Arsenal 0 Monaco 1: Five talking points as Alexis Sánchez makes bow
Arsenal 0 Monaco 1: Five talking points as the Gunners lose their first piece of available silverware this season
Chambers at centre-half
The £12m signing from Southampton looked comfortable and composed at centre-half before making way for Miguel at half-time. Chambers was willing to link up with the midfield with runs forward and made several important interceptions. Radamel Falcao’s goal from a set-piece will be a concern as Arsenal continue to struggle defensively from set pieces; Chambers and Koscielny left a big gap for Falcao to head in unmarked during his first start since January. In general did remarkably well having also impressed against Benfica yesterday.
New signings watch
The link up between Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy and Alexis Sánchez down the right was promising. Sánchez showed glimpses of his class with neat through balls and clever touches but he didn’t manage to force any true clear cut chances until he was deployed down the centre after the break. His work rate was phenomenal and his versatility will be key for Arsene Wenger this season. Debuchy loves a marauding run forward but then isn’t too urgent to rush back into defence if the Gunners lose possession. As the season progresses this could be an issue however his distribution and work with Chambers was decent. Looks like three smart summer buys.
Giroud off the pace
Arsenal’s main striker Olivier Giroud looked isolated in the first half and was subbed at the break. His link up play lacked sharpness and Wenger revealed in the media conference that he was not ready at all after three weeks rest. Last season. the France international was overworked and ran out of steam in the closing months. He looked rusty after a prolonged break after the World Cup and will need to train hard up until the opener against Crystal Palace on 16 August. Otherwise quadruple scorer yesterday Yaya Sanogo, Joel Campell or Sánchez could get the nod down the middle.
Centre midfield concerns
As every football fan knows, Arsenal are craving a new Patrick Vieira to stumble along and take control of Arsenal’s midfield. The Gunners started with Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey in midfield with only Arteta holding the fort. Unfortunately for the Arsenal faithful he struggled to impose on the centre battles and frequently gave the ball away in dangerous areas. Wenger has denied today that Wilshere will play deeper this season. So with ageing Arteta and Mathieu Flamini his only true options, Wenger might still need to whip up a dogged defensive player to let the plethora of attacking players to strut their stuff.
Community Shield starting decisions
Wenger has a host of decisions to mull over before the season opener against Manchester City in the Community Shield next Sunday. After this weekend’s composed performances, Chambers should start alongside Koscielny in the centre of defence but it’s further up the park that Wenger has a lot to think about. Can he leave out Sanogo after his four-goal spree? Also, Joel Campbell was a bright spark with Sánchez over the weekend. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain offered pace and penetration which is what Arsenal lacked for a majority of the match against Monaco. Without the German World Cup-winning contingent, Wenger will have less players to consider but he’ll need a much more sharp and creative Arsenal to turn up to take home the silverware.