How would Arsenal look back at the month of August? by SE
With Arsenal’s draw against Leicester bringing an end to the month of August, we take a look back at how Wenger’s men fared in the first month of their 2014/15 campaign.
FA Community Shield
On the 10th of August, last season’s FA Cup winners took to Wembley, to take on the defending Premier League champions in the annual curtain raiser. Arsenal were slow off the blocks, but did make staunch impact on the game through Sanchez and Ramsey. Manchester City were caught napping on many an occasion, as the North Londoners enjoyed a slick start to their campaign, with a 3-0 plundering over the Etihad outfit.
It was a statement of intent and sign of things to come from the Gunners, who had recruited astutely; their new signings – Sanchez, Chambers and Debuchy – started off brightly, thereby leading to the early excitement for the Gunners’ faithful, at the onset of a new season.
Champions League qualification
For the second successive season, Arsenal were drawn against a Turkish outfit, in the Champions League playoff tie, with the winner progressing to the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition.
Besiktas took on Arsenal in the first leg of the tie, at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, and threatened to land a huge blow on the Gunners’ ambitions of making it to the group stages of the competition for the 17th year running. They had a plethora of chances to pull ahead on aggregate, ahead of the away leg at the Emirates.
The game, however, finished 0-0, with both sides profligate in front of goal, and not burying the chances that came their way. Arsenal were dealt with a huge blow, as Ramsey was red-carded; Arteta injured his ankle, raising serious question marks over the North Londoners’ chances of winning the second leg at home, which was the only way to progress through.
The second leg was chock-a-block with nerves and anxiety for everyone gathered at the Emirates, with the away side creating a good number of chances, as they just needed a score draw to go through. But Sanchez scored for Arsenal on the stroke of half-time, and albeit Arsenal were living off the edge, in the second period, Besiktas’ lack of quality meant that Arsenal went through 1-0 on aggregate.
Arsenal’s Champions League history, over the years, meant that they were in pot 1, with a relatively easier draw to look forward to. However, having drawn with Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht in the group stages, Wenger’s men will have to do really well to reach the R-16.
The win over Manchester City in the FA Community Shield had raised the expectations on Arsenal and Wenger to start off smoothly against a manager-less Crystal Palace, on the opening weekend. However, it was a difficult game for the Gunners, who had to sweat blood to win 2-1, with Ramsey’s injury-time winner giving Arsenal all three points. It was the slightest of warning for the North Londoners, that nothing was academic at this level.
The second game of the Premier League season saw Arsenal face a stiff away test against Everton, who had obliterated the Gunners 3-0 last April. And, the script was very nearly the same, as the Toffees went 2-0 up in the first half, and Arsenal weren’t creating enough chances to threaten Everton’s goal. However, Arsenal threw the kitchen sink in the last 10 minutes, as they played on the nerves of Everton to draw level and earn a very well deserved away point, a crucial one at that. 4 points from two games, and Arsenal were doing very well, up until now.
With the international break lurking in the horizon, Arsenal faced an away trip to Leicester, who have been the brightest of the three newly promoted sides. So it was never going to be a walk in the park for the Gunners. Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead in the 20th minute of the game, but Ulloa’s header in the 22nd minute deprived Arsenal from pocketing all three points, thereby failing to go past Man City and Liverpool in the embryonic Barclays Premier League table. These two points dropped against the Foxes would be of huge regret to Wenger, who, up until then, had done so well to keep the Arsenal machine operating in pristine condition.
Arsenal will be content with what they have managed in the first month of the 2014/15 campaign. But those two points dropped against Leicester will be of concern for Arsenal, who face a hectic schedule once the international break culminates.
Arsenal’s monthly rating for August: 7.5/10