South African Arsenal Fans

Rollercoaster Opener

Isaac Lundall Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Congratulations to Yasien Jaffer who won the first gameweek in our FPL mini-league, winning 5 ZARs and bragging rights for the week. His squad was imperious, beating second placed Ilhaam Geduld by 18 points. The secrets to his success were a prolific back and front line and his captaining of Romelu Lukaku. The complete standings for the gameweek are as follows:

1Yasien Jaffer101
2Ilhaam Geduld83
3Blyth Bester82
4Unam Bakumeni77
5Sachan Minnaar75
6Craig Goveia74
6Storm Johnson74
8James Lundall71
8Kevin van Staden71
8Cedric De Wet71
11Wessley Van Der Nest69
12Manny Pereira68
13Jason Kleinsmith66
14Grant Andrews65
14Romello Naidoo65
14Miles Froelicher65
17Ato Paintsil64
18Thabo Peyi63
19Kent Rousseau62
19Kariem Hornby62
21Barry Scharneck61
22Paul Petersen60
22Errol Rudman60
22Timothy George60
25Isma'eel Essa59
25Aleszandro Almano59
27Isaac Lundall58
27Andre Schwartz58
29William Souter56
30Alex Anderton55
30Nathan Johnson55
30N K Ncube55
30Admire Zinamo55
34Kimon Sitas54
35Travors James53
36Dean George52
36Keith Mukhram52
38Shamiel Soni51
38Adrian Laloo51
38Matt Van Heusden51
41Andre Cunningham48
41Chris Whyman48
43Simbulele Hobana47
44Kevin Day46
45Sean Webster44
46Donovan Faria38
47Dale Forbes36
48Kent Rousseau33
49Irfaan Allie Jaffer28

Hopefully not too many gooners have heart conditions because Friday night's opener against Leicester City was a rollercoaster of emotion. The team got off to the perfect start with Alex Lacazette heading Elneny's speculative cross to make it one nil to the Arsenal. It was his second touch. His first was the kick-off.

Most observers expected the Arsenal team to go on to rout Leicester, and the Arsenal team did dominate possession, but defensive disorganisation on the Arsenal's part and Leicester's direct counterattacking play and clinical finishing soon saw them equalise and then go on to take the lead. Danny Welbeck's equaliser just before half time was therefore a relief at the end of quite a frustrating half for gooners around the world.

Gooner's renewed half-time optimism would be curbed soon after the break, though, with Leicester making it 3-2. As the clock wound down, the Arsenal was looking down the barrel of an opening day defeat until Arsene Wenger grasped the nettle by bringing on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. The substitutions were inspired, as Ramsey equalised before Giroud headed in the winner.

It's pleasing to note the positive performances from new signings, Lacazette and Sead Kolašinac. Besides his brilliantly taken goal, Lacazette also came close by striking the post, and it was apparent why he was as prolific as he was in France. He also showed great industry in the mould of Alexis Sanchez, which prevented Leicester from ever settling in possession. Sead Kolašinac dominated in defensive areas, was strong in the tackle, and made purposeful attacking runs and dribbles. Getting into attacking positions allowed him to assist Danny Wellbeck's equalising goal. Other positives include the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's wing back performance in both an attacking and a defensive sense. The midfield engine room of Xhaka, Elneny, and Oezil also kept the Arsenal's passing game at a high cadence, with one touch football being the order of the day at times. Despite the defensive frailties, Skodran Mustafi should be back against Stoke, with Koscielny returning to the team in the following game, so things should improve in this area also.

All things considered, there is reason for optimism this season. Let's hope that the lads pack their adamantium shin pads for the trip to Mordor on Saturday and that everyone returns to Ashburton Grove in one piece, and with a win in their back pockets.

© 2017, Isaac Lundall