Just breezing through the comments before I started to write this and one word that really stood out to me was ‘circus’, because yesterday was nothing short of it. There was so much wrong with how that panned out yesterday, it’s difficult to gather my thoughts cohesively into a story, so it’ll probably be quite chunky.
The big takeaway for a lot of Arsenal fans is that we nicked a point. I’m not going to lie, we lost our minds in the pub when Xhaka nipped that beautifully weighted left footed ball into the box allowing Giroud to power above everyone to nod home another crucial goal. It was glorious, I loved his scorpion kick celebration, the campness was a delight.
However, you can’t let cup final like game distort the facts here, a point away at Bournemouth is not good enough when your rivals are pulling away from you. We can marvel at the spirit of the comeback, but that’d ignore how we landed 3 down. We can celebrate the point because at least it pushed us up the table, but it would gloss over us dropping points when our rivals are all playing each other. We can celebrate entertainment, but we’d be pretending we weren’t the cause of it.
Nothing sums up Wenger more perfectly than the game last night. All the chickens came home to roost as we tapped out of the title race and handed the momentum to proper managers.
What a fu*king car crash that was. Initial thoughts were that he’d dished out a double slap to both Ramsey and Perez. Perez because he’d been dropped after a pretty decent game at Palace, Ramsey because he’d been put out wide on the right. Well, turned out we were wrong there. Ramsey had been pulled into the side and given the role of #10, despite Iwobi doing a very good job of it the other night and despite Aaron Ramsey not having the ingredients to play there for us. It’s like giving Theo a go at CF just to shut him up for a year.
We continued with Giroud up front, we dropped Sanchez out on the left. Then in midfield Wenger put Coquelin in the side AGAIN next to Xhaka. Really baffling. Even worse, in defence, he continued to persist with Koscielny but he bizarrely brought Mustafi back into the side after a month out to face an aggressive team known for their fitness and hustle.
It was pretty much disaster from start to minute 70. Bellerin was caught out early on when he pushed up too far into the middle exposing a monstrous gap Bournemouth jumped on. A long cross field ball from Stanislas found Daniels, he ambled into the box, dummied Bellerin’s sprint back and dropped his shot inside the near post. Poor keeping and terrible team defending.
Things started to unravel pretty quickly from there, Coquelin who was rested 2 days ago found himself on the floor grappling a hamstring injury, as we’ve written about before, soft tissue injuries, especially for injury prone over played players are preventable. He’s been benched once in our last 7, hardly a shock.
Anyway, that didn’t help things, he’d had the most touches in the attacking 1/3 up until the 39th minute. You can’t help but wonder if that were a strategic decision on Bournemouth’s side to let him have the ball because he’s hopeless at moving it forward?
We had a bit of a resurgence that amounted to little, then disaster struck, we lost the ball in midfield a poor pass in their half couldn’t be controlled by Mustafi or Coquelin, Bournemouth broke quickly, Fraser was played into the box and Xhaka brushed him over. It was incredibly tight to call it a penalty and very soft. Wilson stepped up for the kick and stroked it tamely down the middle, Petr Cech once again getting nowhere near. Very disappointing from him again.
The final act of Bouremouth was another example of the corruption of consistency we see with Premier League refs, Fraser, who won a soft penalty against us shoved Bellerin over on the right in more brutal fashion, but he was waved on, regained composure and bundled the ball through Cech’s legs. I don’t mean to moan about refs when we play poorly, but that was a criminal decision. Questionable keeping again from Cech.
The away fans thought the game was dead and buried, half the pub went out for a cigarette regardless of whether they smoked. It looked over.
Sanchez wasn’t having any of that. On 70, Chamberlain scuffed a cross to the front post, Giroud nodded it on and the Chilean was at the back post to put a diving header in the near corner. The second goal was an absolute pearler, right up there with that scorpion kick. Sanchez rolls the ball into Xhaka, he find Giroud inside the area. The ball is deftly chipped out to the left where Perez is on hand to rasp a volley just inside the far post. Majestic.
We had the better of a tired Bournemouth by now, we started to run them ragged and sure enough our break came with Giroud being the man of the moment again to save our blushes.
He didn’t save our season though. Some Thoughts.
Possession in midfield
Another week, another team with half a brain allowing our centre backs the ball, letting it come into midfield, then press hard and win it back. We were god awful in midfield for large chunks of the game yesterday. Incapable of holding onto the ball or doing anything productive. We didn’t have an answer until the last 20 when a small team with a small squad lost a man and their rhythm.
Another minor element that has really bothered me of late is watching Petr Cech consistently hoof the ball. We are a posession team with a Wimbledon goalkeeper. Why doesn’t someone pull him to one side and explain this approach isn’t helping anyone?
Touched on it early, but why Wenger thought bringing Mustafi back into a game of this intensity was a good idea is beyond me. Gabriel has been pretty decent of late and was more than capable of doing a job against Bournemouth. Mustafi was horrendous all night, lucky not to find himself nursing a redcard. Off the pace, clutzy and not up to his usual standard.
Literally add injury to insult we lost Kos to ‘cramp’, a sure fire warning sign he needs a rest. We also lost Coquelin to a hamstring injury. Wenger doesn’t know how to manage a squad, we’ve seen it time and time again, this is what happens. The saving grace we’ve had of late is Shad F and co keep the players on the pitch more, but he can’t save them if they’re tired like they were tail end of last year.
Tactical set up
We looked utterly shellshocked that Bournemouth were hitting us hard with a press. We didn’t know what to do. Where was our agression? Where was the response? How did it take until the 70th minute to make things happen? Is it so hard to work out sides like Liverpool and Bournemouth. Let them run their arses off for 60minutes, run out of steam, soak up the pressure, then batter then for the last 30minutes. We just don’t think and this is against Bournemouth, hardly Bayern Munich.
It’s like Wenger has never dealt with a human being before the way he messes with the team. Iwobi goes from a good game at #10 to being pushed out wide. Aaron Ramsey, who will never be an Arsenal #10 has a chance to show how bad he is in that role and tanks. Perez who had a good game vs Palace isn dropped for Iwobi, who was out of his depth yesterday. Gabriel dropped for an unfit Mustafi. I can’t follow the logic and nor can the players judging by the performance.
You can’t help but look at his body language and fear the worst. He really doesn’t vibe with Ramsey, again it was evident last night. He looks like a 9 year old boy who’s been asked to play with the girls. He knows what he’s seeing is amateur hour and it’s sad to watch.
What a shocker of a game he had last night, without doubt the worst I’ve seen from him in an Arsenal shirt. I can’t help but think a big part of that was being played next to an out of sorts Mustafi. He didn’t know what to do, was he covering him, was he looking out for his side of the park, it was a mess. Also alarming that the manager said he had a knock before the game, yet he still played him.
What an irony that Eddie Howe, a manager the club have been speaking to about replacing Wenger, derailed our season by going 3-0 up and losing his bottle dropping 3 goals in 20minutes. Nothing more Arsenal than that.
Jokes aside, the circus that was on show yesterday shows you why Wenger can’t be considered an elite coach these days. Poor preparation, confused starting 11, tactical ineptness, unstructured press, fitness issues and a failure to make hay while the sun is shining.
Same old problems that are just burning brighter the longer we carry on with this charade that is the current management structure. We need a fresh start, hopefully a solid 4th place finish this season will inspire the change we need, because we are going nowhere under the current offering and the worst thing is, it looks like our best player knows this.
A fun day at the office, a solid point considering, but ultimately, another glorious failure that won’t help us reach the heights the fans so desire.
Alexis Sanchez at full-time. Fuming over a draw. Strong, winning mentality. Top draw of a player. pic.twitter.com/6AKWyob4g0
— Kloppholic (@Kloppholic) January 3, 2017