On a day when little else mattered for Arsenal other than the three points, Arsene Wenger and company had it in them to produce a scrappy win away at Selhurst Park last weekend.
After a poor match against West Ham in the opening game, Olivier Giroud ended his 625 minutes without a Premier League goal with a fierce scissor kick. Francis Coquelin was lucky to leave the pitch in a substitution rather than after a red following his two naive and rash tackles.
Restored back into the starting line-up, Alexis Sanchez picked up from where he had left last season; troubling defenders at will. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started pre-season with a bang and Sunday’s game was no different. He was again impressive; using his pace and trickery to his advantage and forced Delaney into a block with a powerful shot.
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At only 22, the former Southampton player shows that he could be as useful at assisting as scoring. Though Arsenal won ugly, there were plenty of positives for Arsene Wenger to pick from the tenacious display.
For instance, the Gunners once again proved to naysayers that they could defend a one-goal lead. However, there were just as many reasons to warrant concern.
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For starters, unless Petr Cech forges a more solid understanding with the back four then he won't be the 15-point man the Gunners think they have within their ranks. For the second time in as many games, Cech let in a goal many people would feel was rather easy for a goalkeeper of his stature to save.
He was not entirely at fault though. Laurent Koscielny, guilty of not doing enough to prevent Mauro Zarate scoring a low shot two weeks ago, was again culpable.
By turning his back in a manner that John Terry or Gary Cahill would never have risked, Koscielny failed to deal with Ward’s dash forward and consequently his keeper let in another goal in the bottom corner.
Wenger was at it again, fielding his £35 million man with plenty of talent on the bench. Chamberlain could only make it to the substitutes bench as Alexis Sanchez was summoned to provide the momentum to turn game in their favor.
The Chilean is a top player but that he is always the one to be called upon to drag the team along against tough opposition. If Wenger watched Man City dismantle Chelsea on match day two, then the Frenchman will be under no illusion the gap his team needs to bridge before it can be considered truly elite.
In Olivier Giroud, they have a man who has mastered the art of eliciting mixed opinions. It is a clear indicator that he is not yet world-class and will probably never be. Accordingly, Wenger should seek an upgrade to his gargantuan countryman.
The sight of Arteta coming off the bench was again a sign that Arsenal has very limited options in the defensive midfield position and will struggled should Coquelin falter or be unavailable.
Both Karim Benzema and Sevilla's Grzegorz Krychowiak have been linked with the Gunners all summer. The two players would be invaluable additions to an Arsenal side in dire need of freshness. With only two games gone, it's quite evident that the north Londoners have a number of shortcomings.
Consequently, Wenger should move in to patch those cracks while the season is still young. If not, he risks the perpetual last minute dash for a top four finish.
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