When I saw the teams, I thought it was going to be a good day. This was going to be the day that Yaya Sanogo got his first Arsenal goal. But I was certainly wrong. The match ended in a frustrating 1-1 draw on the road at Leicester City, and the Gunners go into the final day of the transfer window needing reinforcements.
The beginning of the game went as expected for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s men established possession from the start, gradually taking control of the midfield. Arsenal were fluid in the final third, with everyone interchanging positions. Alexis Sanchez’s goal was well deserved. The ball over the top from Santi Cazorla to Yaya Sanogo was brilliant, and Sanogo’s shot was deflected into Sanchez’s path. From only a few yards out, he was always going to bury it.
But then Arsenal fell asleep, and Leicester got back into the game. Laurent Koscielny lost his man, and Leonardo Ulloa smashed a free header past Wojciech Szczesny for the tying goal. From there, Leicester gained some confidence, and began to look more confident on the ball. Suddenly, they weren’t letting Arsenal have possession at will. And they were attacking with vigor when they got in the final third. By the end of the half, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to say Leicester were outplaying Arsenal.
Arsenal were slow to take off in the second half, and the Foxes had the better of the chances. Sanogo might have scored one, and Ramsey had a decent header, but for the most part, the Gunners didn’t look threatening. Wenger’s insistence to wait out his players drives me insane sometimes. I wish he didn’t wait so long to introduce substitutes. A player like Tomas Rosicky could have changed this match instantly. But instead he waited until the 77th minute to bring on different options, and they hardly got a kick.
There was no life late on like there has been in recent games, and frankly, Arsenal never looked likely to score in the second half. It was incredibly frustrating to watch, because there was no real quality in the Leicester side. These were certainly two dropped points rather than a point earned. Going into a tough stretch of games soon, Arsenal needed all three points today.
We have the international break next, which always feels like it lasts forever after the season has only just started. It should give Arsenal’s injured players some time to recover, and by the time the Gunners take on Manchester City on the 13th, hopefully they should be raring to go. Theo Walcott’s return by the end of September will be a big boost.
But of course the most important thing right now is the transfer window, which closes tomorrow. Surely after watching Sanogo struggle today, Wenger will have to bring somebody in up top. And there seems to be an obvious need defensively too. But there’s no way of telling what is going to happen tomorrow.
Player Ratings (1-10)
Yaya Sanogo – 5.5/10 – The hold up aspect of Sanogo’s play was there for the most part, but his touch let him down on more than one occasion. And while he did play his part in the opening goal, he needed to be better. For example, there were too many times when he made his run too early and was offside unnecessarily. It wasn’t a performance that inspired confidence.
Santi Cazorla – 7/10 – Cazorla looked lively once again today, fluidly roaming around the midfield. His chips over the top of the Leicester line showed off his creative flair, and one of them led to Arsenal’s opening goal. His set pieces left a little to be desired though.
Mesut Özil – 6.5/10 – Özil’s movement was excellent, but he didn’t make many decisive passes in the end. He still is short on fitness, but he needs to do well. The timing of his late injury, when Wenger had just made his final substitutes, was certainly unlucky, but to his credit he got back on the field. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Alexis Sanchez – 7/10 – Sanchez pounced when he got his opportunity in front of goal, grabbing his first Premier League goal. On the day, he looked quite good, making a lot of darting runs. But he tired significantly as the game wore on.
Aaron Ramsey – 6/10 – Ramsey was almost invisible for much of the match. His main job seemed to be chasing down stray passes from his teammates. He looked a little off today. He did pick up his play late on, taking the ball up the field, but overall, it wasn’t his best day.
Mathieu Flamini – 6/10 – Flamini lacked his normal bite today, and didn’t have a strong performance in midfield. Leicester got forward a little too easily at times.
Nacho Monreal – 6.5/10 – Monreal was quiet today except for one fantastic run down the left that set Sanogo up for a shot. The Spanish left back’s defending was solid, and he had a workmanlike approach.
Laurent Koscielny – 5/10 – Koscielny took a nasty blow to the head early on, received some stitches, and returned to the field bravely wearing a blue skull cap. But he promptly lost his man on Leicester’s goal and was soon after withdrawn. I don’t think he should have come back on the field.
Per Mertesacker – 6/10 – Mertesacker was in no-man’s land for Leicester’s opener, and looked disinterested in that moment. He won a few headers in the back though. The big German will be glad to have some extra rest in the international break.
Mathieu Debuchy – 6/10 – At the start of the game, it looked like Debuchy was going to be bombing forward all day down the right. But he didn’t end up having a huge impact on the game. He still hasn’t established a great connection with his teammates in the attacking half.
Wojciech Szczesny – 7/10 – There wasn’t much Szczesny could have done about the first goal, though he did look a little unsettled as he took two steps forward before realizing he couldn’t get to the cross. But he was quick off his line the rest of the day and he claimed crosses well. He also made an excellent save late on.
Calum Chambers (26th) – 6.5/10 – Chambers didn’t have his best game after coming on in the first half. While he didn’t give up a goal when he was on the pitch, he flirted with disaster. He curiously, but cleverly, dribbled through a couple Leicester players in his own box at one point. And he let Leicester in on goal late. He showed some fire when things got testy though, which his teammates will appreciate.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (77th) – N/A – The substitution came too late for the Ox to make an impact.
Lukas Podolski (77th) – N/A – See above. Could this have been Podolski’s final appearance in an Arsenal shirt?