Brief Thoughts on the Red Bulls 1:0 Arsenal

First of all, I’m neither surprised nor really disappointed. I didn’t expect a result going in. 1) we only started about half of our first team, none of whom (except maybe Jack, who has a lot to prove this campaign, and who made some really nice tackles and one majestic run that, had he pulled the trigger earlier, would have resulted in an equaliser) were overly exerting themselves; 1 1/2) a great deal of this stems from the fact that this is the first match since the FA Cup Final — the true start of the exhibition season, so the incentive to avoid injury is high; 1 3/4) see 1 1/2, whereas for the Red Bulls — while also just an exhibition, they’re in midseason form.

2) Also for the Red Bulls, the incentive to play just a bit harder was far greater than for the Gunners; they’re playing in front of a sell-out home crowd against a top European side, and the accolades that come with a result as well as perhaps the increased interest in their MLS campaign is a much greater incentive than for a just-training Arsenal side just trying to reestablish a rhythm and start to get into regular-season form. I expect better against Benfica and Monaco, and even better in the Community Shield.

3) Then there’s the Henry factor; even the Arsenal fans (myself included) wouldn’t have minded seeing him score. For sentimental reasons, even, part of me hoped he would. All hail the king.

4) The second half was always going to be more important than the first. Cazorla, Rosicky, Sczcesny, Gibbs, Arteta — all known quantities. Zelalem, Diaby, Akpom, Coquelin, far less so, and at least with Zelalem, Akpom, Toral — these all could be significant parts of the future.

5) Seeing a fit Diaby was great — been a while, and if he can stay fit, could be a huge addition as a sub. Had some great runs, great crosses, and played extremely well I thought.

6) Zelalem — given his youth and inexperience, I was mostly impressed. He looked a little lost in transition a few times, but showed why he’s so highly-regarded. I hope to the gods he chooses the USMNT (who need that kind of up-and-coming European-trained and tested talent) over a stacked Germany side. Who, well… we all know what happened a few weeks ago.

7) Akpom — a lot of talent, but looked completely lost out there. I know the boss said Sanogo had a minor injury that the team didn’t want to risk injuring further (right call), but Akpom didn’t do much of anything to convince me he’s the next big thing in the striker role. At least a year away from cracking a role even as a sub, I’d say, except maybe in cup ties, and those only with a comfortable lead and late. Needs a lot of work.

8) The second/second-and-a-half team kept a clean sheet in the second half, which bodes well. Yes, I know by then the Red Bulls had subbed many of their first team squad, but still, not conceding another and putting together several nice runs on the break bodes well.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased. Today was about getting reps in and seeing what we have further down the roster. Yes, a result would have been nice, but just truly starting training now that we’re bringing in our transfers (and getting more, one may hope) and getting our World Cup players back, this is nothing to be disappointed by.

Anyway, just some brief thoughts.

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~ by Benji on 27 July 2014.

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