Was the Arsenal success a mirage?

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A Spurs win isn’t a god given right. It might have felt that way over the last twenty years. But it’s not.

A loss still sticks in the throat though, like a lunchtime curry. I’m still a bit numb about it all. I think what’s getting me is they were fully deserving. They looked sharper, they had more hunger and they executed the pressing game with discipline and desire.

We could have done things differently. Firstly, the line up wasn’t the best it could have been. Welbeck starting was an odd choice. He’s spent a lot of time on the sidelines and outside some early brightness, he certainly didn’t offer the defensive cover out on the right we were hoping for. I’d have preferred Theo. The blistering pace and the fear factor he offers would have been the perfect remedy for a Sanchezless side.

… that said, he was equally as poor as WELBZ when he came on, but I think he’d have made Spurs think twice about that high press.

Secondly, Ozil in big games. He’s not the one. Outside the goal he was anonymous. He should have gone at half time. He offers no protection and has zero fight or interest. Rosicky should have started. He keeps the ball moving, has all the drive in the world and he’s a spark. We need to have a plan to replace Rosicky in the summer and some serious consideration needs to go into whether we keep the mega expensive German on the books.

Ramsey had another off day. He holds onto the ball for too long and his distribution has flatlined. He thinks he’s Roy of the Rovers. He thinks about being Steven Gerrard too much and he’s regressed back to early career mode. Is he a potentially world class player lacking confidence or is he a Harry Kane who’s had his one season of wonder? Will the real Ramsey step up?

Put a Morgan Schneiderlin in that position, someone with genuine power and pace and you’d see a different score there today.

Finally, the keeper. Geoff told me a story about playing golf with Earnie Els. The big easy hit a shot at the pin, he landed it six feet to the right. He slammed his club into the ground and cursed.

‘Earnie, you’ve just got a blinding shot, what’s the problem?’
‘I was aiming 6 feet to the left. So I’ve missed by 12 feet.’

So my point here is that by average joe fan standards, Ospina played well. However, by professional standards, Ospina had a shocker. It’s not acceptable at professional level to parry balls back into the danger zone. Mannone used to do that. You train everyday of your life not to do that. One of his saves led to a Kane goal, but there were at least 4 additional examples of him pushing balls back into dangerous areas. Not to mention the unnecessary Hollywood saves. His kicking was also suspect. He hasn’t conceded in 300 off minutes, but to be fair, there’s been a lot of bread and butter games. Saturday was the first real game he’s faced sustained pressure and he failed it miserably.

… it looks like we have two average keepers on our hands. If we never invest, we’ll never land that world class number one we’ve lacked for so long. I mean even at a base level with Ospina, he doesn’t look like a Premier League keeper. That’s a bad sign. Look at Forster at Southampton.

From a tactical standpoint, we went with a plan, but we went with the exact same plan we had against City. Minus the good defending. Minus the good passing. I guess we also forgot that Spurs are a different team and they have a different style. We were rumbled.

I think ultimately, we’re very close as a team, but once again, we’ve shown at the highest level, we just don’t have enough of the jigsaw sorted. I still believe the most important change we could make is the manager. Wenger will always land us in the top 4, but he doesn’t have it in him to push on from there. He’s hit a managerial plateau… or, he’s at the same plateau he’s been at since 2004, except others our now surpassing him.

Someone more dynamic, more ruthless and more willing to do things quickly… well, we bring that in and we’ll not be cursing an incomplete squad that lacks a smart plan every season.

But hey, look, we’ll still land top 4. We have 15 games left, of which only 5 are against teams in the top half of the table. We’ll also have Chamberlain, Wilshere and Sanchez back in the mix in the next week or so… which gives us a different dynamic.

Then we’ll do exactly the same thing again next year… and the cycle will continue.

P.S. I’ve not  been able to track the comments of late, but I’ve had various people e-mailing in that it’s getting out of hand. If you can’t play by the rules, then you’ll find yourself blocked. I write this for fun. It’s an opinion on football. I write it on the bus most days. It’s there to spark a bit of debate for Gooners to help people get through the day. It’s that simple. Just my thoughts on a football club. If you don’t like it, don’t read it and don’t comment on it.

616 Responses to “Was the Arsenal success a mirage?”

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  1. Wallace

    Paulinho

    pre-Mourinho Mata was just as good for Chelsea as Silva is now for Man City. he’s not been found out, he’s just at the wrong team.

  2. Paulinho

    Wallace – No he wasn’t. He’s absolutely nowhere near Silva as a player.

    He got good stats because when Chelsea countered he was the free man. He basically played as a second striker with no defensive responsibility, or if he did he didn’t do it very well.

    There’s a reason we beat Chelsea 5-3 at Stamford Bridge, and it’s because of players like Mata in their midfield. Mourinho was smart enough to see that.

  3. Wallace

    Paulinho

    “He got good stats because when Chelsea countered he was the free man. He basically played as a second striker with no defensive responsibility, or if he did he didn’t do it very well.”

    what, and Silva turns into Lee Cattermole when City lose the ball?

    he moved to Chelsea for 23m, and then on to Utd for 37m…suggests he was doing some things quite well.

  4. Paulinho

    Wallace – Well that’s the difference between people that understand football and those who don’t. Stats can suggest alot of things. Mata was getting good stats that made him look good but made his team as porous as a colander.

    Mourinho has got flair players now that are better footballers than Mata and also defend alot better.

  5. Leedsgunner

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2946098/Jack-Wilshere-adopts-famous-Cristiano-Ronaldo-stance-Arsenal-training-session.html

    Must be a slow news day… if JW actually posed for this — he’s a bigger knob than I thought.

    What a poser in every sense of the word. Unless you decide to get your head straight that’s the closest you’re going to get to being like Ronaldo. Talk about toe curlingly cringey.

    I find Wenger’s comments on Wilshere’s return interesting…

    Often he is optimistic on his favourites and their recovery prospects. I just wonder, if for Wenger, his patience has grown thin on Jack and his antics.

    If he produced on the field when he was fit you could expect any manager tolerating it, but with Jack being indifferent on the field and comical and undisciplined off it, I wonder if Wenger is having thoughts…

  6. Wallace

    Paulinho

    “Wallace – Well that’s the difference between people that understand football and those who don’t.”

    nice. you been hanging out with Bamford & london gunner?

  7. Zementalstrength

    “Well that’s the difference between people that understand football and those who don’t.”
    ==> “…that’s the difference between people… and Keyser”.

  8. Keyser

    “he moved to Chelsea for 23m, and then on to Utd for 37m…suggests he was doing some things quite well.”

    Instead of thinking this shows how abundant Chelseas options are or how mental the transfermarket is, he’ll simply say Mourinho ingeniously conned the world.

  9. Emiratesstroller

    Arsenal’s problems are not offensive but 100% defensive and if you want proof of that just look at our performance level against the top teams in League.

    Leaving aside results the team conceded 21 goals in 5 games away from home where we lost badly and that represented half the goals conceded last season.

    This season we have managed just 2 victories in 9 games against top 7 opposition and whilst we may not be losing as badly as last season the same problems in team still exist as then. Nothing has changed.

    The simple truth is that the back seven positions in team/squad are the same
    as last season apart from departure of Sagna, Vermaelen and Jenkinson and
    only Sagna a first team regular.

    Only replacement in team in goalkeeper,defence or central midfield was at
    right back before Christmas. Wenger has now replaced Szczesny, Arteta and
    Flamini with Ospina and Coquelin, but otherwise personnel is much the same.

    Teams who win titles are those with tight defences unless you have good fortune to have Ronaldo and Messi. Ours leaks like a sieve against top opposition.