A tough post to open, mainly because I’m in danger of sounding as repetitive as an Arsene Wenger post match interview. I’ve said most of this a thousand times before, that’s why this week, Geoff and I haven’t really let up because all the positivity in the world doesn’t change the fact that the club have wilfully let the manager pursue a path that sees us watching an average team that is so far removed from the teams of yesteryear, it’s hardly recognisable.
Spurs lined up with a better starting 11 than us, anyone who told you otherwise was kidding themselves. A club without Champions League football and the benefit of £55million extra a year in wages has a squad with at least 5 players who’d walk into our strongest squad.
Our fortunes have sunk so low that we had to field a complete novice in a central position, who as it turned out was on of the few shining lights in a storm of sloppy averageness.
The game didn’t really begin with the fire and fury I’d hoped. Both teams tentatively tested the water. Aaron Ramsey was immediately flagged as a problem with his sluggish passing and thoughtless distribution.
Parker had the first solid chance of the afternoon, breezing into our penalty box but shooting into the large frame of Chesney (Parker proved he wasn’t worth a punt eh?).
Coquelin was spraying the ball around very nicely, he looked far more composed than Frimpong in the middle and held his position relatively well.
Theo was the only Arsenal player interested in testing their goal having three speculative shots.
Our biggest problem seemed to be the almost total lack of movement. Whether attack doesn’t trust midfield to find their runs or attack is just too lazy to make runs is open for debate.
Our defence was struggling, Spurs runs weren’t being tracked and Gibbs was so badly out of position Song turned into a make shift left back for large parts of the half, this ruined the shape of a backline that would struggle with Ashley Cole in it.
The opener came from Ade who floated a ball over the top, RvDV controlled it with his hand and buried it with no challenge. Mertesacker was guilty, as was Gibbs who was nowhere to be seen. The goal was unlucky on our part, but that’s the way the game goes, you can’t blame the ref for not seeing something most of us only picked up on after 6 replays.
The second half started with Bale blazing narrowly over from a tight angle. Then our opener came, Song picked up the ball from outside the area, took it wide, cut back into the box where Rambo was on hand to finish. A vital lifeline which at the time, I felt was deserved.
Adebayor had the chance to give Spurs the lead when he waltzed in on goal through the middle, only to be denied by a spectacular Chesney save.
Gibbs lost Kaboul down the other end, his cross was intercepted well by Mertesacker. Then their match winner came, the ball cleared to the edge of the box, bang, Kyle Walker had a speculative dig, Chesney didn’t follow the trajectory and let it slip tamely under his arm. A soft goal and the 3rd or 4th time I can remember us being taken down by a Spurs long-range effort.
The same old story occurred after we went a goal down, we gave up. The bench had nothing to offer. Sagna went off injured and calamity Jenks came on and showed why you shouldn’t shop in League 2. Benayoun was thrown into the mix to little effect. The total lack of urgency from our boys was epitomised by our sluggish passing around the backline after 90mins had past. Did they even know there was a game to chase I wondered?
No creativity, no spark, no win. Against a Spurs side that were there for the taking.
We’ve lost 4 out of our opening 7 which is an absolute disaster, even worse when you consider what went before it.
My hope was that Wenger would by now be under some intense boardroom pressure. Sadly, we’ve got a club owner more interested in what Billy Beane has to say about his manager than the fans who pay to watch his team do.
We’re a mess. We’ll be lucky to finish in the top 7 with a squad as poor as ours. This all happened under Wenger’s watch. Who cares though, the board don’t. The manager is an invincible. Forget the fact any club worth its salt would have had him out the door after the United game.
We can’t defend, we don’t know how to attack. What a combo eh? Robin Van Persie is our superstar striker with no supply line. Theo Walcott is impotent without balls over the top and Gervinho seems to be regressing at quite a pace.
At the back we’ve got our best DM as a centre back and distributing like a muppet. Mertesacker runs around the pitch like he’s being pelted by imaginary dodge-balls and Kieran Gibbs is a total disgrace of a left back. Does he even know where left back is? Our only defensive player worth anything now finds himself crocked for 3 months. Who did the bargain basement king think could cover a world class right back? Carl ‘8 games in League 2′ Jenkinson. You couldn’t make it up.
As for our midfield… Jeez, what can you say? Aaron Ramsey looks totally lost. I like him, I really do but if there was ever a player in need of a loan move to Wigan, it was him. He’s not in form yet he’s being relentlessly played. It’s verging on unfair. His passing and all round play was awful yesterday, it wasn’t Premiership standard. Would he be getting first team game time at United? No way. He’d be on loan at Sunderland.
Arteta can only be described as a flop. He’s added steal to our midfield but nothing creatively. He barely plays an advanced pass. He also gives possession away excessively. Coquelin impressed yesterday, but again, not in a world class way, more in a, ‘well, he’s done ok for a kid’ way.
This is it though… That team yesterday isn’t missing too much. Jack will come back, brilliant, I love him, but don’t convince yourself he’s coming back armed with 20 assists and 20 goals. TV should be fit soon, again, I love him, but he oversaw a defence that leaked 42 goals next to the better Gallas. We’re really struggling… this isn’t doom, this is the reality of what happens when a manager has a spectacular fall from grace. This is what happens when checks and balances are ignored or aren’t in place at all, this is what happens when the culture of the club is more geared towards celebrating financial results than proper silverware.
This isn’t a blip, this is a sustained loss of form stretching back over 20 games. This is October, we’ve conceded 16 goals in 7 games and we’ve scored 7 points putting us 15th in the league. This is a full on crisis and the guy running our club reckons Wenger leaves when he fancies it? What an absolute embarrassment of statement, but one that totally sums up how much footballing nous Stan has. What can we do though? Nothing will change. We’re sat here, like lemons, just watching the club we love slip down the drain of mediocrity. Come the end of the season, we’ll be watching our best players leave, we won’t be in the Champions League and half the fan base will be blaming referees and injuries than coincidentally have plagued us for 5 years.
It’s time for Stan to wake up and smell the coffee, the problem is Wenger and the longer he stays, the worse the wreckage is going to be at the end of the season. I’m sure he’ll get round to sorting out the club eventually, the basket ball, NFL and Ice Hockey leagues have to finish at some point right?
Chezzer: A few Gooners said to me before the game, ‘if it weren’t for Chezzer, we’d be getting relegated’, how right they are. He pulled off some blinding saves, but has to be disappointed he let the Kyle Walker shot evade him. 7.5
Gibbs: Generally. If you’re looking for this man on the pitch and the opposition is in attack, he’ll usually be on the right or 40 yards behind play. He needs to be pulled to one side and shown over an hour just how bad he was yesterday. 3
Song: Didn’t do badly considering he was covering 2 positions and playing next to the jittery Mertesacker. His passing was very poor in the main but he did land and assist. 6
Mertesacker: What a mess eh? He’s very immobile and he’s very nervous. He let Adebayor run riot at times yesterday and he generally had a very poor game. 4
Sagna: Our best defender, sadly not out for 3 months. 6.5
Arteta: Not dominating the midfield they way a player of his age and experience should be. He’s really disappointed so far. He’s like a less irritating Denilson. 5
Ramsey: Very shoddy performance from a player who no doubt has the talent to make it big. He landed a goal, but that didn’t make up for his bad game. 3.5
Coquelin: The young Frenchman played really well considering his age and experience. He made som great tackles, didn’t shirk responsibility and put Frimpongs passing in the shade. He’s still very raw, but the signs are good. 7
Robin: How can you score if no one passes to you? Isolated in the main and totally ineffective. 6
Gervinwho: Can’t remember him do anything other than running up blind alleys and giving the ball away. 4.5
Theo: Had a few shots early one, but faded as the game wore on. He doesn’t look interested at times, why would he, he knows King Kenny has a £7million contract waiting for him in Scouse Land. 5
[twitter-follow screen_name=’LeGrove’ show_count=’yes’]