Arsenal beat Koln 3-1 at the Emirates last night after kick-off got delayed by almost an hour to subdue the chaos caused outside by some supporters.
Arsenal began their game with Koln after a one-hour delay filled with pandemonium and crowd trouble. A wonder strike from Jhon Cordoba put the 18th-placed Bundesliga side ahead within the first ten minutes. The first half ended that way, and the half-time whistle was greeted with a lot of boos from the home fans.
Things were looking dreadful for the Gunners, and a switch of formation in the second half ensued. That allowed new recruit Sead Kolasinac to level things with a stunning volley shortly after the second half began. Arsenal eventually went on to take the lead in the 67th minute, thanks to a solid strike from Alexis Sanchez.
A close-range shot from Hector Bellerín in the 81st minute settled a game that was initially going downhill for the Gunners. Arsenal managed to seal the crucial three points, and will be a lot more confident heading into their Premier League match against Chelsea. THT takes a look at five talking points:
Wenger’s tactics save the day
The Arsenal manager has always received plenty of flack for not being a stellar tactician. Their Premier League performances have not been too encouraging either but last night’s performance was definitely a step in the right direction.
Arsene Wenger made plenty of changes in the second half which translated to positive results on the field. In fact, one might even say that he made those changes with the upcoming Chelsea encounter in mind, especially since it was evident from the start that the 3-4-3 was not working.
Wenger switched it up to a 4-2-3-1 and it worked. Substitute Sead Kolasinac used the ball well in deeper areas and Alexis Sanchez was able to run at Koln from the left channel. However, it remains to be seen if Wenger will be brave enough to not match up the Blues on Sunday.
Sead Kolasinac – best summer signing for Arsenal?
Whether Wenger was saving Kolasinac for Sunday or not remains to be seen, but the former Schalke star has proven to be decisive in the final third. The amount of control he exerted on the field was truly remarkable.
His strength also helps the Gunners defend better from set-pieces and his composure on the ball offers a better outlet down the left flank. He has been an instrumental figure in Arsenal’s previous matches in the Premier League so far, and will prove to be especially vital against Chelsea.
The Gunners may look at Kolasinac’s quality on the ball as a mainstay of their attack going forward, which can only benefit the side and help them in strengthening their front line. Moreover, if he links up with Alexis Sanchez on a regular basis, Wenger may have the luxury of one of the best left sides in the Premier League.
Jack Wilshere’s much-awaited return
For the first time in over a year, Jack Wilshere proudly made his way across the Emirate to play for Arsenal. Greeted by a thundering ovation from the Emirates faithful, Wilshere came on as a sub in the 68th minute. He did not play for long but he used his time on field extremely judiciously.
In his short cameo, the 25-year old proved to us that he still has a future in North London. Wilshere linked up well with Giroud, played Sanchez through a couple of times and distributed well from the middle. Moreover, the change in formation allowed Wilshere to play at No 10, where he could make incisive runs into the final third.
Last night’s performance saw Wilshere play in a more mature and strong manner. He was a joy to watch and if his fitness can hold up, he’ll provide Wenger with more options in the future. It almost seems like a good thing now that he chose to stay back with the Gunners instead of leaving the club this summer.
David Ospina cannot be a reliable option
When Cordoba opened the scoring for Koln in the 10th minute, Ospina already looked like he was tired. The Colombian keeper initially did well to anticipate a long through ball but it was his clearance that let himself – and the rest of the team – down.
Instead of pushing the ball away, Ospina opted to gift the ball back to Koln in his own half. What followed was a wonder strike from Cordoba, who lobbed Ospina from close to 40 yards out, which paved the way for a stunned silence across the Emirates stadium.
After such a calamitous mistake, Ospina caused several problems over the course of the match. Every cross that came, the Colombian fluffed at it, sending panic waves across the defence. Arsenal fans have not been too happy with Petr Cech’s performances but after last night, the mere thought of Ospina replacing Cech will be worrisome.
Rob Holding’s misery continues
The 21-year-old defender’s performance against the Bundesliga side simply wasn’t good enough. The Englishman looked indecisive on the ball and out of place off it. He didn’t know whether to hold or push, press or mark. In fact, the only aspect which seemed certain was that he was definitely the weakest in the back three.
Holding was dispossessed several times and misplaced four passes in his own half. He made no blocks, interceptions or tackles, following which Wenger decided to take him out of the firing line, bringing on Sead Kolasinac instead.
Had it not been for Kolasinac, Holding’s poor display could’ve put Arsenal in quite a tough spot. This could bring up some concerns for Wenger since tougher Premier League fixtures are on the cards for the north London side. Depth is amiss in their defence and after last night, Holding will definitely drop a spot or two in the pecking order.