FC Koln 0 Arsenal 4
By Mustafa Goldstein
Eyewitness account from the Rhein Energie Stadion
A surreal and entertaining encounter between Lukas Podolski’s former and present employers produced four goals and an interesting insight into what the new season might hold for the Gunners. Surreal, because the appearance of Van Persie for Podolski brought forth a peculiar mixture of chants including not only the usual ‘Robin Van Persie’ song we know and love but also, to the same tune, ‘F*** Off Van Persie’ combined with a small handful of unconvincing boo’s whenever Arsenal’s saviour of 2011/12 was on the ball.
By the time you read this, he may well be gone, but on the 12th of August in the Rhein Energie Stadion he was still an Arsenal player who might yet still have played a crucial part in a championship winning season of 2012/13. So wasn’t making him feel unloved a tad un-diplomatic if not downright daft?
Not least because this was arguably the strongest Arsenal squad I’d seen for several years. Even with Eddie ‘Jenkinson’ McGoldrick playing the second half, the addition of Poldi (his German nickname), Giroud and Cazorla made Arsenal look like an outfit which – were a certain striker to stay on – might yet challenge for some serious silverware.
Although RVP’s body language was that of someone about to leave the party – the boo-boys certainly weren’t doing the Gaffer any favours had he been entertaining the following option, ‘sod the money, I’ll keep RVP for the season in this strengthened squad whether he likes it or not, win the league and/or the Champions League, thereby convincing said Dutchman [and everyone else] that Arsenal are again the real deal. A gamble, yes, but the sort of action Wenger needs to take if he’s going to leave the club in the same, magnificent manner in which he joined.
RVPgate aside, the sight of Arshavin in an Arsenal shirt was something I thought I’d never see again and, in truth, it wouldn’t bother me much if this [really] was the last time as, even against such poor opposition, he continued to perform like a square peg in a round hole that thinks it’s a triangle.
The same could not be said of Alexandre Song who, apart from some well-dodgy Eighties style, ultra-tight shorts that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Alan Partridge [when he was a small boy], was bossing the mid-field and upping his game in response to the new signings. But had the kit people really run out of Men’s shorts? Or was this some sort of new, non-heterosexual look Mr. Song is cultivating – his attention to detail, including some dainty, white leggings did cause one to wonder. Still, if it takes painfully tight shorts to make him play like that, long may his nads be constricted!
The fact that 1.FC.Köln allowed Diaby, Gervinho and Chamack to look almost world class in the second half was a sobering one, reminding us that – although the Rhein Energie Stadion’s facilities were outstanding, Poldi’s old club were anything but. Incidentally, the stadium was a lovely Highbury shaped and sized ground with all mod-cons and a neat little corner of terracing for away fans. My kind of ground. The fact that the match ticket also included the price of local travel to and from the game was also impressive. Can’t see that ever happening in London.
The new signings? Giroud found himself in several excellent goal scoring positions - opportunities he promptly squandered. Yet his positioning and the fact that his missed chances were at least on target, showed promise. Although not outstanding - hardly surprising as he’d only been with us for ten minutes - Cazorla seemed to fit well into the Arsenal style of play and Herr. Podolski’s brace capped a competent performance on his emotional fairwell to the club where he’d become a folk hero. How Arsenal were awarded a penalty for his first goal is anyone’s guess, but the German despatched it like… well, a German and the second, after good work from Gibbsy (?) too was clinical.
Wally Walcott looked refreshingly incisive on the right wing and the Ox, an awful mistake in which he set up a one-on-one with Manone for 1.FC.Köln aside, looked his usual sprightly self. It was one of a handful of squandered chances for the home side. In another, Manone showed us why Szczesny is Arsenal’s number one by spilling a training ground shot which, had the crossbar not come to his rescue, would have drooped off his paws, over his head and into the net in a manner befitting an old Charlie Brown cartoon.
When Szczesny did appear in the second half, his woodwork was rattled by 1.FC.Köln’s best chance, a thunderous shot that hit the underside of the bar and bounced off the line and out for an easy catch.
Despite one of three Kanu-esque Gervinho runs down the left flank resulting in a fourth for the Gunners, the second half line-up of RVP, Arschavin, Chamack, Diaby and Jenkinson was not nearly as effective – or maybe keen is a better word - in the final third as that provided by Messrs. Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla and Walcott.
Yet a clean sheet and Vermaelen’s splendid headed opener for, what is effectively now Steve Bould’s defence, allowed us all to sing Bouldy’s old song and look forward to some markedly stronger defensive performances from the back-four in the coming season, with or without hair.
14th August 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
Poles Apart 21:38pm 14th Aug 2012
Fabianski? Are you on drugs mate? - Post No. 27751
ice 21:39pm 14th Aug 2012
change fabianski to sczesney please, fabianski didn't feature. zb - Post No. 27752
MRMROD 21:42pm 14th Aug 2012
Its Cazorla; CAZORLA!! A bit of a pointless article. It was just a friendly but even so, I believe you were a tad harsh on Giroud who looked pretty sharp and (i feel) was only prevented from scoring by good goalkeeping not by squandering chances. Although I wouldnt be too unhappy if we the team that started the first half v Cologne started on Saturday. - Post No. 27753
SF Gooner 21:43pm 14th Aug 2012
Who the hell is Corlanza, and why only spend one line on him? He was excellent in his first run out for the club. - Post No. 27754
Website Admin 21:52pm 14th Aug 2012
Oops! A couple of errors crept into this article. Our new Spaniard's name obviously hasn't been added to this Gooner's dictionary yet and perhaps he needs to go to Specsavers to tell our Polish keepers apart. Errors corrected and thanks for pointing them out. - Post No. 27756
Theo's Bikini-Line 22:01pm 14th Aug 2012
"The same could not be said of Alexandre Song who, apart from some well-dodgy Eighties style, ultra-tight shorts that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Alan Partridge [when he was a small boy], was bossing the mid-field and upping his game in response to the new signings." I had to stop reading the article at that point because I couldn't believe you were actually being serious!! Bloody hell, even the analysts on Arsenal tv commented that Song was constantly giving either the ball or fouls away, and they NEVER say anything even mildly critical of any Arsenal player!! I know that sport - and football in particular - is a game of opinions but seriously, how could you write that comment? There really are none so blind that will not see!! - Post No. 27757
Gary 22:15pm 14th Aug 2012
The Song comments are the comments of a mad man.Song didnt look interested and was giving the ball away as he usually does.The sooner he sods off to Spain the better.To prove this article is a joke article(Short of articles Ed?)he claimed Diaby Gervinho and Chamakh(not Chamack!!!)looked almost world class - Post No. 27759
Century 22:59pm 14th Aug 2012
I luv arsenal with my blood****wallcot should go _ ben arfa should come - Post No. 27761
maguiresbridge gooner 23:16pm 14th Aug 2012
Mustafa you've obviously got very exited about this match and it's good to see our new signings integrating and getting on the score sheet but at the end of the day it was only a friendly and one against second or third rate opposition at that so if we couldn't come away with a win here we'd be in trouble lets hope they can do it when it matters.As for the boo boys pathetic i've said all i'm going to say on that over on the ed's piece on the game. - Post No. 27764
Graham 89 7:13am 15th Aug 2012
Wake up Gooners.We are a business.We spent over £40m this summer.Did anyone really beleve we wouldnt recoup that £40m?RVP was always going, the only sticking point was the fee.Song will go to Barca and Theo will join Liverpool.So the books will be balanced.£40m out £40m in.The only reason we made a profit last year was through the sales of Cesc and Nasri last summer.If it wasnt for the money coming in through transfers we would run at a lose.So anyone who thinks the new signings are being brought to improve the squad are wrong they are being brought in to replace the outgoings.And if we really want to improve the team why havent we signed any defenders. - Post No. 27769
Der Projekt ist Kaput 7:20am 15th Aug 2012
I thought Macklyntoc, Charlee Niclass and Willee Yung showed that Austrian outfit right up. - Post No. 27770
Mike Bassett 13:32pm 15th Aug 2012
We missed out on giving Nasri a tough time before he left last year. What's wrong with booing a prick who doesn't want to be at the club and is surely going to be at United come September 1st? - Post No. 27784
Ron 13:38pm 15th Aug 2012
Song couldnt 'boss' his own nads never mind another midfield!I do so hope that this lump Song is going to Barca (quite why is anybodys guess). Hes awful. He coulndt pass water, couldnt outpace a tortoise and is basically a petty fouling, cheap and snide bodychecking and penalty/needless free kick conceding journeyman liabilty.Hes always been that! - Post No. 27786
maguiresbridge gooner 20:26pm 15th Aug 2012
Mick Bassett why did we miss out on giving nasri a tough time before he left? we all knew he was going we all knew he wasn't going to sign (apart from the manager) was the reason we missed out because unlike RVP he hadn't the balls to speak out and tell it like it was while still under contract ? instead waiting till he was safely contracted to another club. - Post No. 27794
Bard 20:37pm 15th Aug 2012
Hold on there, it was only a friendly ! As I write this seems like RVP's gone for around £24m; can you believe it? Fergie's lost his marbles. The real issue is what we will do with the money. If it goes into the bank to balance the outgoings then you can be sure we're back to square one but if they buy a couple of decent players with it, the squad might actually look half decent. We need a decent DM and a right back at the very least. Or is my optimism misplaced? - Post No. 27795
GaryFootscrayAustralia 6:50am 16th Aug 2012
Der Projekt ist Kaput - very sarky, but very funny all the same. The discussion on the current major topic has or will be debated til it's bled dry by us lot. All I want to say is 1980-81: Brady, Stapleton. 2011-2012: Fabregas, Van Persie. Plus ca change. as our manager and half the first team might say. The only difference is somehow I don't think Vermaelen will be showing Van Persie a pair of championship medals in the coming years to say "look what you coulda won", the way the O'Leary could to Stapleton... - Post No. 27803
Andy IOW 7:45am 16th Aug 2012
Thank god its not just me that thinks Song is Average at best. Two great passes last season doesn't make a great player...sell him !!! - Post No. 27804
15th December 2013
Online Ed: Arsenal on wrong end of nine goal thriller