By Atishay Agarwal
It was like watching last season all over again. We took the lead against a lesser side, dominated possession and passed the ball around with ease all day, but failed to kill them off. In fact, we wasted so many dangerous positions and some glorious chances, and on occasions our attackers looked bereft of ideas in the final third. It’s the first game of the season, though, and what was most important was to get all three points. Here are the ratings:
Almunia – 6 – He was largely untested, though he made one or two good saves. But he still doesn’t come out quickly enough to collect long balls and help his defenders, and some times rushes off his line all the way till the edge of the penalty area when there’s no need to. He’s a much improved keeper from three years back, but he still needs to improve, I feel.
Sagna – 6 – It was a solid if unspectacular performance by Goldilocks yesterday. He was comfortable while defending but didn’t do as much as he is capable of when going forward.
Gallas – 7 – There were times when our defence looked shaky, but Willy was more than effective in one-on-one situations. He saved us on a few occasions, notably when he rushed back and cleared off the line in the second half.
Djourou – 6 – A bit of a topsy-turvy display by our other Swiss defender, as he was composed most of the times, but lost the plot at times, especially at their ‘almost’ goal. Gallas had more than a word to say to him then. Hopefully, it’ll help.
Clichy – 7.5 – Gael was his usual self, and was even quicker than usual. He made a number of interceptions and bombed forward whenever he could. One electrifying run from the edge of our own penalty area in the second half was simply breathtaking. He coped admirably in defence as well, and was untroubled throughout the game.
Walcott – 5 – A disappointing start for Theo to the season which many say will be ‘his’. He gave the ball away a number of times, and his first touch still lets him down frequently. Maybe Arsene should try him up front, what say?
Eboue – 6.5 – I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him lined up as a central midfielder, and what left me more baffled was that he looked better in the middle than he did on the right last year! He was quite assured in his play, and distributed the ball well. Having said that, some of his efforts on goal were ridiculous and utterly wasteful.
Denilson – 7 – The Brazilian had an impressive game, and dictated a lot of our attacking play. His intelligent run and cut-back set up the goal, and he tried to up the tempo all game with his passing. A definite improvement on last season.
Nasri(MoM) – 8 – Could he have asked for a better start to his Arsenal career? Neither could I! We usually see new signings from abroad go missing in their early games and not make an impact in their first 3-4 months in the league, but he got off the blocks straight away. Apart from the cool finish, his passing, mazy runs, and general play was top notch. Hleb who?
Bendtner – 5.5 – Nicklas started the game well, and passed the ball around impressively, especially the one to Clichy in the build up to the goal. As the match wore on, however, he faded away, and didn’t do anything of note in the second half.
Adebayor – 5 – He was looking dangerous in the first half and troubled the West Brom defence almost all game, but he was guilty of wasting chance after chance for the team. Some of his play was a bit selfish too, and his decision-making in the final third left a lot to be desired. Also, he got more and more predictable throughout the game, which made it slightly easier for them to defend against him. But let’s not criticize him. We know it takes him 3 straightforward chances to score, doesn’t it?
Toure – 5 – Why was he playing on the right wing for Christ’s sake? I thought he would take his place in defence, Djourou would switch to midfield and Eboue to right back. Wenger probably thought of giving him just a run out to regain fitness, but we can’t play our players in just about any position on the field, you know.
Van Persie – 5.5 – Robin didn’t influence the game much after coming on, and looked just a little rusty. Extra points for not getting injured.