Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal: turns out it can get worse
Not really an unfamiliar sight is it? Arsene looking on in desperation, as we crumble yet again.
It’s gotten to the stage where I wouldn’t even be adverse to him leaving. I’ve been one of his most staunch defenders lately, and even I’m questioning his methods.
In attack, we were on the whole back to our usual fluid style of the middle of last season. Sadly, we were also back to our shaky old selves in defence. It frustrates the life out of me that we can’t combine the fluidity in attack with the strength at the back. Against Dortmund we were excellent at the back yet struggled going forward, and it was the opposite today. Why can we not have both? It’s as if this Arsenal side don’t have the mental capacity to concentrate on more than one aspect of football in one game. We’re either good in defence or good in attack – at the moment we can’t put the two together.
But why not? It shouldn’t have to be one or the other. If we had both we’d be a much better team for it. But it seems like to play our flowing best in attack, we have to be shaky in defence, and vice versa. Maybe we need to mentally and physically separate the defence from the rest of the team. Let them do their job, let the attack do theirs. Or maybe the concentration has to be drilled into them on the training ground. At the moment I can’t really see that happening.
That’s not to say there weren’t positives – there were, of course. In midfield and attack we were better than we’ve been for a long time. But as I say, if our defence plays like a bunch of spastics there’s not much the rest of the players can do about it. Still, we were very sharp going forward and the team was gelling well in attack.
The goals were also very refreshing; three quite different types of goal, which shows we can vary our play. Gervinho’s was a very simple goal; defence splitting pass (kudos to Alex Song) and a neat finish. Arteta’s was a lovely change of pace in attack; a lovely pass to get Ramsey in a good position (cheers again Alex), and the speed and intensity of the move was a joy to watch as Ramsey cut it back for Arteta to fire home. And the third goal, at last a headed goal and at last a goal from Chamakh; a lovely cross from van Persie and a perfect header from Chamakh to his credit.
And now, the ugly part. The goals we shipped. There were four of them, just thought I’d remind you. Anyway, the first. Fairly poor defensively, Santos and Koscielny playing Yakubu onside, and Mertesacker not really doing himself any favours either with some slow play. From then on there was nothing we could do about it; a lovely finish from Yakubu, giving Szczesny no chance. The second saw a lack of organisation and leadership from a free kick, which saw the ball unluckily ricochet off Song and past the helpless Szczesny. It was similar in the third goal; nobody attacking the ball, and then bad luck on the second ball, this time with Yakubu blatantly offside. Then with the fourth goal, it was a needless sliding tackle from Djourou that saw Olsson break clean through, and Koscielny was a bit unlucky with the ricochet.
We could have been a lot more clinical in attack too actually. Gervinho was wasteful on two particular occasions in the first half, while Chamakh, van Persie and Mertesacker all missed good chances late on in the second half. Mertesacker’s was the most guilt-edged of them all; six yards out, an almost open goal, and he headed over. Of all people, you’d expect Mertesacker to be able to get his head over the ball. However, it was a bit of a pathetic leap, and he nodded over.
We probably should have had a penalty in the last minute, Walcott being thrown off balance by Paul Robinson sliding from underneath him, but there were no protests seeing as we had to concentrate on the ball which was still in play. Regardless of whether we appealed, the referee should have still given it, it was as clear as day from where I was sitting and I can’t see how the referee didn’t see either. But we’re in a run of poor form and sometimes that’s how it goes.
Shrewsbury on Tuesday offers a chance to renew the optimism that we had a few days ago. The likes of Ryo and Oxlade-Chamberlain should play, and it’ll be exciting for the fans to witness two players who’ll be on the fringes of the first team in the next couple of seasons, while knocking on the door no doubt.
Anyway, that’s it from me. Let’s hope we can turn things around.