Well, I have to say that after the first half on Saturday there’s no way I thought I’d be sitting here writing about a scrappy draw to kick the season off. I don’t think it’s the end of the world but I am disappointed. There were a couple of big refereeing decisions that didn’t fall our way, but I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t rely on referees to win and we should have taken more of our chances.
Positives? Well, Suarez looked hungry and lively despite his touch deserting him on more than one occasion. It’s important to remember that he only trained once with the team beforehand, and that he’s never played with several of the players previously. The lad has had a hectic summer but we all know his class and he’ll soon be sharp again. Adam continues to impress with his commitment and creativity, Downing showed a few glimpses of the player we worked so hard to capture, and Enrique slotted in pretty seamlessly with a quietly composed performance. Carroll was unfortunate to have a goal chalked off (wrongly in my opinion; it’s supposed to be a contact sport) and could well have gone on to get a couple on another day. He’ll score a few for us this season I’m sure.
Negatives? Apologies to Flanagan but he never really got going; caught ball-watching for the equaliser and a few silly mistakes as well, fortunately he’s young enough to learn from this performance and no doubt will kick on and keep improving. Henderson too was somewhat of a let-down given the praise Kenny had lavished upon him recently. I think he’s still suffering from a dreadful run of results last season and needs confidence but it’s clear Kuyt should be first choice on the right for now. There was a general sloppiness to our passing in the second half which was as frustrating as it was reminiscent of the dark days last season under Hodgson (sorry for bringing that up!), I’m optimistic enough to put that down to a lack of understanding amongst the players though which should come with time. However, perhaps the biggest negative was the inability to spark into life again after an admittedly brilliant Larsson volley. No doubt much of this can be attributed again to new players learning the system but even the established ones such as Lucas were lacking in ideas and guilty of nervous, impatient passing.
I hope this result hasn’t got people too depressed though after all the excitement in the build-up. Remember, Arsenal drew without scoring, Chelsea drew without scoring, Man Utd scraped through despite only mustering one shot on target all afternoon and lost Vidic, Ferdinand and Rafael through injury for a few weeks. Not so bad amongst that lot eh? Arsenal on Saturday is where we should be directing our energies and they’re wobbling at the moment, let’s channel our frustration into support for the team and knock them down like we’re capable of. Don’t let’s forget that this season is one of building firm foundations from which to start challenging in the long term. Don’t let’s forget that each and every one of those players pulling on a red shirt wants to win just as much as we do.