In what promised to be the most fascinating North London in many years, Arsène Wenger was looking forward to the game: “We are still in the rebuilding phase with our confidence so one game with a good result today could increase that”, he told the BBC. Unfortunately, though, this fairly positive outlook did not pay off.
Arsenal did indeed look more of a unit this afternoon, playing with slightly more belief and grit. Had players like Vermaelen and Wilshere been available, this would’ve been witnessed even more, but Wenger had to settle for the excellent but not completely proven Coquelin in the holding role instead of Song. This meant that although there was decent-enough football being played, complete control was lacking.
Yes, it is another defeat – the fourth in seven games – and yes, this would’ve been a winnable game last season but at least Arsenal showed up today. Gervinho and the increasingly criticised Theo Walcott combined well at times and the makeshift defence seemed stronger than it has been in a while. In the midfield, young Coquelin performed very well indeed, proving again that it is youth and not experience that will help to raise Arsenal out of the rut.
Despite Coquelin’s fine display, I would’ve preferred to have seen Frimpong deployed in front of the defence. I rate him higher than the aforementioned Frenchman, especially in that position, and I hope that the rumours that he was left out because of the risk of getting sent off are untrue. Why curb such enthusiasm and passion for the club when it can only lead him to improving and becoming a regular? Still, the fact that we have that option with three of our nine midfielders injured is somewhat reassuring.
Arsenal may have not turned the corner, but by any means we have not gone round the bend.