Nothing like a Geoff post to get people talking eh? Wow. Who knew an opinion could draw out such extreme love (250 shares from the site, I had about a thousand @ mentions on Twitter , plus 785 comments on a Sunday) and extreme angst in 70/30 (70 in favour) proportions. I didn’t agree with everything he wrote, but I never do… clearly it struck a chord with plenty though. Surely that’s the beauty about football… if you want to read bland… there are 200 other Arsenal blogs out there that do a spectacular job of covering every opinion in crowd pleasing fashion. You won’t get that here though… and god bless that fact. Football is about emotion, sometimes it goes to far, but give me a post that sparks something inside over one that leaves me wishing I’d left the computer switched off everyday of the week.
Here’s a grand idea. If you don’t like it… don’t read it. Simple as that.
Anyway. Moving onto my thoughts on the game. I was hugely disappointed is all I can say. Geoff was right… I was too despondent to post. I thrash out my hard earned to watch some effort. I had a feeling we’d be served up something like that and sure enough we were.
That was Arsene Wenger’s 900th. That was Pat Rices last home game as number 2. We had European football riding on that. It was the last game of an atrociously average season and the players served that up. Utter garbage for the first 45minutes. I have a pal who works in the game and I was told at the start of the season that the main difference between a club like Arsenal and a club like Norwich is work ethic. We have far more talent, but sometimes that can’t match the pure hunger a team like Norwich will show.
Now, our first team 11 have a great work ethic, but as soon as you start creeping down the pecking order, you can find yourself playing games like the one at the weekend. I thought the first half was flat, ill disciplined and clueless. Norwich were first to every ball, they were more tactically aware than us and they did a fantastic job of moving the ball around the pitch. They were the better team.
The second half we came out with a lot more purpose going forward. Gervinho upped his game marginally, but he still looks a million miles away from the £15million player we’d hoped for. He has no bottle in front of goal. If anyone changed up our luck it was Chamakh. I was taking notes on the game. When I was typing ‘Chamakh’, my iPhone was auto correcting to champagne. I thought that was amusing considering he’s generally been White Lightning when it comes to turgid performances. Not at the weekend though. He gave Norwich all sorts of problems. He was knocking balls down, competing in the air in a way Robin couldn’t and he was pulling defenders out of position. It was great to watch.
Some people were asking why we didn’t elect for a 4-4-2 at home against Norwich? Why don’t we change things up when they’re going badly far earlier than we do? Wenger hand sitting is so frustrating to watch.
Chamberlain came on as well. He also made a difference. We have to take it on the chin with him though… he’s a long way off being where we need him to be. I love his spirit and his strength is impressive… at one point he brushed a lump of a Norwich player aside without any effort at all. He also has a shot on him that he’s not afraid to unleash. What I will say is that I stand by my point I made to much criticism at the start of the season. He should not have been out biggest outlay last summer. A centre back or a defensive midfielder who was mature and experienced should have been.
We’ve conceded 47 goals this season. That is a incredible number. Absolutely awful. I can’t beleive that Wenger planned to address the defence last year and we’ve ended up in a worse position. It’s truly abysmal. Now with Chamberlain, I accept you have to snap up talent like that when you spot it. He wasn’t a priority though. He should have supplemented older more mature signings, not been our flagship buy. He was another tomorrow signing. United don’t make tomorrow signings over players that can impact their current campaign. We do… all the time.
You can have a 4 world class defenders in an average unit that ship 47 goals. Or you can have 4 average players in a world class unit who are as tight as a ducks backside. I’m not sure our back 4 of the good old days on an individual level were absolutely world class. They couldn’t all get into the England side way back when… but they were drilled, knew there jobs and gave a crap about clean sheets. Can that be said of Kieran Gibbs? How can a man be caught out of position so many times yet not even sprint back to help out? Is anyone going to pull him to one side and show how he was partly to blame for each goal? I doubt it. He makes the same errors in every game.
That’s why I’m more and more convinced this summers biggest signing is the number two. If it’s Steve Bould. How much influence is he going to be given. Will he have the fresh ideas and the neck to go in and tell Arsene Wenger what he needs to do with that back 5? I hope so. Bould has it in him to be like Guardiola. He’s had the pleasure of Wenger’s attacking football at its very peak, but he’s also had the repressive defensive strategies of George Graham. If those two ideologies could be blended together, we could have quite the coach on our hands.
This summer needs to be about addressing our tactics, our attitude on the pitch and our glaring squad inadequacies.
A final word for the keeper as well. You simply must do better. He’s been an irritant for while in goal. The not diving for shots is starting to grate, but the kicking and the casual nature of distribution really is a longer term worry. He doesn’t seem to be improving there. I can’t work out whether it’s laziness or a lack of competition. Whatever it is, it needs to be addressed this summer. The first goal he let slip in was very weak.
I said straight after the game at the weekend that Spurs were by no means a guarantee for a win against Vila. In my heart of hearts though, I couldn’t see how Spurs, off the back of a 4-1 win over Bolton, would fail to turnover a team that are probably the worst in the league over the last 4 months. However, it seemed that my heart was wrong. As poor as Villa were, they took the lead, lost it, but managed to hold on. That puts 3rd place back in our hands as Newcastle were beaten by two against City. How the hell we keep getting away with this is beyond me. We have been though…
That said, I’m not really looking at the season with any view that it’s progress now. The only progress we’ve made is that we’ve pushed ourselves higher up the table with a far more average squad. The team needs work in the summer. If the last 6 weeks haven’t told Wenger all he needs to know about the character of some of his players, well, like Geoff said yesterday, I wouldn’t be fussed to see the back of him.
Let’s hope Podolski is one of many. Not the one and only.
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Have a great day Grovers, see you in the comments.