It’s hard to decide whether Arsenal are pleased with their performance in the Champions League qualifiers or should be worried about it. Other things are clear, such as the disastrous performance from Olivier Giroud who hasn’t shown any improvement over the last eight or nine months, and the importance of Aaron Ramsey finding himself sent off in the final minutes.
Ramsey wasn’t great, but along with Calum Chambers they were the only players offering Wenger their best form. Alexis Sanchez struggled in the role of creating to Olivier Giroud. Sanchez did offer some nice touches and creative vision, but the condition of the pitch and the overall slump of those around him, including Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta who picked up a knock during the game, another thing for Wenger to worry about, meant that Sanchez’ efforts didn’t have someone to finish them.
The finisher job, in theory, is Giroud’s. A striker, a lone striker, which seems to be getting an endless amount of faith from Arsene Wenger. He didn’t sign a new striker despite needing one, and he didn’t take the Frenchman off the pitch, while Joel Campbell probably deserves more than 90 minutes on the bench considering all of his improvement at Olympiakos and some of his performances for the Costa Rica national team.
Demba Ba, on the other end, was a complete opposite to Giroud in all but one thing: The horrible missed opportunities. Ba made an outrageous effort at kick off which would have been the goal of the season had it gone in, but his miss from a 100% position right before half time was the more memorable one. Giroud, in the times when the link up play with midfielders (maybe he’s just missing Mesut Ozil) did work, was wasteful as ever.
Right now, Arsenal need more time to click together. Or maybe Arsene Wenger needs to scrap his current ideas. The pitch is a good excuse, a valid one, but Arsenal looked bad in the win over Crystal Palace as well. There seems to be an over reliance on the abilities of Aaron Ramsey to create something with his unstoppable work and pushes forward, only there wasn’t enough help from those around him.
The tactics create a narrow, tight formation. Maybe it was just for this match, but without natural wingers on the pitch, one might think that it’s the whole idea. Arsenal had an impressive streak of 12 wins in Champions League qualifying matches going which has now ended. While they’re still the favorites to go through, their ability and the absence of Aaron Ramsey, their best player, makes the next match instill a bit less confidence than under normal circumstances.