So there we have it, our seven game winning streak has come crashing down with an almighty thud against a team my QPR supporting guest blogger was almost certain they had no chance of winning. We’re at that point in the season now where you can’t look at that result with anything other than total disappointment. We should have gone out and taken them apart, instead, we put in a lack lustre performance and dropped three extremely vital points. Our cushion has now disappeared and we’ve invited a world of pressure back onto ourselves.
The selection was odd straight from the off. Why when you have the £15million Gervinho and the £15million Chamberlain in your squad you opt for Ramsey on the left is completely perplexing. Both of the latter are wingers, both have far more threat going forward than the Welshman. A decision that reeks of trying to be too clever… even though I can’t quite work out what he was trying to counter with his strategy?
Anyway the first chance of the match fell to Robin after a solid opening 15minutes, his freekick was hit low at Paddy Kenny who had no problem gathering the ball up. After that, QPR started to feel their way into the game playing at a higher intensity than us. Their first chance fell to Zamora when he leaped highest to head over from a Taarabt freekick into our box.
Their opener was a sickener. The ball was played from QPR’s defence right through the middle of park. It wasn’t even a well hit pass and it should have been intercepted by our midfield, it wasn’t, Kieran Gibbs played Taarabt onside as he picked up the ball, shook off Vermaelen who kind of gave up the challenge as he watched the Moroccan smash the ball past Chesney.
What a shocking piece of defending by the whole team there. Especially disappointing to see Thomas make such a weak mistake.
It didn’t take a huge amount of time for us to level up against the run of play. Robin Van Persie managed to bundle the ball through to Theo Walcott who was in the box… he turned and struck his shot at the base of the post, the second ball came out and he fired it into the empty net. A great finish…
The second half wasn’t really much better than the first. We lacked urgency and drive all over the pitch. Aaron Ramsey was showing that he’s still not being coached properly. I like him as a player, I really do… but as I said earlier on in the season, he just doesn’t seem to get told about the bad parts of his game… namely, that he holds onto the ball too long. When he zips the ball around quickly, he’s great. What he tends to do is run with it until he’s knocked over, the attacking advantage is lost or he runs it out of play. That’s a coaching issue for me.
Alex Song was demonstrating all my fears. He’s a defensive midfielder who can create. Not a great creative midfielder. All of this nonsense around him being like Cesc is absolutely that, nonsense. However, someone needs to tell him that. He was one of the worst offenders yesterday for misplaced passes going forward. He should not be the focal point for creativity because that’s simply not where he excels.
However, it is worth noting that he set Robin free on goal one on one on 58 minutes, the Dutchman fired a high shot, but Paddy Kenny pulled off a masterful save to deny Robin his goal. That was pretty much the turning point for us in the game.
QPR took the lead again after gaining possession after Chesney failed to communicate with Koscielny resulting in a throw. Joey Barton played in Mackie, Vermaelen ran out to challenge him, slipped, lost his man, Mackie bombed into the box, picked out Diakité who had no one marking him and bang… we were 2-1 down.
Where was our midfield? Where were Vermaelen’s studs?
3 points dropped at a ground where we really should have been extending our unbeaten run.
So what went wrong?
Well, apparently an 7 game winning run doesn’t make you the greatest team in the world and it doesn’t mask the deficiencies you’ve had in your squad all season. We have a good starting 11, we just don’t have a great starting 11. If a few things don’t click out on the pitch, we have very little to call upon, particularly up front.
You also have to make sure if you’re banking your season on having a good starting 11, you actually play that starting 11. Fielding Ramsey out on the left when I can name 4 players I’d rather have there (Gibbs, Santos, Gervinho and Chamberlain) is nothing short of ridiculous. Still, I liked Wenger’s reasoning after the game…
“The thinking is that he played there because I decided for him to play there,”
I like that line, we should all take that back to the work place on Monday, the world would be a better place. I think what made the Ramsey decision even worse is that it took until 69minutes to make a change. Surely Wenger could see what we were seeing? Why not make the change earlier? Chamberlain might be rough round the edges but he’d have given us more options and possibly prevented Song passing to Theo all game, which as an opposition gets quite easy to defend against… especially if Theo is having an off day.
Then we have Robin Van Persie. He can’t score every game, he really can’t… but we have no other option if he’s not on fire. I don’t know how many times Chamakh has come on this season, but I’d be interested to know how many times he’s come on and we’ve lost. He is our white flag, you know it’s time to switch off the hope button when he saunters onto the pitch. I know this is a bit out there, but wouldn’t you prefer to throw Afobe into the mix over a player who we know is absolute garbage? Even worse is watching Nik B score and assist against City. Our second best striker is playing for Sunderland. Go figure?
There’s also the Alex Song problem. He’s being compared to Cesc on the main website. He’s not the sharpest, he’ll believe those comparisons and the stats show it. He made 18 duff passes going forward. 18! That’s huge. Sure he set Robin off on a run, but 18 duff passes was the reason we used to get so annoyed at Arshavin. Song is a defensive midfielder, he should play as one. Yesterday highlighted why we need a disciplined one so badly this summer. Diakité should have had Alex Song hanging off his back or in front of him for his goal, not a million miles away telling Robin off for not calling him Zidane.
Thomas Vermaelen has to be the real scapegoat if there was one yesterday. One of the guys I sit next to at the stadium has been saying for a while that the reason we love him so much is because of the Keown-esque bluster he has about his game, not his great defending. It’s true. We do overlook the errors he makes on the pitch because we connect with him (same with the keeper). Yesterday he performed badly. He’s far better than that. He needs to tighten up and sometimes I feel he needs a bit more focus.
The most important issue to stem from the game today isn’t that we lost. It’s how we react to the loss. Traditionally, we tend to collapse after a disappointment. If we do that at this point in the season, say hello to Europa Cup football next season. If we can steady the ship, win our next two against Manchester City and Wolves, then 3rd is still ours for the taking. There will be plenty of twists and turns during the run in, we just need to hope Wenger has a plan to combat the confidence crisis he usually finds his team in.
Also, I hope yesterday highlighted the need for top quality reinforcements this summer. I hope it showed all the supporters who were thinking we’d be challenging for the title next season that we’re still a very long way off that. Wenger needs to address his squad issues or we’ll be in exactly the same situation again next season. We’ve all been taking the p*ss out of Spurs fans for thinking they’re world beaters after 3 good months, we’ve been guilty of the same because we’ve won 7 games on the bounce. We can still take third, keep them crossed the boys bounce back.
Oh… and come on the SWANS!
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See you in the comments.