Can you remember what Theo Walcott did for the first 80 minutes of last night’s match?
No, neither can I, except for the fact that he was conspicuous in his absence once again, seemingly taking a step back from the progress he made towards the end of last season.
But think about this: Milan 0 Arsenal 2; Liverpool 4 Arsenal 2; FC Twente 0 Arsenal 2. They all have something in common –and not just the Champions League.
Theo Walcott breaks free on the right, gets beyond the last man and squares the ball to give Manu Adebayor the simplest of tap-ins. We’ll see that many more times over the coming season if Arsene Wenger wises up.
Playing on the left, he was starved of the ball and is too often less effective on that side of the field. The problem for Theo is that when Samir Nasri is fit, he will probably take that right midfield berth and with RVP and Adebayor the first choice strikers, where does that leave Theo?
If Nasri really can play across the midfield, Arsene Wenger should take note of the fact that Theo’s use of pace on the right deems him wasted in any other position apart from upfront. Nasri and Vela should be competing for the left midfield berth in Tomas Rosicky’s absence.
Elsewhere last night, there is certainly plenty of improvement to be made. Johann Djourou had to play catch-up all too often. He is young for a centre back, for sure, but his positional sense exposes the defence a lot of the time...
Even though Twente play in a far less competitive league than the Premiership, they had a lot more experience than our central midfield and yet Aaron Ramsey and Denilson did well enough.
Denilson may have been a bit reckless on occasions and his tackling leaves a lot to be desired, but he never let his energy levels drop.
It was certainly a baptism for Ramsey and a lot to ask of a 17 year old on his debut with less than 30 games for Cardiff City under his belt. But the Welshman was calm and collected and showed some signs of the potential Wenger has seen in him.
The lack of a playmaker in Cesc Fabregas’s absence was all to obvious. Nasri and Rosicky could fulfil that role, I suspect, but what hope for guile without some grit?
The glaring need for a midfield enforcer, a giant to protect the creative kids and make sure we don’t get bullied, was all too apparent. Until William Gallas bundled in Arsenal’s fortuitous opener, Arsenal’s backs were against the wall.
No wonder Wenger said afterwards: "They (Twente) imposed a very physical game on us, with man marking all over the pitch. They did that with a lot of belief and spirit. We were a very young team and we did not lose our nerve, did not panic.”
On a positive note, Manuel Almunia may not be the world class goalkeeper we need at a club like Arsenal, but he is showing great signs of improvement and composure. His block when Marko Arnautovic got free and later when the striker found himself with nothing to aim at, gave some reassurance for the season ahead.
We will need to play much better against West Brom on Saturday, though – and let’s hope Wenger finds some time now to bring in fresh faces before the domestic season begins.