Yesterday was pretty horrible. I spent most of the morning listening to Spurs fans banging on about the second coming of Christ then the afternoon was occupied hearing how clever Liverpool were for signing ex-Spurs and Arsenal scout, Damian Comolli… so I was kind of hoping the evening was going to be all about Arsenal’s new breed of technically gifted players.
Eboue Djourou Squillaci Clichy
Wilshere Eastmond Rosicky (C)
Walcott Bendtner Nasri
Sadly it wasn’t to be. Wenger decided against fielding Lansbury and JET, he once again opted for Eastmond in the middle of the park and I’d say 90% of Arsenal fans knew what the outcome of that would be.
Arsenal failed to really take hold of the game from the off. We did however manage to take the lead when Jack Wilshere set Theo off with a nicely waited long ball. The Englishman kicked up into 9th gear, sprinted the length of the pitch and picked out a finish from about 16 yards into the bottom corner. Some people said the finish was Thierry-esque, me? Well, I thought it was more like a Marc Overmars finish. It reminded me of the goal he scored against United away at Old Trafford in 1998.
The game fell to pieces from there. The only spark we had in midfield was Jack Wilshere. Eastmond and Rosicky weren’t creating much and seemed to be doing their level best to break up play and put their team mates in awkward positions.
Eboue was being exposed at right back time and time again and after a Jack foul was waved on for advantage, Shaktar broke, the Ivorian was the wrong side of his man and he fouled.
The resultant freekick was just as much of a shambles, the backline deciding the shorter/lighter Eastmond should mark Chygrnsky, the cross was floated in, the Ukrainian breezed past our green centre midfielder and nodded in at the near post.
I did wonder if the players had been made aware that the Ukranian had already scored twice this season and could cause aerial problems?
Shaktar made it two when Clichy produced and epic howler. He had control of the ball down the flank, backed off presenting an opportunity to Srna who took it with both feet, nipped inside, cut it back to Eduardo who slotted home clinically.
I wonder how many of sentimental brigade cheered that goal?
Our problems worsened as the half wore on, the tense atmosphere and the fast movement of Shaktar contributed to a visible collapse on the pitch. The only three players worth a bean were JD, Wilshere and Fabianski. The rest failed to find their feet or get a hold of the game.
Nik Bendtner wasn’t receiving the service he needed, that’s still no excuse for a terrible touch and poor passing.
I hoped for an improved display in the second half, but more of the same was on show. Eastmond was struggling and was clearly well out of his depth. He was taken off for Vela on 59 minutes.
We carved out a few chances, Theo firing close to the keeper on a number of occasions. Probably the best chance of the half came when Clichy chipped a cross into the box, Squillaci connected and headed towards goal only to be denied by a smart save.
Too many cheap balls were given away in the second half and too many players didn’t turn up.
If the game was an exercise in trust, you’d have to say that the players let Wenger down badly. We can all criticise the selection of Eastmond, that felt like and obvious blunder, but that doesn’t account for the more senior players in the side letting the manager down.
Wenger wasn’t a happy man in the press conference after. Many Arsenal fans were making weak excuses on the web about losing, the coach wasn’t.
“We should have made the most of it after we scored the first goal like we did, I believe it’s a lack of maturity.
“We dropped a bit of our urgency and we were punished because they are good players.”
In the Sky interview he said that he wasn’t happy with anyone’s individual performance because he went out there to win. I’m sure there will be an internal inquiry into what went wrong yesterday because from where I was sitting, it felt like our group of young superstars went into that game believing their own hype. Complacency can be a cancer in a talented squad, it needs to be stamped out immediately.
There needs to be a marked improvement on Saturday and we simply can’t take 3 points against Newcastle for granted.
On the positive side of things, how many teams could afford to be without Cesc, Arshavin, Song, Sagna and Chamakh in their starting line up?
We also have to factor our great previous Champions League form. We’re all but qualified,so there are no worries about that. It’s just a shame we couldn’t do it last night. Last nights game was more a test of squad character, one that I feel we failed. I’d rather we make that mistake now than in a game that really counts, like an FA Cup away tie at Sunderland.
Arsenal fans have a tendency to go hugely over the top when we’re winning, then so far under after a loss the Samaritans monitor the comments when we lose. Lets pick the bones out of this defeat and move on. We’re having a great season so far and I refuse to believe we’re going to let the Black November pick us off again!
Chin up Grovers, there’s still plenty to play for.
Fabianski: Made some top saves that kept the score line respectable. He’s starting to build a bit of momentum and the defence are beginning to trust him. Maybe a little too much if you consider how many times they left him exposed last night. 7.5
Eboue: A shocking game from the right back. He was exposed an outrageous amount of times in the first half and he looked truly lost. This isn’t a surprise to me, but it will be for those who think he should be playing ahead of Sagna. 4.5
Djourou: He kept us in the game for large parts. His aerial presence and his last gasp interceptions were very important last night. I still think he gets drawn out a little too often, possibly more so yesterday trying to fill the hole left in midfield. He’s growing game from game and he was definitely a highlight for me. 8
Squillaci: He should be making sure the biggest players on the edge of the box are being picked up by our biggest players. I thought he had a slightly weak performance yesterday though he did go close to equalising. 6.5
Clichy: Another horror show from our left back. He’s been the weak link in our side for a while. I think his howlers have been over shadowed recently by the keeping problems, but once again, a complete brain freeze lead to a goal being conceded. His crossing was back to normal levels and he was bumbling all over the field. He needs a big fat T.O, but with Gibbs busy competing for the biggest crock trophy, that time is going to be hard to come by. 3.5
Wilshere: Definitely a bright spark in the first half with some superb through balls, however, as the game drew on his creative side became a touch one-dimensional and a little predictable. There’s only so many times you can try and thread it through the centre of a good defence. He was a bit impatient and things didn’t really go his way. 6.5
Eastmond: He’s not ready for Champions League football at the moment. I know there always seems to be a player we’re not happy with, but there is always a player in our squad Wenger persists with until they come good, even if they cost us. If we want to win trophies this year, we can’t be dropping 19 year olds who aren’t ready into the starting 11. 4
Rosicky (C): He’s an amazing impact sub, shame he can’t seem to do it from the off. He’s a great cog to have in your machine when everything is working in tip top order, however, when things start falling apart, his game is too fragile and dependent on perfection to be effective. Still, I prefer him as captain over Almunia. 6
Walcott: I had a disagreement before the game about whether he is a striker or not. For me, he’ll always be a winger. Comparisons with Thierry Henry are ridiculous. He’ll never have the skill or natural ability the great man once had and it’s cruel to compare the two. Theo is at his best when he’s chasing a long ball as he demonstrated last night with a superb finish. After that though, it was same old Theo, running up blind alleys and making poor attempts at final balls. Jens Lehmann and Leonardo both made valid points, the German saying he’ll never be Thierry because of height and build, Leonardo saying he’s more of a midfielder than a striker. 6.5
Bendtner: Old big time is back in the building. I felt he had a very complacent game, his touch was poor and he wasn’t holding the ball up very well at all. If he wants to reach the levels Chamakh is at the moment, he really is going to have to work harder than that. A truly woeful performance. However, it’s important to note, he’s fresh back from injury and we’ll see that type of inconsistency for a few games. 4
Nasri: Was kind of hoping for more out of the Frenchman today. Too many chipped passes and extravagant shows of skill. When Cesc isn’t in the team, sometimes he goes into his shell a little. Hopefully he’ll shake that off by the weekend. 6
Happy social media times!