Chambers' Poise Impresses Again

It was a gritty result for Arsenal on a difficult night in Istanbul. Olivier Giroud struggled, but Calum Chambers again looked assured on a higher stage...

Last Updated: 20/08/14 at 08:48 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Departing Fletcher deserves to be treasured

17 comments

With Darren Fletcher reported to have been granted a free transfer from Manchester United, Adam Bate looks back at his career at Old Trafford.

Oh Danny Boy, We Almost Forgot You...

19 comments

It's been a month since Danny Welbeck started a PL game and, sorry Daniel, we have barely noticed. It's difficult to see him forcing his way back into this team...

All Articles

It was a night that always threatened to be ghastly for Arsenal, the type of long European trip that smacks of the clichéd banana skin so early in the season. The pitch was bobbly and untrustworthy, causing visible issues with control. The atmosphere was humid and muggy and the crowd vociferous, although banned by UEFA from displaying 'Turkey's largest ever handmade banner' (yes, really).

There was the obvious danger of former Arsenal transfer target Demba Ba in Besiktas' side, too. "Sometimes when you come in a team where there are a lot of big names, the name plays more than the statistics," was Ba's slightly pointed assessment of his time at Chelsea, evidently keen to make a point after leaving England. This was a night for Arsenal to get a result, any result, to take back to the Emirates.

And a result they got. Mikel Arteta suffered an ankle injury, Aaron Ramsey was dismissed and a fluidity in attack was often lacking, but a balanced tie with the home leg to come should surely ensure that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal enjoy their 17th consecutive participation in the Champions League proper. It's a job only half-completed but, on reflection, the glass should be half-full.

The end result will be more enjoyable than the means, one suspects. Ba was dangerous throughout, a performance embodied by his speculative attempt within two seconds of the start that rattled the crossbar. Ba's aerial presence was a constant threat to Laurent Koscielny, and he forced Wojciech Szczesny into a sprawling save from a left-footed volley, Olcay Sahan guilty of spurning Besiktas' other glorious opportunity. Without overly disrespecting the Turkish Super Lig, it seems a shame that Europe's 12th-ranked league is the home to Ba, a 29-year-old striker still with so much to give.

Disappointingly for Arsenal, Ba's excellence was not matched by Olivier Giroud, who struggled after being recalled to the side following Yaya Sanogo's failed Saturday evening audition. Giroud failed to have a single shot on target, lost the ball three more times than any other player on the pitch and completed just 15 passes at a rate of 52%. These are the matches after which Arsenal fans urge their manager to sign another forward - there is a frustrating inconsistency to their principal central striker.

In Giroud's defence, it was another night on which he too often left isolated. Wenger's preferred 4-3-3 formation gave Alexis Sanchez licence to maraud down the right (and he did enjoy a good deal of success against Ramon Motta), but without a support striker Giroud is too often expected to both fashion and finish his own chances. Even when he was found by an impudent Ramsey chipped pass, a fresh air shot was the only result. It epitomised his evening's work.

There is a strong suspicion that a 4-2-3-1 formation would provide Giroud with greater assistance from a No. 10, but Wenger persists with the 4-3-3 in order to give both Jack Wilshere and Ramsey licence to act as box-to-box midfielders. There must surely be an ever more vociferous question of whether Wilshere's form is deserving of such special treatment, and it's difficult to see how Wenger fits Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott into this formation, when fit. Something has to give.

However, after such a result purely negative conclusions would be unreasonable, and the huge positive to take was the performance of Calum Chambers, who followed up his impressive league debut with an assured display on his European bow. Reminiscent of when Wenger picked 22-year-old Kolo Toure alongside Sol Campbell at the start of the 2003/4 season, there is a sense that Chambers looks instantly at home in the role.

Whilst Chambers' tender age is so consistently preached that it is impossible to forget, the difficulty of playing in a defensive position at such an age is often overlooked. Whilst there is a degree of 'just go out and play' for wingers or forwards of a similar age, for defenders that carefree abandon clearly isn't an option. A maturity, concentration and positional discipline is expected that is impossible to fake. On initial viewing, Chambers has all three.

This was not a performance that will be remembered in the distant future, but Arsenal did enough. After 12 consecutive victories in Champions League qualifiers there was to be no lucky 13, but a gutsy draw will do just fine. 'Wenger praises Arsenal's character,' will be the headlines in your Wednesday papers.

Daniel Storey - Follow him on Twitter

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

O

ne of the conclusions from this list is that Man City should never buy a striker in January - good luck Wilfried Bony....

Savinator
F365's Top Ten Worst January Panic Buys

I

was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Fly1ngh1gh
Cup defeat shames Mourinho

G

reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

cheshire-gooner
16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Three Bears consortium criticise Rangers board over Mike Ashley loan

The Three Bears consortium have criticised Rangers' decision to shun their offer in favour of Sports Direct's £10m loan.

Transfer news: Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko happy at the club

Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko is happy to stay at the club, despite rumours he is a target for Arsenal.

Transfer news: Samuel Eto'o leaves Everton for Sampdoria on free transfer

Samuel Eto'o has completed his free transfer from Everton to Sampdoria on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Mail Box

The Problem With FA Cup Shocks...

...is that the draw for the next round is pretty shocking. Blackburn v Stoke, anybody? We also have mails on LVG and ManUnited, who drew plenty under Fergie...

You're Man Utd, For Crying Out Loud!

Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company