Tonight Arsenal take on a Schalke side who beat us a home a few weeks ago. This game takes on extra significance because we’ve lost three of our last five games, we’ve conceded 10 in the process, we’re flat on confidence and we’ve struggled to find any sort of rhythm. If there is a common theme with Arsene Wenger sides over the years, it’s the inability to pull themselves out of a bad form patch. I have no idea why that is. Is it because the manager doesn’t address the issues. Is it because the manager remains shell shocked for a period of time. Or is it just plain old bad luck?
Whatever it is, we have the chance to rectify our form this evening. Thankfully Aaron Ramsey isn’t avaiable for this evening, but at the same time, this joy is tempered by Theo Walcott being unfit because he’s been sick over the last few days. That kind of leaves us in a bit of a hole (assuming he doesn’t make it, he might do, the only sick I’ve known past 12 is alcohol related). Apparently Johann Djourrou is replacing Rambo in the squad. Great news. What depth we have. I have no idea who will replace Theo. Quite possibly Andrey Arshavin. I hope it isn’t Gnabry. Could this even be a game that Eisfeld gets a start? He showed some impressive form against Reading when he came on late in the game. He’s very slight in build but he has that hard working mentality German people boast and he’s technically sound.
The back four will most likely remain the same. Wenger will continue with Santos at left back. He leapt to his defensive in exasperative fashion (I made a word up there) in regards to the outrageous half time shirt swap saga of the weekend. I know some people will point out it’s not important, I’d argue the opposite, it’s extremely important in top class sport to get the small things right. The psychological aspect of the game is hugely important. If your left back is thinking about the opposition strikers shirt, he’s not focused. He’s not aware. He has no fear or worries about the ramifications of his behaviour. He’s not focused on the one thing he should be… winning a game of football for the club that pay him (that said, if you were one of the people who abused his wife on Twitter, you really are a sad c*nt for 1) Following a footballers wife on Twitter 2) Thinking you’re in anyway helping the cause by being so unbelievably pathetic. Twitter really does remind you how dim a large percentage of society is).
Wenger said it was a cultural thing… personally, I’ve never seen a Brazilian do that in a game before.
‘I can understand that an English guy doesn’t understand it and I’m French and I don’t understand it either. He is completely in a different world when he does that.’
At least the manager understands this was bad form. I think the bigger issue with the left back is quite how bad he is. He looked like he might turn into a good player at one point. Then he picked up an injury and he’s been frighteningly suspect since he returned. Geoff pointed out the other day that Meade looked more motivated and able when he came on against Reading. I’m not saying we should play him, but it shows the desperation we have in certain positions when I’m making points like that one.
I’m going to assume Thomas Vermaelen will start at the back with Mertesacker this evening. Hopefully a game out of the British limelight will give him 90minutes to gather his thoughts and bring some confidence back into his game. Huntelaar isn’t the striker you want to be facing when you’re in a mess mentally. I’ve never thought the Dutchman was good enough for the Premier League. I saw him score the first goal at the Emirates. He has fantastic movement, but he’s one of the slowest strikers in the Champions League. He always scores goals, I just wonder if he’d find the same space in the Premier League. He didn’t fair so well in La Liga and the Premiership has the same, if not more intensity.
Our midfield will be Jack, Cazorla and Arteta again, They have to try and dominate. It doesn’t help that both Arteta and Cazorla have to learn how to play with Jack. I still feel they’re trying to work each other out. It’ll happen, it’s just a shame we don’t have the luxury of time on this one. They need to dominate, they need to move the ball around the park a lot quicker and they need to try and break with a bit more pace. Our real problems this season have come from our front three. Podolski is struggling to showcase his talent out wide. Giroud is struggling with the pace of play and the team is struggling to work to his strengths, which I have to say, aren’t clear at the moment. Then there’s a spare position which I’m guessing has to go to Andrey… another player who is missing that yard of pace and that dollop of effort when you most need it.
Wenger summed up the importance of sorting our form this evening with this comment.
“We want to respond to that and rectify that very quickly because it is not only the fact we lost the [Manchester United] game but the way we lost it.
Bang on my friend. I’ve heard things are not well behind the scenes. The camp spirit is low. The people who pull you through the bad times? The senior players. Is Arteta a big character? How about Podolski? How about Vermaelen and Mertesacker? This evening is their chance to show they are. It’d be nice to see some motivation on the pitch. It’d be nice to see a bit of shouting. A bit of geeing up. You know, like there was back in the day when Paddy or Adams would rev the boys up. I always find the lack of noise on the pitch from the boys perplexing. It’s fine when we’re winning, not when everyone is feeling a bit low. You need a voice on the pitch. You need a motivated leader. Tonight, we need 11 leaders.
Let’s hope the away fans are served up a treat this evening…
P.S. I hope the rumours of our fans chanting unsavoury songs at Robin Van Persie were untrue. It’d be might hypocritical if not and very disappointing.