The harbingers for a better season took a familiarly backward turn. All that bright attacking spark count for little if we continue to leak goals.
We gave up three goals against Legia Warsaw in quick succession. One of those came from a similar sort of set up practised by Blackburn last season. Obviously Legia did its homework, rolling tape on the match.
The second goal:
The tactics of crowding out Lukasz Fabianski - whether you like it or not, is perfectly legal and it provided dividends for the local side. In all too familiar scene, the Polish goalkeeper playing against his former club was unable to break his way through the thicket of players tripping over Vermaelen and an all around useless flailing of arms ensues- the ball finds itself in goal. Blackburn all over again.
There were a few things wrong once again - Fabianski's lack of assertion. Arsenal again made the mistake of protecting him and not the set piece takers. The lack of confidence in the Polish goalie is glaring. But Fabianski reminds one of a armadillo trying to venture out only to be poked back. He manages to make his 6' 2" frame look small with his lack of decisiveness and trepidation.
The other was his reaction to the trajectory of the ball - he does create space but then goes straight into the thicket of players as the ball drifts further away towards the far post. If he had held his ground or made his move more to the middle - he would have been in a better position to deal with the ball.
On a more technical note, Fabianski lacks the necessary leg strength. His goal kicks barely cross the half line. It shows up in set pieces when he rarely gets above ground to gather the ball or punch away even when given a clear path. He is an above average shot stopper - there is a clear comfort zone when dealing with shots closer to his body. But he is not ready and the Premiership is no league to build confidence - send him out on loan. I am sure he will become better with age and experience but at this point the present situation does him and the club no good.
The third goal:
The second goal was the result of a defensive breakdown as the Arsenal defense is caught out of position when the ball is played short ball from corner. A disorganized scramble ensues as the ball is played into the Arsenal box- look at Laurent Koscielny getting caught without marking his player. Vermaelen and Tomas Rosicky are unable to clear the ball. There was little that Fabianski could have done to save that goal.
The fourth goal:
Arsenal's fightback was very impressive but again on cruise control they give a goal away - Koscielny should have realized that Sagna had played the Legia players onside and lost a moment looking at the linesman. Instead there was no one to challenge Artur Jedrzejczyk whose field day continued.
The fifth goal:
On the counter, Legia press forward and the cross comes from the left. There are five Arsenal players in the box and no Legia player. Instead of letting it go through Kieran Gibbs sticks his foot out reflexively converting the cross into an assist for Maciej Iwanski to score the fifth goal.
Except for the first goal, the others were attributable to a host of defensive errors. Arsenal were skillful in attack but they were also lucky that they found a club who played a high line which could be exploited for their errors. What one finds disturbing with all concessions made for the pre-season and player rust is that once again the match resurrected the familiar themes of a lack of concentration and awareness.