Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal. Shit Sandwich

by & filed under Match report.

'This grass is a little bit short'

‘This grass is a little bit short’

In Pedro’s absence, I thought I’d struggle for content this week but that absolute shit show of a performance has provided me with plenty. So let’s get started…

Maybe it’s the fact we’re 7 games in and yet to produce a half decent performance, maybe it’s the fact our club captain is our worst player, or maybe it’s the fact I’ve drunk 1/2 bottle of wine and am penning this post on the train ride home but this season is already turning out to be a rum prospect.

We can say goodbye to the league and champions league now. No way, not a chance. We might put together some sort of a run in either of the domestic cups and hell we might even win one of them. But then what are we left with? Not much progress that’s what.

The most difficult thing about being an Arsenal fan – and there are many difficult things – is that gnawing, pervading sense of ‘what if’.  Always 2 or 3 signings away from a title challenge, always a poor refereeing performance away from the result we deserve, always an injury away from glory.

At least when you support a team like Crystal Palace you can manage your expectations; you know your place in the football hierarchy and you learn to accept the highs and lows. But when you know your club has the resources and ability to compete with Bayern Munich, and yet can’t build a squad to sustain any type of domestic or European challenge what hope is there?

The performance last night was embarrassing. There is no shame in losing away at Dortmund. But to play so abysmally, to have a team so demotivated, to have a captain and midfield anchor who fails to provide cover and to see the same mistakes repeated again and again and again, should not be tolerated from a man who earns £8 million a year.

I’m failing to find a positive from that performance other than the fact that Hector Bellerin didn’t get mauled. The fact he was one of our better players is testament to how woeful we were.

Jack Wilshere, who has played well recently, resurrected his World Cup form. Ramsey resurrected his form from 3 years ago when he was nearly sold to Fulham. Alexis was shocking, Podolski pointless, SZCZ put in epic levels of Almunia and I’m struggling to think of things to say about Mesut Özil. This guy is a World Cup superstar playing like a Sunday league player. Would any other manager have tolerated his woeful performances and tried to play him into form when you have Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rosicky more than capable of filling in?

The fact is all these players are fabulous players. I wouldn’t sell any one of them. There is one man who motivates them, who gives them tactical instruction and who changes things when plan A isn’t working.

That man is the manager.

Everyone knows Le Grove is not pro Arsene Wenger. But anyone who can, in all earnestness, continue to look on at these performances, these farcical transfer windows and injury crises and still not find fault with the guy who yields all the power at the club is not being ignorant, they’re being disingenuous.

Sure we don’t know everything that goes on behind the scenes. You can try and blame the fans for creating a negative atmosphere (anyone who says that has clearly never watched live football). You can produce statistics to show that Danny Welbeck has fewer ‘turnovers’ than Radmael Falcao. And you can continue to say that ‘you said we should’ve signed Ashley Young therefore you can’t criticise the manager’ but the fact is, the ONLY way this is going to get better is when Arsene leaves.

He’s been a great servant of the club, the best, but he is not the guy to lead it to future glory.

We may recover. We will put together a good run in the league and we will qualify from our group in the champions league, there will be better days ahead this season. But I do not hold out hope of reaching the promised land again until something significant changes at the top.

@aldo_doel over and out.

p.s. As this was ostensibly a match report, I better do some kind of player ratings…

Szcz – Almunia

Bellerin – Still alive

Kos – Dental Floss

Mertesacker – Training Cone

Arteta – Every Michael Bay film ever made condensed int0 70 minutes

Wilshere – Get up

Ramsey – As bad as Richard Dawkins on twitter

Ozil – Who is this and what have you done with the real Mesut?

Alexis – John Bishop

Welbeck – A touch of the Chamakhs

Dortmund preview

by & filed under News Review.

Good morning all. So tonight we face a real test away in Dortmund. Pedro will be there the lucky git, it looks like such an exciting ground to watch football in. Amazing atmosphere, amazing fans and apparently you can get a chateaubriand with a glass of verve clicquot at half time for 3 euros. Yet another damning indictment of the disgraceful way in which us hard working fans are proper mugged off #FAout

In many ways Dortmund and Arsenal are kindred spirits. The Germans have lost two of their best players, Gotze and Lewandoski, to their bitterest rivals and their other best player, Reus, is injured. They also look to play attractive, exciting football, except at the moment they are slightly better at it than us.

We got one of our best results (though not performances) when we beat them in Dortmund last year. Despite this, and the absence of the three aforementioned names, this will be a very stern test. However there was an indication against City that we are starting to find our form. We had the champions pinned back for long periods on Saturday. If we can come out of the blocks like that tonight and get an early goal, it might make the bitter pill of conceding from an own goal in the last minute a little easier to swallow.

The only concern is that our back line are dropping like flies and so blooding ballerina (ipad speak for Bellerin), if it comes to that, is going to be a huge risk but we covered that yesterday.

Lots of interesting comments about the change in formation, my understanding is that 4-1-4-1 gives us two box-to-box midfielders at the expense of a traditional number 10. Maybe why Ozil is struggling but also why Arsene is more confident of not getting spanked in big away games.

The other interesting tactical discussion from Saturday is zonal marking. I have to admit I always balk when an absolute clown like Andy Townsend berates the system but I am starting to wonder if it is right for us. We don’t have the height or the discipline to make it work effectively, so you wonder if it is time we went back to man marking. That being said I seem to recall a stat floating round that we concede very goals from set pieces.

A bigger bug bear for me and everyone I sit near in the stadium is our own set pieces, particularly our amazing awfulness to clear the first man on a corner. I wonder if arsenal do any set piece practice in training because it seems like such a wasted opportunity.

Anyway that’s all I’ve got for you today. Fingers crossed for a good performance and result tonight and keep an eye out for Pedro, he’ll be the one with the shit Marco Reus haircut.

You can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel x

Ozil, Debuchy, Sneezing Pandas and Shrodinger’s Cat

by & filed under News Review.

Happy Monday!! as Bob Geldof once crooned. Alex here, I forgot to mention yesterday that im filling in for Pete for the week as he jet sets off to Dortmund. But fear not we have plenty to talk about – more fall out from the City game, Man United being the greatest team on the planet, Dortmund and the Champions League, the Scottish Referendum then Villa on Saturday. What an action packed week!

Let’s start with Ozil. The consensus seems to be that he is just not cutting the mustard at the moment. I was certainly harsh on him yesterday, if that accounts for anything. It was mooted somewhere that a swap deal for Reus next summer would be an attractive option. Well yeah sure who wouldn’t want Marco Reus, but lets not write off Ozil just yet. He is a world class player – he’s proved that in big games for Real Madrid and Germany. He’s recognised as world class by the likes of Ronaldo, Mourinho and Arsene. He’s clearly unfit, low on confidence or suffering from the world’s longest comedown (too much fun in Ibiza I’d say).

Whatever it is, lets not completely write him off just yet. The boys got talent; he just needs to find his mojo. Whether he finds it out on the left is another story. Arshavin, Ramsey, Wilshere have all struggled in their left wing apprenticeships. What’s the answer? Christ knows, maybe abolish that position and have two right wingers. Or abolish all wingers and play five people in the hole with Welbeck up top. That’s basically what we do now anyway. Problem solver. Your welcome.

In other news the last time I checked twitter Debuchy is out for three months. Absolute shocker, who could have possibly foreseen that Arsenal would have a full back injury crisis? Not me, and neither it appears the chap who gets paid £8 mill a year to build out a squad that can compete in four competitions. I mean really, it’s not like we’re used to injury prone fullbacks (I’ve just broken the sarcasm detector).

So who can fill in at right back against Dortmund tomorrow night? The way I see it we have a few options – Chambers, Flamini, Bellerin, Bould, Lord Lucan, Chi Chi the sneezing panda or some ironical twist on Shrodinger’s cat where we simultaneously play not a right back in this universe and create an alternative universe in which 1970 Carlos Alberto fills in – that’s how it works right?

In all seriousness though, there is lots of crowing about how Arsenal have always looked to bring youth through and now is a great opportunity for Bellerin and Hayden. I’ll admit I have seen very little of either and i’m sure they have bags of potential but blooding youth in a Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund is like asking 10 year old Macaulay Caulkin to take on Hamlet as his first acting gig, chances are he’ll have a stinker.  It all reeks of bad planning once again and seems ridiculous that a month into the season we are already only one injury away from a threat level of “Severe”. But remember: “This is the best of all possible worlds” (repeat and fade).

Final thought from me, there has been discussion about our new formation – the 4-1-4-1 to replace the 4-2-3-1 we used last year. Can someone explain the difference to me because I do not have the foggiest? Has it disrupted our attacking prowess? Has it made us more resolute at the back? Will it ever click?!!!

Answers on a postcard please. Until tomorrow @aldo_doel signing out x