Sorry, I’m playing a bit of catch-up or should I say ‘Ozyakup’ when it comes to Arsenal’s last 3 games. You see, I’ve been in Stan Kroenke country as opposed to Kroenke state, so I’ve not seen the Colorado Rapids unfortunately. Neither have I seen David Beckham’s LA Galaxy. Not the team, not the merchandise. Indeed, the lack of column inches and shop shelf space devoted to soccer in the America is astounding. I have no doubt the world’s greatest game will end up dominating there too, eventually. Of course, the influx of football-crazy Hispanics will ensure that, no matter what the status quo try to do to avert the oncoming tide of soccer they will end up looking wet and bedraggled if they try to halt progress . . . like a certain English-based Danish king did years ago. A certain King Canute or Cnut, as some prefer. It’s been pointed out by Ian McEwan in ‘Atonement’ how similar Cnut is to another four-letter word, but I’m not a Booker Prize nominee so I’d better stick to Arsenal’s three-letter word or name: Ryo.
Miyaichi’s first game in English football came against Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup, while I was away in the land of anti-soccer media Cnuts, so it’s thanks to Arsenal Player on the official website that I’ve been able to pore over his every touch.
Ryo had to be patient and wait until the 72nd minute to make his entrance. Arsenal were winning 2-1 at the time, so it was a reasonably good time to come on. Replacing the largely ineffective South Korean striker Ju Young Park also meant Ryo didn’t have such a tough act to follow.
Ryo showed he meant business with a foray deep into Shrewsbury territory within 3 minutes. Three opponents tried to close him down and rather than take them all on, Ryo sensibly passed to Yossi Benayoun. Another simple pass followed shortly afterwards, as Ryo quickly seemed to settle into the game.
Then Ryo’s debut took a turn for the worst. Miyaichi was guilty of a sudden loss of concentration as he let a pass squirm under his feet and into touch. Ryo’s next run was blocked, but luckily the ball fell to a fellow substitute in the shape of Gokhan Ozyakup.
Ryo’s reaction to these minor setbacks was mature, despite his relative youth. The 18-year-old played a couple of simple passes successfully and ended the game with his first successful tackle in an Arsenal shirt, albeit with the aid of the impressive Francis Coquelin.
All in all, not a bad night’s work for Ryo Miyaichi. Let’s hope he gets more of a chance to shine again Bolton in the next round.
So what about Ryo’s team-mates? How did they do?
GK: Fabianski 4 – hapless as ever, how he allowed the ball to hit the post early on, I’ll never know. Should have narrowed the angle for the Shrews’ goal. Couldn’t dominate his imaginary one-yard box, let alone his six-yard box, as evidenced when he failed to deal with a cross he should have easily caught.
RB: Jenkinson 5 – some good passing and crossing but some poor defending at times. Can we blame zonal marking for his failure to move to a man after a setpiece was lifted towards the backpost? No. Zonal doesn’t mean you have to be static.
CB: Djourou 5 – His JD initial stands for ‘Jittery Defender’ right now. I still have faith our captain for the night will put the jitters behind him eventually.
CB: Miquel 6 – quietly effective and read the game well. A great prospect.
LB: Gibbs 6 – a torrid start turned into a goal and a reasonable game.
RW: Oxlade-Chamberlain 8 – the son of Mark was awesome, need I say more? He’s not better than Theo Walcott at crossing, on this evidence, but his decision-making is better. He’s got football in his blood and it shows.
CM: Coquelin 8 – his passing has come on a bundle. He’s always been good at breaking play up, but he’s got more to his game now.
CM: Frimpong 6 – a raging bull in a china shop comes to mind when I see Frimpong going through his paces. But I love his never-say-die attitude. He’s a real trier, but this wasn’t one of his nights.
LM: Benayoun 6 – largely disappointing, despite his goal. He just didn’t contribute that much.
ST: Park 5 – blew hot and cold, mostly cold. He’s a bit of an enigma, as I’m not sure how he’s going to fit into the team. Maybe he just needs time to adjust.
ST: Chamakh 7 – looked like he might score again! He’s much more confident now and worked hard.
SUBS: Miyaichi 6 – did reasonably well on his debut.
Ozyakup 7 – set up a goal and settled quickly.
Aneke N/A – not enough time to make an impact.