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.