bench. I mean, how do you stop De Bruyne?

Taking off the impressive Timber may have been a mistake from Arsenal's point of virw. Tierney is excellent, but Timber is what you use to build a house! What a player! A hard act to follow!

As is Martinelli! He was withdrawn too for Trossard, perhaps too late for the Belgian to have an impact. So the master beats the apprentice, thanks to his substitutions.

The next substitution was crazy: the effective Rice for Nketiah. As much as many wanted Nketiah on, how could Rice be taken off. Alongside Timber, he was one of Arsenal's best players.

Vieira and Smith-Rowe came on for Havertz and Gabriel, late on. They were never going to make a difference with 2 minutes on the clock. Maybe they were on for appearance money. Smith-Rowe is a genius, but he needs more than 120 seconds to make an impact.

All in all, it was a good work out though. Arsenal look stronger than last season. The first trophy is gone, but the Gunners will mount a challenge, based on this performance.

It would be good if Brentford's Raya is added to the squad, even if he does cost £40m, he's well worth it. Ramsdale was decent today, but Raya will push him hard for the top spot between the sticks.

None of the subs made an impact on this occasion. Smith-Rowe, Nketiah and Trossard are loved, quite rightly, but the only sub in living memory who has made a difference with so few minutes left on the clock is Reiss (I see no clock) Nelson! And then just I wrote that, Trossard scores with the help of a massive deflection. Lucky Arsenal! Luckless Akanji! So it goes to penalties!

However, the lack of strength in depth was obvious today. I'm not sure Raya could have saved the shot from Palmer, but there needs to be proper competition for each position. Ramsdale is a possible world great, but he needs to be pushed.

Whatever the result, Arteta should reflect on a good day's work. Timber was excellent. Rice was too. Havertz was good. Arteta's substitutions, in terms of timing, could have been better, as in earlier. However, he is still the apprentice: he's not the master yet!

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