The first game of the season is never the proper time to judge a team, especially if the starting lineup is in so much flux like Arsenal's is. But that doesn't mean we can't make judgments about the performance against Sunderland. Here are five observations from today's game.
Where is Lady Luck? - The Gunners had plenty of chances, the most notable of which was Olivier Giroud missing in Fernando Torres-like fashion. Santi Cazorla had a couple shots deflected by Simon Mignolet and Gervinho practically lived inside the box. Arsenal just had the most difficult time being creative in the final third, but Sunderland parked the bus and defended admirably.
The Invisible Man - The departure of Robin van Persie left the door open for Lukas Podolski to be the main striker option. But today, Podolski was nowhere to be seen. He often looked lost and got in the way of a Cazorla shot in the first half and was subbed in the second half for Giroud. But again, this starting lineup is still new to each other and this was Poldolski's first game in the English Premier League. There is no need to panic. His play will only get better after today.
Santi Claus - If today was any indication, Cazorla will be delivering gifts for his teammates, as well as Arsenal fans. His performance earned some comparisons to Cesc Fabregas and that will make Gooners extremely happy. When he touches the ball there is always the threat of a pretty pass or a powerful shot from just outside the box. He worked hard today and he definitely impressed.
Finally Healthy - After playing in only five games last season, Abou Diaby started today and looked fantastic. He created a presence in midfield, and when he began an attack, it felt as if something good was going to happen. Arsenal could use a healthy Diaby, as he's a decent option in midfield but he desperately needs to stay fit.
Deja Vu - Arsenal began last season with a scoreless draw against Newcastle United. The only difference this year is that Gervinho didn't get sent off and suspended for decking Joey Barton. Speaking of Gervinho, he did some good things today but he picked up where he left off last season. He desperately needs to learn to look up instead of running directly into defenders when he makes his run. His decisions need to be much better inside the box as well.
Arsenal fans may be frustrated by today's result but they must keep in mind that this is the first game of the season with several players who have never played with each other. The Gunners played well today, and we should be positive for the future.