Saturday, 20 November 2010

Arsenal of old

Today's travesty reminded me of the Arsenal of 2008. It reminded me particularly of the Man Utd game we won 2-1. We looked great going forward but looked so vulnerable defensively and the score could have been anything that day. Also, I remember we had a few chances to make the score 3-0 in that game, like we had a couple today, and then Man Utd pulled one back for a nervy finish.

I'm not saying we were as good today as were in that game but the Arsenal of today seemed to lack maturity and a bit of know- how, just like the team did that day against Man Utd, and a couple of weeks earlier against tottenham. My first thought going into the second half was "Right, first and foremost, our aim is making sure we don't concede." I didn't want us to go all out defence and get 10 men behind the ball, but I wanted us to attack and play with caution. Don't gamble too many men forward, make sure we don't make any silly mistakes and keep the ball; don't give it away like we did a few times when trying to rush the attack and play a fancy through ball that's never going to work- keep the thing- there's no rush, we're 2-0/ 2-1 up.

Maybe last Sunday's game at Everton affected the attitude today as Arsenal went a bit too defensive in the last 10- 15 minutes of that game and invited Everton on to them, very un- Arsenal like and Wenger mentioned this after the game and will have talked to the players about it, so they probably thought "let's keep attacking and not invite tottenham onto us." Which is fair enough but we end up being like the Arsenal of old on their 1st goal by getting caught on the counter attack when 2-0 up, which is just silly. I thought we'd grown out of this over the last couple of seasons, we've seemed smarter in these situations lately.

I can't understand why Djourou didn't play today. He was very good at Everton last week whereas Koscielny wasn't the last time he played against Newcastle, yet he walked right back into the team. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I only watched the game until around their 2nd goal, but until I stopped it to get away from it I thought Koscielny did reasonable yet we concede three goals, which leads on to my next point...

I often seem to say after an Arsenal defeat that we were unlucky, as often this is how it seems or is. Today was the same. Another thing I often think is "How on Earth dd we lose this game?" Today was the same. Why is it that most of the time when we lose it seems an unlucky defeat? Are we just unlucky? Like today, in the build up to their second goal it was never a free-kick in a million years, Song's challenge on Modric was a fair one, just one of strength. And then was it actually a penalty? Players put their hands up all the time in this situation, its human instinct to protect your face, I think its harsh to give a penalty there. Also, we didn't actually play bad and didn't look under threat in the game at all while I watched it. So how did we end up letting a two goal lead slip at home? They scored when we fell asleep a bit on a counter attack- which as I've said shouldn't happen when you're 2-0 up, particularly in this sort of game. But apart from that, we didn't look under threat. A long range Modric shot went over and they didn't really threaten apart from that. Van der Vaart, Bale, Lennon, Modric and Pavlyuchenko didn't look troublesome, and most of them were anonymous. Yet after regaining comfort and control of the game after they pulled it back, which i was impressed with a sit showed maturity and sense but then we are wrongly punished on their second goal and are unlucky with refereeing decisions twice in a minute. Unlucky rather than bad? Probably.

I can't comment on the rest of the game as I went to take my dogs out for a walk as I was fed up of puttting myself through the tension and nerves. I hear Koscielny missed an empty net which points to another of our failings, often unable to kill teams off. We were almost guilty of it at Everton last week with a couple of missed chances at 2-0, one of which a sitter. So often we get 1 or 2 goals up and start being fancy or over- elaborate in front of goal, failing to kill teams off. Chamakh could have used his strength on the stroke of half time by continuing his run to have a great chance of putting us 3-0 up. What a position that would have put us in. It would have been game as good as over. We were guilty of this in the 4-4 draw with tottenham and against West Ham last season at Upton Park, just examples off the top of my head. Too often this had happened in recent years. It's holding us back, as well as our lack of maturity, strategy and, at times, ability defensively when Vermaelen isn't there. We need to improve our killer instinct, particularly against teams more likely to punish you.

Overall, it's hard to criticise a player, or the performance but it's also hard to defend them as this defeat hurts more than any other and it's humiliating to lose at home to your local rivals who we never lose at home to, after being 2-0 up at half time and conceding a late winner. It's just so hard to take. If this was Football Manager, I wouldn't save the game, but unfortunately it isn't. Hopefully, our good away form can save our rubbish home form again next week against Aston Villa.

A consolation is that we're still in a good position, table wise, as Chelsea lost so we're only 2 points off 1st and 2nd. I've barely thought of the table since today's game, it's pride that's the bigger issue after this sort of defeat unfortunately.

Life's never dull as a Gooner, that isn't always a good thing.

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