By Walter Broeckx
Losing the first match of the season is most of the time a downer of course. But we didn’t play as we know we can play and we made a few vital mistakes. Both of them leading to a goal. And that was it. But how did it come that far? A few things I want to highlight a bit that can be the reason why it didn’t work out as planned.
First of all: West Ham seemed in much better shape than we did and they looked much fitter than our players. And that is really no surprise. We started our preparations around half July for most players and West Ham at that time were already playing Europe League matches. So they have been training and playing for at least 3 weeks more than we have. When you play teams that have the same preparation like against Chelsea that doesn’t show that much. But when you play a team that is in halfway September form like West Ham clearly is then you can notice the difference.
Our players all looked rather heavy legged for most of the match and their players were most of the time quicker and sharper to react to what the ball did. Pre-season fatigue compared to full season fitness if you want to compare it.
Another thing is the two goals we conceded. I wonder what would have happened now if we wouldn’t have bought Cech and it had been Szczesny or Ospina in goal in this match. I bet that a few would be foul mouthing off Wenger for not having bought that world class goalkeeper we lacked all those years. Fact is that even world class goalkeepers can make mistakes. And costly mistakes.
Now of course they cannot blame Wenger for this as he has done what they had told him to do but at the end of this match it didn’t matter who was in goal. Or maybe it did? The good thing is that Cech has been there and done it all before and so his experience will see him through such a bad match but it also shows that no matter how good or bad you are, you can have bad matches when you are a great player and you can have that one exceptional match when you are a bad player(not that there are bad players in the PL).
However I must say that I was a bit surprised with the fact that Debuchy was playing in the place of Bellerin. Was Bellerin injured? [Yes Walter, in his pre-match interview on the screens at the Ems he said it was a minor injury – Tony] Because he wasn’t even on the bench. And I thought that if Bellerin wasn’t injured he should have played in this match without any doubt.
Because it was no rocket science that West Ham would park the bus. And now we played with the two most defensive wing backs we have and that cost us in my opinion in our attack. If Bellerin was injured Wenger might have gone for Gibbs at the left wing to compensate the miss of Bellerin. But he went for the older defenders and the most defensive defenders at that. And that against a team that parked the bus and we know they would do this.
I felt that our attacks on the flanks never really came to life and that is a vital part of how we play and of our build up. Now it all came too much down to being soaked up near the middle of the field making it easier for West Ham to put their defenders in place.
I also thought that if we were going to play with Debuchy and Monreal it would be more when we go away against more attacking opponents and not against a team like West Ham.
Another thing I have mentioned before is that Oxlade-Chamberlain sometimes still has lapses where he loses concentration too much. And unfortunately mostly around our own penalty area. It has cost us a few goals last season and now in pre-season he did it again against Everton in the Asia cup. It only cost us a goal then but it is something he has to work on. Of course he is still young and will leave those mistakes out of his game in the future but now is good time for him to start the future.
So for me losing this match is a combination of a few things coming together. The overall fitness made a big difference, the fact that we played with heavy legs and the fact that a few players committed big mistakes. Big mistakes we shouldn’t make again. But this is football and played by human beings so mistakes will be made. But not at this rate, if possible.
Despite winning the CS against Chelsea (who are also at our level of fitness and seem to be struggling) I still feel this team is and will move forward in their preparation. The players will become fitter and stronger and faster in match conditions. I have no doubt about that.
We had a good few rehearsals and then sometimes the première goes up in the air for some unknown reason. But one bad show doesn’t mean there will be a bad season. Wenger mentioned it in his presconferene before the match that the pre-season and the start of the season came too soon for us. And so it showed today on the field.
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