Arsenal ran into a bit of a Premier League block last night when they drew to Southampton away from home. We played badly, we didn’t find our rhythm and individual mistakes cost us a full three points in a game that really… we probably deserved to lose.
We went one down after some shoddy full backery from Monreal who allowed a header in at the near post… the keeper also made a total hash of the goal at his near post. We didn’t really get back into the first half, Monreal spent most of his time making a mess of anything that came his way, it’s like he’d never experienced the rain which made a total mockery of my pregame excitement he’d been given a run in the side.
The second half started with a bit more zip, like they normally do this season. Sagna picked up an overhit cross, he whipped it into the box low with Giroud turning it in with some sort of crazy turn and drag. It was an exciting goal, though I’m unsure he had a clue what the hell he was doing.
It didn’t take long for us to take the lead. Ozil made space on the edge of the Southampton box, he slipped Cazorla in on the 18 yard line, the Spaniard carved his shot into the far corner with the outside of his foot.
The last thing we expected was to go down almost straight away, but that’s what happened when Rodriguez took advantage of poor Sagna defending outwide, he cut the ball back and Lallana finished well.
We had a few chances after that, but they had better chances, forcing a couple of decent saves from Szeceney. Flamini topped off a wet and upsetting afternoon with a two footed lunge that earned him a red card. What an absolute tool.
Still total speculation, but the rumour is that Aaron Ramsey suffered a major setback and won’t return for another 6 weeks. Something to do with a tendon. Now, this is all too predictable. How often have I said it this year? Fitness management will be our undoing. Ramsey is injured because he was poorly managed during the Christmas period and if he’s injured this close to recovery, it’s probably not too wild a guess to say it’s likely to be because we’ve rushed him back and over trained him. This is something we’ve been notoriously bad at over the year. Vermaelen and Jack are prime examples of this in action.
*Asking if I’m medically trained really is a simpleton question. I’m not a trained meteorologist, but I can tell you how a cloud is formed. If you speak to the right people, it’s not difficult to gain a grasp of the basics and layer them over what Arsenal do. We always over play key members of our squad and we ALWAYS struggle with injuries. It’s no coincidence, I’m not speaking with hindsight and experts in the game say similar things (read this article).
This poses a really big issue for us. He won’t be with us for two Liverpool games, two Bayern games and a United fixture. How many teams can compete without their best player and without the previous season’s number one goal scorer? We’re losing options all over the pitch. Which means Arteta, who has really lacked on a number of occasions this season, will have to play in high tempo games, which is bad news in my opinion.
We’ve known what the squad issues are all transfer window, yet we’ve done nothing. Cabaye has gone to PSG, Matic to Chelsea, Vucinic could go… there are plenty of clubs in Europe desperate to move players on… yet we’ve opted for no one. We’ve actually looked to complain about how unfair a transfer window that could massively help us is… it’s like refusing to treat a gangrenous leg because you think the healthcare you bought is elitist.
You can’t fight reality
As I said in this morning’s post, our issue isn’t quality this season, it’s Wenger’s lack of trust in his squad. Diaby, Park, Bendtner, Frimpong, Jenkinson and Sanogo are all players that don’t have the managers’ trust… or they’re massive liabilities on the injury front. How much wastage do City and Chelsea have? Ok, let me rephrase that… who are the Chelsea / City equivalents of what we have? Dzeko is City’s Sanogo… need I say more?
Those players cost us points… because it means we play fatigued players who can’t perform, or it means overworked players pick up injuries and we have to put substandard options on the bench. We have a brilliant 16 players. However, this isn’t 2002, you can’t win the league with a brilliant 16. You need a brilliant 22 players.
That said… despite it being a painfully slow road back to the top, us having a brilliant 16 is progress.
Now we’re kind of heading out of the Christmas rut of games and into the Champions League and FA Cup. Liverpool start getting more of a rest than Arsenal do, which is exactly why they have been so good this year. They’re title contenders this year and if we start to drop points, we could easily find ourselves in a battle for top four… which after the season we’ve had is not what we need. We’re going to have to shape up, we’re going to have to hope fringe players come good and we’re going to have to pray that we don’t pick up anymore key injuries to key players…
Who else is looking at Mertesacker, Sagna and Koscielny and wondering if they truly are super human? Because let me tell you, chances are, they’re not… and those three are hugely overplayed because what sits behind them is not trusted by the manager.
The German wideman was given 7 minutes yesterday as he once again found himself relegated to the bench. He recently admitted he was struggling for fitness, well, he’s not going to regain that picking up sub ten minutes every week. I think people need to simply accept he’s never been a favourite of the manager. The club would have shipped him out last summer if they’d had an offer and look at his record… does he ever last a full game? Do you think a manager whose favourite attribute is fitness and pace would be happy with a player like that?
I feel for Lukas, he’s a good finisher, but he’s not particularly dynamic. Alex (blog writer) and I were watching him a few weeks ago, he came on with 20 to go, he chased a ball down… took and age to return past the half way line, then he didn’t rejoin the attack… we thought he was injured, he wasn’t, he was just being lazy.
Love hazes the reality sometimes. I love him. He loves us. He scores goals, he can create them, he’s just not the full package, which for £90k a week… I’d imagine Arsene believes he should be.
I’ve read with interest as Arsenal fans celebrate the new Arsenal deals and the sustainable business model. Sustainable has meant ‘YOU’… we’re topping that up by £22m this summer.
Arsenal fans and Liverpool fans have rallied against the prices of the FA Cup game, which have been reduced for Liverpool fans. Nice move Arsenal. Does nothing for the home fans and as far as I know, nothing for the ticket costs at Bayern. Fans are angry… but you have to face facts, sustainable, whilst having a lot to do with Wenger keeping us in the Champions League, really, mostly sat with fans coughing up £93m a year. See, whilst Wenger has spent transfer fees on a budget, he’s still had £120m+ a year to spend on wages. Fans contribute over double what the Champions League does
Puma = 23% of what fans contribute with tickets
CL = 30% of what fans contribute with tickets
So in short, don’t expect concession on tickets. If you do, expect Ivan to say… ‘but you want shiny players’… he’s right, we do. It’s just a shame the club can’t compromise. I’m happy to pay out what I do if we’re investing in the squad. I’d be happy if those concessions went to away fans. I’d spare a third of a Diaby every year to see that happen.
Average Season ticket crowd x 3000
Concession on each ticket £25
Total cost: £1.35m
Who agrees with me? Everyone? Amazing. Ivan, make it happen…
Dropping a point away at a top , albeit depleted Southampton is no shame. The problem is the narrative going on around the squad that I’ve been muttering about all year. Hopefully we can weather the storm… fingers crossed, a massive month awaits.