I am still scratching my head and searching for answers as to why Arsenal would leave their most disappointing and disjointed performance this summer until when it matters most. This was a team who were hugely impressive in the Community Shield triumph which, although is not the best barometer for what will happen during the rest of the season, was a display that left many Gunners fans optimistic that Arsenal could avoid yet another slow start.
Adrian might have made the most saves by any Premier League goalkeeper during the opening weekend, but not only were they saves I would expect any good shot-stopper to produce, Arsenal did not do enough to break down West Ham. Conceding two extremely poor goals from a defensive perspective further compounded the resounding disappointment that emanated around the Emirates and on social media as the wrath of fans became instantly apparent. We should be able to excuse Petr Cech for having a bad day at the office on his debut, but if this was the goalkeeper that arrived to make the big saves that wins games for Arsenal, to say he got off to a less than auspicious start would be an understatement; the manner in which he was beaten by Zarate’s strike was alarming, but the big Czech is experienced enough to get over it and play a big role for the rest of the campaign.
Losing to the Hammers has already created the feeling that Arsenal cannot afford to slip up again during the first few weeks of the season when getting off to a strong start has become imperative. It has created even more pressure on Wenger and the team to get a result against Liverpool in a game that, I believe, Arsenal cannot afford to lose. Facing a fellow title rival on home soil, so soon into the new campaign, could prove to be a blessing if, and only if, Arsenal ensure that the opening day defeat was a minor blip.
The game appears ideal to be included on any to-win-and-both-teams-to-score coupon, given that both teams like to play on the front foot and are often prone to being exposed at the back. You would back Arsenal to outgun any side on their day if it came down to a straight shootout, especially if Alexis Sanchez regains full fitness in time to line up alongside Ox and Theo, who would be a much better fit out wide than Cazorla is. Having Alexis back may be the ideal boost for Olivier Giroud who looked completely out of sorts, but he certainly does not need Arsenal fans on his back criticising his every mistake right now. We will never see the best of the striker if we continue to put the guy down at every turn.
Arsenal certainly do not have the easiest starts to the season, but they could be left playing catch-up once again if they lose against a potential title contender.