We like playing at Wembley, don’t we? Yesterday saw us win our 8th consecutive match at the stadium but it was a Wembley debutant who stole the show.
Before the reveal, it’s only fair to give a few mentions to players who came close to being my man of the match.
Coming closest was probably Granit Xhaka, despite having a part in Chelsea’s goal he played consistently well throughout the match, showing a whole range of passes to help us in whichever way it suited at the time before almost scoring from range and then providing the assist for Kolasinac’s goal.
Another player who made an impression in the season’s curtain raiser was Mohamed Elneny. Unlike for the most of this pre-season where he played as a central defender, he came into his more natural position of central midfield. Over the 90 minutes, Elneny worked tirelessly to win the ball back and helped keep the ball moving in midfield.
The man of the match for me, however, was Sead Kolasinac. Coming on to replace an injured Per Mertesacker after half an hour, Kolasinac slotted into the Arsenal back three very well. Having not started the game because Wenger “had a hesitation to starting him because of Wembley and the pressure” the boss admitted after the game that he was “outstanding”.
The remainder of the first half would see him look at settle in on the left side of defence but once he found his groove, he was almost unplayable.
As the first half came to a close we would see a glimpse of what was to come in the second half. With space to run into Kolasinac would stretch his legs and beat several players which got the Arsenal end of Wembley off their feet.
With us dominating the majority of the game Kolasinac didn’t have too much to do in terms of defending, however, he did stick a foot in when needed as well as showing great anticipation to beat his opponents to the ball.
What our new arrival will be remembered for before scoring was his surging runs forward. Combining with left wing back Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain there was an instance when he stormed down the left flank, never giving up on the ball, similar to last week against Benfica but unfortunately, it didn’t end in a goal.
The 24-year-old would then make his ever lasting impression on his Wembley debut. 82 minutes in, after Pedro was sent off for a poor challenge on Elneny, Kolasinac would change the course of the game. With Granit Xhaka floating a great ball deep into the box our new signing would be the one in the queue of players to get his head on the ball and level up the scores before running off towards the Arsenal fans in celebration, completely changing the mood of the game.
With it being questionable whether Mertesacker will be starting on Friday against Leicester it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing to see Kolasinac line up in the back three. After yesterday’s performance, not only Friday’s game but the season looks to be promising after the impression he made.