Well, well. Beaten again. Wenger’s worst points total up until this point in a season ever. It’s getting easier and easier to write these posts because dissecting Arsenal isn’t a challenge anymore. A 14 year old school boy could manage it because our approach to games is so basic, predictable and easy to work around.
Chelsea weren’t particularly impressive yesterday, which made the defeat even tougher to digest. We lined up with the strongest line up we could. Arteta was missing, but he’s hardly been a rock this season. My thinking was that Coquelin would probably suit the game better than the ex-Evertonian because he has the energy and pace which you need to take on a Chelsea midfield packed out with fast moving technically gifted players.
Well, things didn’t really work out how I’d expected. Within a 5 minutes we were a goal down. Giroud was slipped in on goal by Theo, he had found acres of space, took aim and let rip wide of the far right post. A terrible miss for a Premiership striker. It didn’t take long for the ball to make its way down our end, Coquelin managed to pick up possession in the middle of the park, he went on a bit of a dribble, Ramires crunched his ankle, the ref should have called a foul, the ball made it out wide to Hazard, he looped a ball to Mata who had ghosted into the box in front of Sagna and behind Mertesacker… the Spaniard stunned the ball with his first touch and roofed it with his second. A real shambolic goal from start to finish… how can two internationals be so unaware of who is around them? Also… notice that two players we should have signed help work the goal?
Both teams failed to get to grips early on, Arsenal had chances, Cazorla fired a swerving shot at Cech but it was tipped wide. Lampard found himself free in our box after a corner, he wrapped his volley against the post but was adjudged offside. He wasn’t offside, once again, the Arsenal players had their minds on other things.
The next major incident came in midfield. Mertesacker played a ball into Diaby, the Frenchman turned into danger and lost the ball to Ramires, he set Torres free… at this point Ramires made his way into the box, Sagna didn’t track his run, Coquelin didn’t look behind him… Torres played the ball to Mata who pass across goal to Ramires, the keeper came bounding out of his box and spread for the block with his legs wide, Ramires fell over him on purpose and the penalty was given.
Terrible defending. Whether Ramires dived or not is not the point. If you come flying out of your area like that, you open yourself up to that type of trickery. Watch the replay back, when Ramires is played in, the Arsenal players all stand and watch, they pretty much give up, there’s 4 of them all in a bunch like an under 11s bottom division game. Lampard stepped up, struck his penalty the opposite direction of the Chesney dive and made it 2-0 after 15 minutes.
After that, there was no reaction from the Arsenal players. There was no game plan. They had no clue what they were doing or wh0 they were playing for. It was abundantly clear no thought had gone into a game plan. I understand that teams can find themselves a couple of goals down early on, that’s not what bothered me, the total lack of effort to rescue the game is… The worst culprit was Bacary Sagna. I love him as a player, by my oh my how he’s regressed since these botched contract negotiations. He looked like he was sulking at one point, pottering around like an old lady in haberdashery. How many more terrible performances does he have to drop before Jenkinson is given a go?
Our system is supposed to be built upon pressing the opposition off the ball. We don’t do it. So unless my assertions about how our Barca type set up is supposed to work are totally wrong, the players aren’t doing the basics. We literally sit back and let the play come to us. Occassionally if we’re up for it we’ll close down. But again, if no thought has gone into how you press, it’s kind of pointless. I can accept that we don’t have a team dripping in quality, most clubs don’t… what I can’t accept is that you can’t get pretty good players to play with fire in their bellies. You don’t need to be world class to play with passion. That comes from the top. That could come from Steve Bould if he was given responsibility for anything more than picking up the cones and cutting the half time oranges.
The second half, as expected, had a little more about it. Mertesacker fired a shot from the edge of the box straight at Cech. Walcott found space down the right and forced a good save with a low drive. Giroud added to his woes when he missed a pretty good chance to head home from a Sagna cross. Maybe it was a tough chance with all the shoving that was going on, but still, I expected a little more.
Our chance came after some good work from Cazorla in the middle saw the Spaniard slice a beautiful through ball to Theo who took one touch and banged his shot into the top corner. We were back in the game.
We didn’t have enough in the tank after our 15 minutes of fight. Most of the good chances fell to Chelsea. Torres hashed up his afternoon with some terrible finishing and Demba Ba showed us all how rubbish he is when he rounded Chesney and had his shot saved off the line by Thomas Vermaelen. Giroud summed up our afternoon when he found his way to the byline, he cut back, but no one had the forethought to make their way into the dangerzone.
The tie finished 2-1… Arsene Wenger once again showed himself up… our squad too good Arsene? Really?
Today the newspapers and people in the know are saying we’re in for M’Villa and a host of other players. Why does it take a couple of bad results to confirm the obvious? If M’Villa is coming in now, why didn’t we have him this summer? We’re too reactive. If we’d won yesterday, no doubt we wouldn’t be in for anyone. When you’ve got £70m in the bank, you shouldn’t be waiting for the late January sales… especially when so many of the important games have come at the start of the month.
We’re now seriously staring down the barrel of missing out on the top four. I’m not going to get too despondent, this is a poor league this year. Win 5 games on the bounce and I’ve no doubt we’ll be sitting in in the top four. However, this strategy of hoping we’ll improve by being the team to regress the least is utterly ridiculous. There’s no fight in that squad. That’s not because there’s no fight in the players, that’s because we’re a shambles and the manager has lost the faith. People fight for Mourinho, Pep and Ferguson… why aren’t they doing the same for Arsene?
Our bench was embarrassingly poor yesterday. No striker, no midfielder who you could count on. This mess isn’t going to be solved with new players, the problem goes way beyond that. The club is rotting, it’s just such a shame the only way we’ll see an improvement is if the manager leaves… or we get to the end of his current deal. He’s built up too many credit points with Stan Kroenke to lose his job even if he finishes 8th. What a terrible way to run a football club? Arsenal need to be careful they don’t let the rot go too far… without the Champions League you lose appeal which makes it hard to snap up players like Cazorla. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but I can honestly say I’m seriously worried. I’ve never seen a Wenger team so unresponsive. A combination of bad management and average players.
Time is running out on the transfer window and we need a massive kick up the back side. The very fact that Wenger has taken so long to remedy the glaring problems shows you how deeply he’s slipped into power mad arrogance. He’s doing it his way, regardless of how obvious the outcome is…
10 days left to make an impact on the transfer window. Keep them crossed Wenger lucks out and we bring in the type of quality that can work without instruction…