A point away at Stoke is no failure considering we haven’t beaten them at their place since 2010 when Aaron Ramsey broke his leg. Quite an amazing stat really. It’s Stoke, not Chelsea we’re talking about here.
The point looks even better when you consider we lost Ozil before the game with an injury, which left us with pretty much zero creative talent in the line up. We had to resort to Chambo in the number 10 role, which was a massive ask considering his drab form this season.
Factor in how poor the performance was and the how much the heroics of Petr Cech contributed to the result, well, you have to say that maybe we were lucky today.
The Struggle Bus: The whole setup lacked balance today. I mean, we’re pretty depleted, so it’s forced unbalanced stuff, but it’s not good. The midfield looking really clueless. Matty Flamini really doesn’t help our game and Chamberlain in the number 10 role really was a horrible decision. The front three didn’t really work, Giroud missed a glorious chance when he was fed through by Joel Campbell. I can barely remember Theo doing anything of note. He was missing in action yet again and he didn’t look up for the fight.
As for the Ox, it was a car crash of a game. The only thing that seems to have saved him getting the criticism he deserves is a fierce shot he flew at goal in the first half. He does a good impression of a being a top class footballer at the moment. He makes the right turns, he runs powerfully and he looks the part… but his end product is beyond poor, in fact, even the basics he’s struggling with. At one point, he didn’t move from a 5 yard radius for what felt like a long time, when an Ozil would have been finding space. My biggest worry for him is he doesn’t look like he wants to be on the pitch. He hides. You can’t have that in a young pro.
Joel Campbell: Quite the turnaround for the Costa Rican! He’s gone from ‘oh my goooooosh, get him off’ to ‘wow, this guys is this seasons Coquelin’… I’ve said it many times, but he plays with the fear that if he gets kicked out of Arsenal, his top flight career is dead. You kind of don’t get that vibe with Theo, Ox and Jack. They’re English, they’re fine whatever happens. Another good game where he deserved an assist.
Toothless: Giroud didn’t have much of a game today. He really did blow that one chance you get in the tight games. The one chance a Robin or a Thierry would have buried. There’s no point in complaining about it, but that’s what will cost us the league this year. The keeper is saving us points, the strikers are losing them. I know there’s very little we can do about that now, bar pray that Alexis comes back into the side and hits the ground running.
Petr Cech: He gets his own section for brilliance every week. But he really has been a major difference this season. Our best signing of the last ten years. As Jack Butland said after the game, he had little to do in the first half, but turned up in the second showing incredible concentration to keep out some pretty solid attempts at his goal. I don’t like that he’s so consistently having to bail us out of a hole, but I am pleased we have someone capable of winning us points. He certainly saved us today.
IWOBI: I said before the game that I felt his skills were more suited to the game than those of Chamberlain. Someone who has vision, looks for space like Ozil does and has a bunch of confidence. He lacks experience, but Chambo plays like he lacks experience, so what’s the real difference? He came on late in the game and replaced the dismal Theo, he immediately gave more spark to our game. His deft touches and tight dribbling skills gave us a threat up top. I don’t want to bang the drum of a young player like we always do as Arsenal fans, but I really think this boy is special (I still think Chambo will be special for the record).
Top of the League: But the pack is tightening behind us. We’re missing opportunities and we shouldn’t be. The gap between Arsenal and Spurs is now only 5 points. I worry that we’ll look back on these progress hindering results against weaker opposition with ‘that was when we f*cked it’… one of my major concerns is that City have a title winning 5th gear, we don’t and we’re starting to look like we’re dropping from a steady 4th to a worrying 3rd.
Major hope is that the return of Ozil, Welbeck and Sanchez will give us the opportunity to inject some freshness into the set up. It could be enough to kick us back up into fourth… and only then will we know if we have the gust to shift it up into 5th for the run in.
Anyway, a point isn’t disastrous given the context of the past, but when it comes to our title hopes, these micro-disappointments are starting to tally up. One win in our last 6 away games. It’s not good enough.
We need to get the show back on the road in time for Sunday. 3 points lost against Chelsea and we could start to see a collapse.