After two unimpressive match to start his Arsenal career, Petr Cech performed perfectly in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool with a first half performance that was eventually worth a point to the gunners, making some reflex-saves very few goalkeepers can do themselves.
The bad news for Arsenal is that after two home matches they’re still without a goal at the Emirates stadium, but they were robbed of one when Aaron Ramsey’s first half strike was wrongfully ruled offside. It’s still just four points out of nine for Wenger and his players, and he’s yet to find the right kind of balance to his lineup, which wasn’t boosted by key absences on the defensive side.
Maybe if it wasn’t for that unimpressive defense, Cech wouldn’t be complimented for his performance. The combination of Calum Chambers, Gabriel Paulista and Hector Bellerin allowed the Liverpool front line pressure to create numerous chances in the first half, most of them testing Cech’s ability to react quickly and stretch his aging limbs. A couple of times it was the goal frame that got in the way of Liverpool taking the lead.
But there were good things besides Cech making himself noticed. Aaron Ramsey was a delight and the most dangerous player for Arsenal, the only one trying to score from a distance. Alexis Sanchez did exhaust himself, but remains Arsenal’s best player in creating space for himself and others while moving all around the pitch, always attacking from a new angle.
Francis Coquelin did make way in the final minutes for a more attacking player in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but if there was one player who managed to get in the way of the Liverpool counter attacks it was the young French defensive midfielder, who might not be the big-framed stopper many Arsenal fans are hoping for, but right now he’s the best option they have at the position, and not a bad one at that.
Arsenal remain “naive” for lack of a better word, preferring the 1-2 pass and trying to thread the ball behind a well prepared defense then changing things up with some crosses or shooting from outside the box. Wenger didn’t turn to a quicker, wider lineup in time, and either Theo Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain would have been much more useful in the starting lineup, or at least playing Santi Cazorla in a wider position, which was beneficial in the early goings of the season half.
Already five points behind the league leaders doesn’t count Arsenal out of the championship race – this is still August. But despite the early season ravings about a team that’s finally built to go all the way, Wenger and his choices in formations, lineups and additions (or lack of them so far) remains a hindrance for a side that has its moments of providing beautiful football, but as usual lacks the straightforwardness truly great teams possess.