Ahh, I don’t mean to be the Christmas Grinch, but I will today. A win is a win and after two straight losses you might think I’d be happy, but I struggle after that performance.
People say that we dominated possession and the passing statistics, and sure, we did, but once again, I think we struggled tactically against a pretty bog standard team and I think that sort of performance is exactly why we’re often found out against the bigger teams.
Firstly, from a starting 11 perspective, when you’re playing a team like WBA, you know their main aim is to give the ball to you and sit deep. The team that affords opposition the most possession in the league I think. So when you know that’s the deal, why are you doubling up with precaution by giving your midfield the gift of Xhaka and Coquelin. The Frenchman isn’t very capable when it comes to moving the ball forward and didn’t it show yesterday? It’s like offering them up a free man.
Secondly, from a tactical perspective, when things aren’t going your way, but you’re dominating play, do you really have to stick to 70mins to make a change? It’s so predictable and it’s so risky.
Yes it paid off. Yes we took the points. But this lack of appreciation for what’s going on in the game and the inability to change things as they’re happening is why we don’t pass the last 16 in the CL. We beat the teams we’re supposed to, but we struggle when the level of ability and smarts is upped.
Thankfully, when Wenger did roll on Rambo and Perez things looked up. Suddenly we were moving the ball around with a bit more directness. Suddenly we looked a bit more dangerous.
Bless Iwobi, the guy has a lot of talent, but gjeez, take him out the limelight for a bit. Constantly giving the ball away and making the wrong choice with his passes. Perez came into the fold and immediately looked more dangerous and obviously more mature on the ball.
Rambo should have been rolled on at half time when we knew WBA had zero interest in coming to play. I love the way he sweeps the ball around the pitch and I like the way he can pass players with dribbling skills. I appreciate he’s not as solid defensively as Coquelin, but he’s so much more dynamic.
Giroud landed the winner late on, and boy did he need to. That miss he made when Perez slotted the ball across the box was embarrassing, as was his performance up until that moment. He really was in a battle yesterday, but his lack of pace and mobility shapes our movement in a quite a negative way. I’d take Sanchez or Perez over him at the moment. Also, if we’re not willing to adapt to having a lump in the box by feeding him crosses, what’s the point?
Mesut had a solid return to form creating a whopping 7 chances. Shout out to Kieran Gibbs as well who looked solid on his latest chance but most importantly, creative moving forward. I know that he always loves to bomb forward and defence is usually his weakness, but it was a nice relief to see him contributing positively to the game.
So we slog on to the next game, Crystal Palace at home against Sam A. Then we take on Bournemouth to cap off our festive fixtures. Two more wins and the month won’t have been great, but it certainly wouldn’t have been totally horrible.
Bad news is that Mourinho has found a rhythmn and Ibra is doing the business like the freak of nature he is. Conte marched on to attacking our 15 straight win record, my hope there is that when it collapses, they’ll struggle to deal with the loss of a streak. Liverpool continue to turn in results. As did City. This race is tight, and sadly, it looks like we have the players, just not the right manager to execute a winning plan this season.
We’ll see though… as Wenger said yesterday, fans are quick to change their minds. 2nd half of the season presents plenty of chances for AW to show us he’s the king!