Arsenal Defeat Köln & Look Good Doing It

Posted: August 12, 2012 in Arsenal
Tags: , ,

I overslept & only caught the first twenty minutes or so of the second half, so I didn’t get a chance to see Santi Cazorla or Olivier Giroud make their Arsenal debuts but from listening to the Arsenal commentary at halftime (I forgot the two guys’ names that were speaking, I believe one was Dan So & So from the Arsenal radio team) I have a sneaking suspicion Santi Cazorla may be the new shirt that is seen more often around the stadium than even Podolski.

The Spaniards passing was apparently noticeably exquisite & top quality.  He also showed his ambidextrous talent for control with both feet.  From Arseblog’s liveblog of the friendly:

28

Cazorla looks absolute class thus far … what a signing he could turn out to benayoun (sic)

29

haha, I meant ‘be’, but we have an autocomplete thing which needs some work.

36

Great stuff again Cazorla, noticeable how often he switches play with either foot to give us time/space

This man will make grown men in North London sound
like schoolgirls at time this upcoming season

From all accounts, Arsenal dominated much of the match, especially in the first half where they took a 3-nil lead.  Cazorla, as I speculated as a possibility, played in the advanced midfield role of the midfield triangle in front of Oxlade-Chamberlain & Coquelin.  This is the second match in a row Oxlade-Chamberlain has played in a midfield role rather than on the wings as he did last year, so, Arsène Wenger looks to be instituting his projected move of The Ox to midfield now.  It makes sense given the attacking options we’ve signed plus that move will allow us further versatility in midfield & possible formations too (especially given the rumored move back to or as a “Plan B,” a 4-4-2).

The goals were scored, firstly, by Vermaelen off of a near post header help-on that had everyone speculating about Steve Bould’s influence (which Vermaelen himself has recently hailed), then a brace from hometown boy Lukas Podolski before Gervinho rounded out the scoring with a fine solo run down the left before finishing at the near post on a deceptive shot when the keeper was looking for a cross along the ground.

Which reminds me, Gervinho has apparently looked quite good in pre-season & coupled with the new signings,  we Gunner fans can’t help but be excited for the season to start.  Hell, even mercurial (read as “sometimes lazy”) Arshavin looked interested & bright in this game (he was playing in the twenty or so minutes I saw before falling asleep; LOL!).  Youngster Serge Gnabry also played decently in his short time on the pitch, so appearances in the League Cup are a given for him but it wouldn’t shock me at all if Wenger springs a surprise now & then & includes him on the bench for some cup, league, or even Champions’ League matches.  Maybe if we face Sp*rs in the Champions’ League knockout stages.  Oh wait…

Except for the still maddeningly regular odd defensive mistake, Arsenal also looked more organized defensively too.  And not just in defense but from an overall team defensive standpoint, which is something that Vermaelen points out in the aforementioned Steve Bould influence link above that has been a key point the team has been working on in pre-season training.

But before we put the cart before the horse, let’s temper ourselves just a bit & realize that Köln is a 2. Bundesliga side this season & this match was a pre-season friendly but the signs are looking bright for Arsenal, us, to make a real challenge in the league & certainly in the cups.  Although I don’t think we can add the Champions’ League to that list as that’s just such a difficult competition to win & we struggled at times in that competition historically even with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, etc.

The Arsenal starting lineup versus Köln looked like this:

Mannone

Yennaris – Mertesaecker – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Oxlade Chamberlain – Coquelin

Cazorla

Walcott – Giroud – Podolski

Arsenal then made wholesale changes at the break making a second half lineup of:

Szczesny

Jenkinson – Koscielny – Djourou – André Santos

Song – Diaby

Arshavin

Gervinho – Podolski – Gnabry

Serge Gnabry & Podolski made way for Marouane Chamakh & Robin van Persie, respectively, in the 69th minute.  Now, I’ll leave others to speculate what van Persie coming on in the 69th minute means since there will be plenty of that in enough media outlets.  Van Persie did, however, take the captain’s armband to wear when he entered the match.  So again, make of that what you will.

Video highlights of the Arsenal dominance of Köln & the match report from the official site.

2 goals, a job done  & all smiles!
Poldi Goldi Hallelujah!

(photos courtesy of Arsenal.com)

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