Arsenal don’t usually come out of these games with a positive feeling. Away against the champions, Manchester City, going down 1-0 after 40 minutes, conceding from a set piece. The usual recipe for another loss in the money time (if you can call it money time this early in the season against a big team. Laurent Koscielny changed that generic script.
Playing better on the road against a strong team isn’t new for the gunners, who simply played the better football on the day. Santi Cazorla wasn’t at his best, but Aaron Ramsey and Abou Diaby were fantastic in their possession and decisions, but Lukas Podolski wasn’t as involved as always while Gervinho was back to his usual self – getting by a player and trying too hard to continue with the dribble, while missing countless chances.
The way the defense handled the usual fearsome City strike force was commendable, even without Thomas Vermaelen. Laurent Koscielny shed off all accounts of softness with fantastic tackling and aerial prowess, while scoring his fifth goal for the club, giving Arsenal a point they deserved. Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez. They were all, each in his own turn, well below the level you’d expect from them.
Kieran Gibbs is another wonderful blessing for Arsene Wenger this season, finally becoming a top left back in both his attacking and defending, making all the patience and trial by error seem worthwhile. Carl Jenkinson, although a bit less flashy than Gibbs, is also becoming quite a wise choice to play on the right side. After all these years, Arsenal actually have a defense to be counted on, conceding only two goals in the first five matches.
But the scoring might become a problem at one point. Not using Theo Walcott always seems bizarre to me, especially when Wenger is playing some sort of 4-4-2 just without actual strikers. Podolski, despite the number on shirt, isn’t a 9, while Gervinho can’t play the role of a striker as well. The boosted midfield worked well for most of the match, but you can see Arsenal struggling to score with just Podolski and Gervinho up front, especially on days when Santi Cazrola isn’t as involved as he should be.
Olivier Giroud might be in the plans when Arsenal have an easier match at home, but at the moment, the French striker seems to be the odd man out when it comes to attackers. An actual striker, pretty much the only one Wenger has in his squad, but far from a pleasing option from what we’ve seen from the player up till now. Arsenal will need someone to rely on goals for. While Podolski is a good bet for someone to score in double figures, Arsenal need someone else who can be relied upon, and not just show his best when they play at home against Southampton.