Arsenal lose pace at the top | Alex Song guilty of Sunday league laziness

by & filed under News Review.

Nothing quite like shaking off the Christmas hangover with tough game against a side that are for me, up there with Stoke when it comes to footballing ability. I’ve never been a fan of the post Christmas game, generally because the players are as out of sorts as the fans. The show put on by the players for the first 60 minutes yesterday reeked of too many turkey sandwiches. It also highlighted how fragile our squad is outside the starting eleven.

Wenger took out Ramsey and Theo and replaced them with Benayoun and Rosicky. Both very similar players, both come with similar ages and injury records, both come without that all important ingredient of pace.

Wolves were the most daring in the opening minutes. Jarvis made Djourou look an idiot when the Swiss centre back slid in and missed a Wolves penetrating ball, Jarvis couldn’t match his good run with a dangerous ball, Mertesacker doing well to block out the cross.

It didn’t take long for Jarvis to get the better of JD again, this time beating him one on one, his cross failed to find someone in a gold shirt. Rosicky picked it up, played in Benayoun, he powered forward, picking out Gervinho who pirouetted with the ball, waltzed into the box, clumsily taking it past the keeper and slotting home for an early goal. He found the net, but if a goal ever had cobwebs on it, it was that one!

Robin was set up by Gervinho shortly afterwards, his first time shot was dragged wildly wide of the post. The Dutchman had another good chance after he broke free of the Wolves back line, his quick shot was smartly tipped round the post by Hennesey,

We weren’t quite at our normal tempo. Wolves were playing a relatively highline, realising we had little to offer pace wise. The players were flat and the half had a feeling of 2008. Lots of intricate passing without any direct penetration.

We were punished for our lack lustre performance when Wolves had a huge slice of luck. We failed to clear a corner further than the edge of the box, Hunt fired a shot at our goal, his shot deflected neatly into the path of Fletcher, where he was on hand to head past our keeper. To us, he looked offside, however after viewing the goal after the game, it appears Song and his laissez faire attitude to the game kept him well and truly on. What a muppet…

The second half didn’t start with the urgency I’d hoped for. Gervinho had the best chance when he found himself in possession 6 yards out, however, like an 8 year old just learning the game, he couldn’t fish the ball out from his under his feet. It was the story of his game after the goal, his control was terrible, his passing was a long way from being respectable and he was holding up our attacking play. Now, before anyone who has bought an Opta Stats pack tells me his pass completion rate was 967%, think outside a computer game and the different types of pass you can have. There is such thing as a bad completed pass.

We had an abundance of freekick practice. Robin and Arteta were rotating responsibility between them without much luck. Robin had the best attempts, forcing two fine saves form Hennesey. The first from the left was tipped over and the second was powered low from the right and was pushed wide.

Wenger changed things up by bringing on Arshavin and Ramsey. The Welshman nearly made an impact straight away, capitalising on some poor control from Wolves, he cut the ball back to Rosicky whose placed shot was blazed wide. At this level, you really should be hitting the target when the ball is served to you on a gold leaf dinner plate.

Things started to get spicy when Millijas was sent off for a two footed lunge. Tackles flew in and temper flared all over the pitch. I think the worst refereeing decision of the match was when a cross was blatantly handled in the box, the lino had a view clear as day and chose to ignore what he’d clearly seen. It really is disappointing that lineman are so afraid to make decisions in this day in age. Maybe it’s the pay issue. Either way it ruins that game as calls into question the point of them if all they are there for is offside rules. I’m sure a computer would do a better job.

It was amusing that the ref was vigilant enough to see a small handball by Vermaelen 5 mins later. He even had the audacity to book him for it!

Chamakh came on and contributed towards busting open the head of Robin Van Persie. Well played son. I still have no idea why Wenger has to make the same substitution mistakes 50 times before he learns. Outside that, the game slipped away from us and we dropped two vital points.

Not good enough.

Now, I can sit there and praise our fighting spirit, but lets put this in perspective, we just played Wolves. We can’t commend fighting spirit against a team we are vastly superior to. We should be praising our superior technical ability and the way we carved them open time and time again. Sadly, we’re disappointingly looking at a missed opportunity to over take Chelsea as the rightful owners of 4th. We also lost points on Spurs.

I think there are a few things to address here. Firstly, going forward, really we should only be playing one of Benayoun or Rosicky. The two of them in the team at the same time doesn’t really work for me. They both have the same attributes and both have the same deficiencies. Our team works best with pace, we can’t afford two slow players in the side. Next time we rest Theo, let’s play AOC. He has all the pace Theo does with a little more brain.

I think it’s worth pointing out that the most dangerous attacking player on the pitch today outside Robin was Vermaelen. That’s great in the sense that he’s a superb player, but shoddy because that means certain players aren’t taking responsibility for their share of the goals.

It wouldn’t be a Premier League match without mentioning the ref. Atwell had a shocker out there and totally lost control of the game as far as I’m concerned. He was missing handballs and struggling with time wasting. Things like that don’t help, but don’t use that as too much of an excuse, everyone is in the same boat with refs these days.

Alex Song needs to be spoken to about his approach to clearing his lines. Walking your way out of the box is not acceptable at Sunday league level, let alone when you’re a professional in the fastest league in the world. He’s had some good game this year, but his game has started to get an element of big time about it of late. Stick to the basics Alex.

Bench options need to be addressed in January. Today it was great bringing on Aaron Ramsey, but when the first team aren’t being rested, we don’t really have players to call on that are game changers. Andrey should be that man, but he’s not now. Chamakh has never been that man and he never will be. If Park was any good, I’m pretty sure we’d be seeing him a little more.

No one fears our bench. There must be players we can bring in who can help us out there. We’re not heading into January with it all to lose like we were last year. We have it all to play for. We can’t afford to trip up against the smaller sides. We need this victory juggernaut to pick up pace over this friendly period of fixtures so when we do start playing the better teams again, we have great confidence and we’re right in the mixer. The only thing that’s going to do that for me is an injection of quality into the squad.

On the upswing of things, we do have a team of battlers out there. We were knocking on door for 30 minutes but couldn’t find a way through. If we could call upon a player like Podolski or even Thierry in a game like yesterday, we’d have that ability. Wenger has to be bold in January and be bold at the soonest opportunity. You can’t hang on for Chamakh and Andrey, they’ll only disappoint.

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Next up is QPR. A game similar to the one we just played. We need to up our performance and play the first 60 minutes like we played the last 30 minutes. We need to find our ruthless streak and make sure we don’t lose touch of Spurs at the top.

Have a great day Grovers, see you in the comments!

481 Responses to “Arsenal lose pace at the top | Alex Song guilty of Sunday league laziness”

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  1. goonermart

    Joppa Road says:
    December 28, 2011 at 20:54

    Wouldn’t it be great if interviewers for Sky and BBC didn’t have to tip toe around managers and players as if they were some kind of royaly.

    e.g. “Wenger, you talk about superb mental strength and determination, yet in the really big games over the last six years you have lost nine out of ten of them”…..”What exactly are you talking about you fckwit?”


    HaHa Quality

  2. kwik fit

    Thierry Henry “The problem with playing in New York was I knew I’d never win the Premier League again. Signing for Arsenal confirms that.”

  3. kwik fit

    Saturday goonermart? Tuesday ? No our fan’s are not capable of booing they seem to go to the home matches to ‘experience’ the Arsenal . A football club they have seen on TV and quite like. They go to the match as you would to a good Musical. To take in the experience. If the experience is not that good a well never mind. I am only going to away game’s in future real Arsenal men and women with Arsenal on their heart.

    Oh remember the Highbury Highs?

  4. goonermart

    Yeah tuesday, doh, I blame christmas! Cheers.
    Yeah I know what you mean about the emirates experience, for sure we lost something when we moved from Highbury.

  5. kwik fit

    Too many season tickets are being sold to people who want to make a few bob. They are greedy people who sell their tickets on the black market. The tickets are sold to half hearted people who want a good day out. These unscrupulous people who do not go to at least 75% of matches should be black listed. Thing’s must change . The theatre
    of nightmare’s has supporters who live and die the club. We must learn and learn fast cos well you know why. Arsene your the man make it happen!

  6. goonermart

    Yeah fuck me, can remember been in the North Bank, the singing would start right at the back and quickly spread forward until the whole stand would be singing. Truly awsome.

  7. goonermart

    Yeah like the people who sit there talking about work through the whole game, wish they would just fuck off. Thats one problem with being in London I guess.

  8. kwik fit

    gonnermart every away ground I go to have real home supporters even though we dislike them. Our home support are out for a day at the Zoo and an enjoyable day with their loved ones . Sorry what do we expect from our players when the know the Home support is so nonchalant.

  9. goonermart

    Our away supporters are class, more often than not out singing other home support, even at scum lane. Agree the fan – player relationship has to work both ways, sometimes the fans need to do their bit too.
    Also if the ticket prices keep going up it will only get worse.

  10. Lurch LeRouge

    the Henry ‘offer’ doesn’t bode well for prince poldi in this window, unless we’re seeing the departure of Shava…

  11. Satz

    Arsene is a top coach but he does have this”i dont care what you believe” attitude.I still want him at the Emirates but if he does not bring in some top quality players i have doubts on us finishing in the top 4.We deserve our 5th position in the stand.Even more annoying is to see Spuds at 3rd.No matter what we feel,they have deserved their position and have slowly invested in some quality players and i wont be surprised if they finish above us.

    Why is Arsenal always opting for the cheaper options is beyond me?Alright excuses for the last 6 years aside,we do have enough money in the bank to spend.And if we aint bold enough to shell out some cash i really don’t see for what are we saving the money for?
    We dont spend.Always going for cheaper options(loan) or someone under 10 million.We have our tickets price raised.Are we getting enough quality play on the pitch to accommodate for the pricing.I would say “NO”.Had we raised our prices,and see players like Goetze,Reus,Podolski,Hazard,Hummels,Cavani,Hamsik,Vertonghen i am sure the fans would not be way too worried about the pricing.
    We are a decent team and with the current team i really do not see us finishing in the top 4.

  12. goonerboy

    The Mata deal was soley down to money- nothing else- he was simply offered what we would not pay by Chelsea. Its the same old story at Arsenal- a big squad of over paid moderate players- and a few good ones we are not paying enough to keep.
    The lack of backs unbalances the whole side- and I would like to see us buy one now- because of the 4,3 are out with serious injuries with a fair chance of recovery taking several more months and the 4th(Gibbs) is very injury prone.
    As for Song-he cant maintain his performance level for every game- and when he is off he tends to get caught out of position like he did against Wolves. Do we not need another holding midfielder- not to replace Song-but to share the responsibilities.(and always did?)
    Our most pressing need in January is for a striker- a real striker- and to offload Arshavin and Chamakh who are demonstrably ineffective- and I dont mean for the odd game- but for over 12 months.
    We lack punch- because the Board and Wenger sold our best most creative attacking players and did not replace them- although those he did buy are better than many expected.

    What is the chance of Arsenal buying anyone in the January transfer window?…not very high.

  13. Bade

    Bartly looked solid yesterday

    Why not to get him back? he had enough of loan spell with Rangers, he can play at CB or RB, so he can be useful if Arsene isn’t thinking about adding a defender

  14. gnarleygeorge9


    After Arsenal scored, they once again went into cruise control & we all know that usually spells the opo getting back into the game. Against Wolves it was ground hog day for Arsenal fans.

    Bloody piss poor effort that. No excuses for that effort against a side that will be playing in the Championship next season.

  15. kwik fit

    Not so much awful gg9 but wasteful and complacent . With a little bit of luck it could have been 4 or 5.
    I didn’t think I would have ever said this but we did miss Theo.
    Yossi is a 30 min man at best.

  16. rob green

    i know his head was elsewhere but he wasn’t very good in his last season with us. We are only getting him for two months,

    We need more than henry to catch up with the spuds they are getting a good squad together and they will buy in Jan as well

  17. Tomas

    In you post you say Rosicky and Yossi cam in for Ramsey and that meant the pace had gone down. Rosicky is ten times faster with and without the ball then Ramsey and ten times more direct in his running. He actually runs forwartd with the ball while Ramsey usually moves in circle or goes backwards or uses his backheels kicks. Both players are far better then Ramsey who has been a major dissapointement recently