Stupid. Silly. Dumb. Naive. Just some of the words that some up this Arsenal team today. Let's sum up the situation: Arsenal had a slim chance of the title still and a decent chance of finishing second. The title was very unlikely yes, but there was a slim chance if they won today. So how the hell can they be so casual and careless in the game when they're in a situation where they need to win all their games? Does Djourou actually give a monkeys? He's played like a complete idiot today. Don't get me wrong, I generally rate him and have sung his praises a few times this season; he's a good defender. But probably just not good enough to win the league. For the first goal, he was asleep. He didn't follow Jones and Jones didn't even have to power above him to head it home, he just easily strolled in and bundled it in with his stomach. Easy. Peesy. Lemon Squeezy. Embarrassing.
When you go into a game at Stoke, you know what they're all about. How they're going to attack, how they're going to defend, you know how they're going to go about trying to stop you. So why did Wenger pick the same old 4-5-1 formation with minimal height in the team? Why play tippy tappy football and prove the critics almost right. This sort of situation is where the stereotypes about Arsenal come from. They're a much better team than they showed today. We passed the ball around Stoke's area, they flood it with red shirts and force us out wide. So predictable. And deep down, you know that the move is going to come to nothing.
All week in training they should be practising how to attack and defend against Stoke. Practise crossing and heading, practice attacking and defending long throws and corners. Play one of Bendtner or Chamakh from the start and actually go four four fucking two. There's no point in Ramsey playing today. He was excellent last week, scored the winner but today's a completely different game. Make the tough decision and leave him out and play a different formation, instead of being so bloody predictable. It frustrates me because it's embarrassing. Same old, same old all the time. Which moves me neatly onto the other end of the pitch...
Our defending against Stoke is even more of a joke than attacking. Arsenal were comfortable throughout the first half, Stoke put no pressure on us and yet we concede a silly freekick and the marking is a complete disgrace. I'd love to know what they've been doing in training this week, because they should have been practicing defending set pieces, particularly seen as that's our main weakness anyway. But especially when we're playing a team who's main strength is set pieces. They should get Arshavin and Walcott out wide on the training pitch. They can hoof ball into the box while Bendtner, Chamakh and van Persie attack the ball and Djourou, Koscielny, Song, Szczesny etc defend it. Get the attackers to mess them about and they can practice dealing with it. It doesn't take a brilliant coach to work out you should be doing this going into a game at Stoke.
Also, they were the makers of their own problems, as they often are. Giving the ball away casually and stupidly for the second goal and inviting the shot on. Silly, time and time again. Season after season it's the same old things. Stoke literally did nothing in the first half up to the goals to cause Arsenal problems and yet they still manage to go in at half time 2-0 down. What the fudge?
We're a better team than Man Utd, in my opinion, but I can't see that happening to them. It's just embarrassing how naive we still are and how silly mistakes and old weaknesses just don't stop and aren't sorted out. What will they work on in training over the next few weeks and in pre season, defending set pieces? I hope so, but it wouldn't surprise if they hardly do.
Then just as Arsenal start playing well once they've made the subs and put Stoke under considerable pressure, they score. 2-1. Ten minutes plus stoppage time left. Plenty of time to put pressure on and create a couple or so chances. But no, lets go staright back on the defensive and clear the ball like a disabled old woman and go 3-1 down staright away. Awful from Djourou again and awful from the other defenders who simply didn't react. They had a great opportunity to get something out of the game and have a good 10-15 minutes of piling the pressure on Stoke with four strikers on the pitch and two creative midfielders. I think we'd probably have scored again if we hadn't gone 3-1 down. But it doesn't matter because we stupidly did. Same old Arsenal, stupid at times.
This is probably the defeat of the season which means least, in the league. But it still winds me right up and I thought we'd sorted this out at Arsenal. Silly mistakes and set piece disasters, but no, it continues and it probably will next season. It's probably our worst performance of the season away from home and what worries me worst is the naivety in which we lost today. It was just too predictable and too easy. Yet last season we went to Stoke and played our hearts out. there was grit, determination, desire, quality. As there was at Blackburn this season when we faced a similar threat. And at Birmingham and Wolves. But today we didn't. So frustrating.