I received a text from my mate yesterday…
‘Same sh*t, different season’
Once again, we’re all scratching our heads wondering how a team so talented can put on a display of football so ineffective the home fans boo them… 3 months into a season!
I don’t condone vocal displeasure normally but that performance was so terrible it deserved it. Dropping points to one newly promoted team is bad, dropping 6 points to two newly promoted teams at home is verging on footballing criminality. We can’t blame injuries, we can’t blame jet lag as half the team on show yesterday weren’t playing against Shaktar.
What we can blame is a lack of character. A fundamental flaw in the way our players approach games. It’s misplaced complacency from a team who have no right 11 games into the season to think they’re too good to turn up against Newcastle.
We’re second in a league only one of our squad has a winners medal for, we’re young, keen to prove a point and all we could muster in an important home game was 2 shots on target. Pathetic really…
Sure one of the shots drew a fantastic save from Krul. Sure we hit the bar with a deflected Cesc free-kick and a Theo strike… but we’re Arsenal, we had 60% of the possession, 2 shots on target is not acceptable against Newcastle at home.
As for the goal, well, I’ve no shame in telling you I told you so. When people were saying ‘Arsene knows’ about the Polish number two, I asked for them to bide their time. When people said he was turning into a world class keeper after making a few decent saves, I knew it was going to end in an egg on face scenario. I said,
I’m pretty sure people were crowing on here about how great Almunia had been early on in the season, that didn’t last long did it?
Ok, it came a little quicker than expected, but it came all the same. A standard freekick was flown into the box, he came 10 yards off his line, dithered, allowing Andy Carroll to nod the ball into the empty net. Wenger says it wasn’t a technical mistake. I’m not sure how timing your run isn’t part of the technique?
People can blame the defenders for not tracking Andy Carroll, but if you’ve ever played football, you know that if the keeper is coming for it, you let him take it. Why would the defence challenge for the same ball? Utter nonsense…
A factor no one seems to consider after a keeper makes a howler is the effect it has on morale. When your keeper does something like that, it deflates the rest of the squad. We never really kicked on from that error and once again, we’re cursing a keeper f*ck up and we’ve kissed away 3 extremely important points.
The icing on the cake was reading Joey Barton saying Newcastle targeted him because they knew he couldn’t catch.
Wenger threw on the subs early, he switched to 4-2-4 and we still couldn’t pick up our game. It didn’t help that our captain had the worst game I’ve seen him play in about 3 years. It didn’t help that Newcastle were intelligent enough not to get into a race with Theo Walcott. Chamakh didn’t help with his refusal to control, hold up or shoot all game.
There were positives from the game and we have to acknowledge them no matter how down we feel. Jack Wilshere was superb, he wanted the ball all the time, he took up positions in space and he really tried to force the game. What impressed me the most was how much defensive work he took on.
Alex Song played well in the first half, but his insistence on being more advanced than Jack for most of the second half was beginning to great. People nick naming him Songinho is pathetic as well. We’ve got specialists going forward, Song rotating occasionally is fine, but not for the whole game and not at the expense of someone who can really make a difference.
I thought Koscielny and Squillaci were superb. They’ve have all the aggression and speed of thought Vermaelen has and they were lumping into Newcastle players all afternoon. Those two didn’t deserve to be on a team without a clean sheet. Kozzer mis-timed a two headers and the sending off was lacking in intelligence but what was he to do? I’m not going to slate players for getting red cards. I associate indiscipline with us winning things.
It was a disappointing performance, but a familiar one. Wenger can grow talent but he fails sprinkle hunger into his fertiliser and maybe, just maybe he over cashes them too early in the growing phase…
Our midfield needs a Bastian Schweinsteiger or someone of that ilk. Our defence needs a keeper like Pepe Reina. Our attack needs a better option than an unfit Robin Van Persie who is clearly a million miles off the pace.
This squad has been found wanting. We’re 11 games in and we’ve failed to win 45% and we’ve lost 27%. Does that feel like title winning form?
This has been a shambolic week for the club. Geoff and I were in disagreement over Wenger’s off the field shenanigans. I said it wouldn’t have affected the team, however, the effects are there for all to see. Two losses in a week. I think it’s important to point out that Arsenal fans are always the first to sneer in the direction of any other club who suffers at the hands of off the field indiscretions. What ever Wenger has been up to, it’s certainly detracted from the class values we pride our football club for having.
Even more worrying is that coach doesn’t seem to have his old knack for getting player to die for him on the pitch anymore. Mourinho and Ferguson never seem to have this problem? Then again, those two will drop under performing players if they play badly and they’ll buy someone if a player is clearly not up to it.
Wenger fosters a culture of celebrated failure. Don’t believe me? Take a look at our number one at the moment… the most error prone keeper in the Premiership, playing for the 3rd richest club in the world. There are obviously other cases of under performing players never facing the chop, but I wont go into that now.
This season is teetering on the edge of Premiership failure already. Can Arsene turn it around? Can he create a team spirit that goes beyond having a squad that doesn’t argue when they play cards? Can he create a winning machine in the next month… because that’s what needs to happen, otherwise we’re ending the season trophyless again… and no one wants that.
I want desperately to think Arsenal FC has moved on from last year. I want to believe that ‘Arsene knows’ and the rest of the footballing world is wrong about his squads capabilities, but the more I look at the results, the more I analyse some of the performances, the closer I come to the conclusion that this is Ground Hog Day 2010/11.
Fabianski: Someone said that he’d played 6 games, surely one mistake is ok? Sorry, that doesn’t rub. Arsenal need a proper keeper, one that can handle pressure, one that doesn’t look like he’s been injected with adrenaline every time he catches the ball. Not good enough. 4
Clichy: Pretty average game again. His crossing was very poor. 6
Sagna: Good defending, not too effective going forward. 6
Koscielny: Sad to see him pick up another read card, but overall, I thought he was very solid at the back. 7
Squillaci: Solid in the tackle, held his ground all game and made some great interceptions. 7
Jack Wilshere: Took on far too much defensive work which detracted from his strengths. A good game though, shame he couldn’t find a break through. 7.5
Cesc: A truly shocking performance from our captain. People were blaming his lack of fitness, I’m not sure it’s that. His control was terrible, his positioning was very weak and he created very little. Winter blues have set in early from the want away Spaniard. 4.5
Song: I thought he had a strong first half but he fell away with the rest of the squad in the second. You can’t have a rotating defensive midfielder who now believes he’s an attacker. He’s a solid passer of the ball, but we have specialists who are far better than him. Once again our formation struggled against a weak team. 6
Nasri: I thought he was strong in the first half, but as the game wore on he was part of the long ball brigade and his insistence on playing those irritating floated chipped crosses is infuriating. 6
Walcott: Back to type. He hit the bar with a rasping shot and then did very little bar run into players and win corners we’re not good enough to score from. He can score goals very much in the same way Agbonlohor can. Trouble is, he’s never going to play in a long ball Arsenal side and he’s never going to play centre forward. Theo is luxury player. We need more guile out wide and he’s not the man to deliver it. 4.5
Chamakh: A very poor game from the Moroccan. He went missing in a big way yesterday and it hasn’t taken long for his confidence to erode. His touch was bad and his lack of appetite for having a punt is worrying. 5
RvP: Let Holland have him, he needs game time. A waste of a substitute. Off the pace and woefully unfit. 5
Bendtner: Came on too late to make an impact, received very little service. 6
Arshavin: Made some telling runs and nearly unlocked Newcaslte. He looks a second off his best form. Someone bring the little man back to life, it hurts me to see such a great player in such weak form. 6