Arsenal triumphed for the first time in the 2011-12 English Premier League season. Wenger’s eleven beat lowly placed Bolton at home 3-0. Arsenal miraculously did not give up a goal and did not squander a lead. Mertesacker and Koscielny did not commit any major blunders and Sagna and Gibbs on the defensive flank held their respective corner.
Alex Song missed a few games at the end of last season and earned a red card easily in this season. Nonetheless, Song is improving as an Arsenal defensive mid-fielder. He is becoming not just a specialist defensive mid-fielder but one who can produce a telling through ball and as he demonstrated against Bolton, one who can finish. Song scored the third goal after Robin Van Persie had put Arsenal two up, the second being his 100 goal as a player in the Arsenal uniform.
Arteta continues to be the effective playmaker but the 20 year old Ramsey, captain of Wales needs to master the important art of finishing. Walcott is no longer an afterthought in the Arsenal line-up and is becoming the straw that stirs the drink in the offensive line. He is still not at the peak of his game. His decision-making still lacks maturity but when this galloping thorough-bred takes his game to another level, together with Van Persie, Gervinho and Arteta, Arsenal will have the necessary artillery to beat much of the opposition.
Arsenal is not out of the woods. Beating the lowly placed Bolton is not a test of their elite competence. We still do not know if the defensive safety-net is still appallingly porous. Vermaelen’s return will be a God-sent and it will be intriguing to see if Diaby’s return will add more creatively and pace to Arsenal’s mid-field.Manchester United Is Poked by Stoke City
Manchester United began the season with the big bang. The aggregation of Welbeck, Rooney, Nani, Young, Anderson and Cleverly simply blew away the opposition. Facing Stoke City at home, Manchester United was without Welbeck, Cleverly and Rooney in the starting line-up. Chicharito had replaced the recovering Welbeck but got injured at the outset of the game.
A soccer team is a compendium of delicate pieces and all the pieces have to be synchronized for the team to be firing on all cylinders. Berbatov, Owen and Fletcher filled in, perhaps ably, but there was no scintillating movement off and on the ball. Manchester fought toe to toe with Pulis’ unsleeping giants. One of the newly acquired giants, Crouch, scored the tying goal from a corner kick.
Manchester United will re-group but Ferguson must not forget the dazzling aggregation that abused early opponents. Re-assembling that aggregation will be essential if Manchester United is going to get to the mountain top in 2012.Manchester City Edges Everton
Playing every player virtually behind the ball made it extremely difficult for the Mancini millionaires playing for the Abu Dhabi billionaires to penetrate Everton’s defensive strategy. Mancini brought on Balotelli in the second half for the red hot Dzeko and his shot which took a slight deflection changed the game. Everton was forced to come out of their shell and City were able to put the game away.
Tevez has not been able to break into the team. Tevez has not endeared himself to managers at the club level or at the national level. For his career, they will have to find a new resting/nesting place for the Argentinean. His salary makes a January trade a formidable undertaking. In this age of playing in two leagues simultaneously clubs need a team with depth but it is cruel to have players of the caliber like Tevez not applying their skills. Hopefully, some club with a high roller and a manager willing to deal with Tevez’ volcanic eruptions will rise to the fore in the dead of winter.