Game still in progress, 5 minutes left, Arsenal down 2-0 against Chelsea in a League Cup match. Several touches, all passes accurate thus far…
Ok just finished putting my 4 year old to bed: back to the Tavern -we’re still reacting to Arsene Wenger installing Park Chu-Young today for a 9 minute+ appearance in Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to Chelsea in the 4th round of the League Cup. While Arsenal is knocked out of this tournament, Park is still on the roster for their FA Cup ties and for Premiership games, but is not listed in the Champions League roster.
Some quick notes – we will definitely update with more info later – this is Park’s first appearance for the North London side since early 2012. Surprised with the selection – conventional reports were that Park was on the outs with Arsenal for some time now. One could argue the substitution was made in the face of an inevitable defeat in what many consider a 2nd fiddle tournament compared to the FA Cup. However, this wasn’t a game that Arsene was playing to lose. For one, it was at home to Emirates Stadium with Chelsea – Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Secondly, his other substitutions seemed textbook – Ozil replaced Ryo Miyaichi in the 61st minute, Giroud for Bendtner in the 67th minute. So with the 3rd and final substitution, Arsenal 2 goals behind, Park came on for Aaron Ramsey in the 81st minute.
How’d he do? By my count (and I have to go back to see a replay) Park was 100% accurate on his touches. He was deceptively fast, though you wouldn’t have known it when he first entered the game. He linked up well, seemed to be decently positioned. His teammates weren’t afraid to pass to him. But with 9 minutes, unfortunately no opportunities emerged for Park to score. Nevertheless, he played cooly / calmly / competently and he seemed to at least hold his own for the few minutes out there against Chelsea’s first team squad. Interestingly, in replacing Ramsey, it appeared Park absorbed Ramsey’s midfield position rather than Bendtner’s earlier forward role. Side note, Park supporters know that Mourinho’s actually familiar with the ex South Korean captain, having faced his Celta Vigo side several times as manager for Real Madrid last season. While Park didn’t score against Real Madrid, he came extremely close in each of the matches he played against them – in one game he hit the crossbar on a header, and had another header almost get by Iker Castillas, with only a brilliant split-second reaction from Castillas preventing the ball from going to the back of the net.
Jae jumping in here. Just watched the 2nd half of Arsenal vs Chelsea to see Park. Ummm, he was . . . okay. I’m afraid I can’t quite share some of the excitement and enthusiasm going around the Tavern. While it’s certainly positive to see Park on the pitch, and to hear a (small) compliment about Park from Wenger, his performance doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence (in me) that he’ll be able to push on from this cameo into FA Cup matches and league matches. His passes were accurate, but they were almost all sideways or backwards into lots of space. The thing that actually stuck out to me the most was a defensive thing. I can’t remember which Chelsea player it was, but they had the ball, and Park was the closest Arsenal player to him, and he just kind of stood there. No pressure, no urgency, nothing. I realize that at 2-0 down and only 5 minutes or so left that there isn’t any real reason to do it, but Park hasn’t played in a long time, and I would think that in a short cameo appearance he should show a ton of effort and energy and DESIRE. And I just didn’t see it. It reminds me of something that Paco Herrera, his coach at Celta Vigo said, and that was that he would ask Park for more. More everything. More effort, more movement, more energy, and he never got it. Park’s performance tonight reflected that. It just keeps me wondering, does Park have the necessary motivation to succeed in Europe at this point?
Want to know Wenger’s thoughts post match on the decision to play Park?
He was selected because he did well in training recently. Wigan were interested and I would have done it but in the end it wasn’t realised because we didn’t find an agreement with Wigan.
That was from Arsenal’s official website from the post match interview…which answers another hanging noodle that the Tavern was awaiting news on – whatever happened with the Wigan emergency loan deal? Closure I guess, straight from Arsene.
Again, these were quick impressions I got from today’s game- I’ll have more to talk about on the Tavern soon. Believe it or not, I literally got home from work, turned on the TV, and saw from the corner of my eye a #30 jersey walk up to the bottom of the screen…
UPDATE PART 3: check this out, a video composite of his touches. It’s a bit grainy, still you can make out his best performance starting at 1:28 – Wilshere passes to Park and in traffic with Chelsea players converging, Park passes to Carzola in the nick of time (which sounded like Emirates Stadium cheered in appreciation of his deft maneuver) – followed by a quick run up the middle. Take a look:
To be fair, the video doesn’t show Park’s entire time out in pitch. Some of what Jae was referring to isn’t shown. From my vantage point, I was wondering why Park spend some valuable time standing around in the area – no opportunity to get released as Chelsea was parking the bus in those moments. Could he have done more – or was that the positioning he was told explicitly to maintain? It’s debatable.
His 100% passing accuracy rate was right on. Turns out it was 8 out of 8 passes. Glass half empty: not a lot of passes. Glass half full: he was only out there for 9 minutes for buddha’s sake. and 100% is still 100%.
Overall I thought his movement was fairly decent – enough to be in a dangerous position around 2:14 in the video. And like I said earlier – he linked up well with his teammates – and contributed to the team maintaining possession and spending the majority of the time in Chelsea’s half while Park was on the pitch. I don’t know, call me biased, but he looks like a player that could contribute for Arsenal. Will we see him on the bench next Saturday against Liverpool? Odds are he will be over Bendtner. Start the countdown.