I had a pretty bad feeling before the Swansea game. We’d won a lot of games this year. United vs Arsenal wasn’t quite tantalising enough for Sky Sports, there wasn’t enough drama there. Monday night games are always the pits.
… and Swansea under Monk are very pragmatic and I guess he’s trying to prove a point, because his record is more impressive than he is ‘trendy’… and being trendy seems to be quite important on the UK management scene. Look at Allardyce being binned off after doing a very good job. West Ham really are jokers.
Anyway, my gut feel was right. We huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow their fortified house down.
How much can you draw from that game? Well, not much in my opinion. You’re either of the opinion we’ve progressed, or you’re stuck in the mindset that nothing has changed because we lost a game in pretty unfortunate circumstances.
Amazing how much grace a lot of the ‘we’ve not moved on’ crowd give to United despite them losing a few this year (and having mega expenditure).
Key things I’d take aim at from the week night, because clearly all is not perfect.
We’ve got to see when things aren’t working earlier in the game. We’ve progressed well with tactics, but we haven’t done particularly well in game. Wenger waits until 70mins to make changes. He also has quite a static approach to in-game management (when you watch continental managers make changes 20mins in, you’ll see what I mean). Jack should have come on earlier when it was apparent Coquelin was superfluous and really, we needed a striker fit for purpose earlier. 67 minutes isn’t the perfect time to have a go at a game you need to win against a team who are sitting back as a plan. Theo caused some trouble, but his lack of height really did tell and made you wonder why Wenger is dirty talking him with sexy central striker promises.
Jack should have come on earlier when it was apparent Coquelin was superfluous and really, we needed a striker fit for purpose earlier. 67 minutes isn’t the perfect time to have a go at a game you need to win against a team who are sitting back as a plan. Theo caused some trouble when he came on, but his lack of height (encapsulated perfectly by a long ball he wasn’t Giroud tall enough to bring down) really did tell and made you wonder why Wenger is dirty talking him with sexy central striker promises.
In the tightest games, we’re always going to get found out because we lack world class potency. Theo missed a pretty standard world class striker chance when it was handed to him on a plate. You could say I’m being tough, and maybe I am, but this is elite level football. You need to be taking those opportunities. Giroud had another anonymous game. Is he playing badly because he’s played all the games again? Probably… the same happened last year.
Point is, when you’re watching the Champions League semi final and the goals scored in both games, you wonder how many of those we’d have taken? Take Messi out of the equation, look at Neymar at the back post yesterday, he controls an awkward back post pass from Suarez, composes himself and buries inside Neuers near post. How many players have we in our squad who could do that in a game like that?
Now, I’m not saying we don’t have plenty of good players. What I’m saying is we need to be relentless this summer. Is Theo good enough to win us a semi in the Champions League? Probably not. Who is? Dybala? Reus? Sterling? Ok, if they could, then we need to upgrade.
Stats tell a beautiful story about Ospina. He’s come in, he’s nailed his chance, he’s keeping that ball out and he’s been a much more calming influence on the defence. BUT, it was quite clear Chesser wasn’t good enough last season. You only had to look at his playing cross field rabona’s at half time to see how unprofessional he is. I digress, an upgrade on Chezzer was always going to be easy. Now you have to ask yourself this… could we do better than Ospina this summer?
Yes. Petr Cech is better. He’s a decisive signing. He’s a game changer. Huge, calming, experienced, and an out and out winner. He’d be an amazing signing.
… he’d not have dived into the goal either and he’d have had the length to keep that header out.
Will Wenger show loyalty to a keeper who has bailed him out for 5 months, or will he go hard to make the right signing?
The biggest challenge the manager has this summer is weighing up potential growth against current needs. Jack Wilshere might grow into a monster player next season, there’s a good chance. Ramsey might pick his game up to what he was doing last season. WELBZ might start finding the net like a hero. These are all mights. Wenger needs to identify where he can take a risk on a might and he needs to purchase where he can’t.
There’s a good chance Santi will leave (at his behest), Rosicky is off, Arteta should be off and I don’t see much purpose with Flamini. There are some replacements that need to be made. Or there are some promotions to be made.
Striking that balance is going to be important.
The loss was a good thing.
Yeah, I bloody well said it.
If we’d gone into the close season unbeaten in 2015 (bar a Monaco horror show) the manager would have been sitting in his smug palace crowing about only wanting to sign top, top quality.
That was a sharp reminder that we’re not there yet. That was a sharp spike in the side of the manager. The Champions League semi-finals will be as well, there’s a sharp spike in the side of the league. We need to be better. We need to be smarter and we need to close the gap.
This is a major summer for everyone, because everyone will be splashing the cash to catch the rest. We need to be ruthless.
Right, that’s your lot.
P.S. Someone pulled me up on the short posts of late. I can only apologise for some of the lack-lustre posting. It’s 70% that I’ve started a new job and writing a blog mid-morning isn’t good etiquette. It’s part there’s not been a lot to talk about. When things are going well, there’s little to dissect.
Anyway, I’ll make a conscious effort to lift my game. I’ve gone a bit Andrey Arshavin on you.
HAVE A GREAT DAY X