I was planning on being at the Arsenal game. I left at 2pm Friday for a 6pm flight. We were parked on the runway for 7 hours, the flight was eventually cancelled. I managed to get on another flight at 8am, I slept at the airport, only to be woken up by a call saying I’d been bumped of that flight because it was overbooked. So two things, 1) please feel sorry for me, 2) know that American Airlines really aren’t a very nice airline.
You know what else wasn’t that nice? The game I missed. I bet that was a cold one in the stands.
It kind of highlighted a few sad factors we’re going to have to deal with.
The key one being that Mesut Ozil – flawed as he is – will be missed when he departs. He made the difference with a pretty ok performance. His biggest contribution was anticipating a ball coming back to him on the edge of the box, he positioned his body perfectly to volley his shot high and powerfully into the net. A lovely finish.
Outside that, it was same old, same old for Arsenal. We controlled possession, but we couldn’t finish off United. The hopes and dreams we had for a Sanchez / Lacazette / Ozil really haven’t paid dividends. The team created 22 chances, only managing to this the target a dismal 5 times.
In our last 4 Premier League games, we’ve had 88 attempts on opposition goal, delivering 3 goals (a goal every 29 chances). We’ve hit the target 34% of the time, which doesn’t sound awful, however, the anomaly in that pack of numbers is United where we had 16 shots on target. If you go by Southampton, Newcastle and West Ham, we’ve hit the target only 21% of the time. That’s kind of shoddy.
Now imagine that in a post Mesut era (and Jack), where the team is expected to do more with far less chances? It doesn’t bode well. Next season, we really are in trouble.
I don’t want to go too deep into it, but our regista signing is actually getting worse by the week. He gave the ball away recklessly twice in the last 10 minutes of the game. Against a better team, like United, that’s curtains for the 3 points. Wenger can’t quit him though. The Swiss has been consistently average all season, and he makes some sort of fuck up every game that leads to a good opposition chance. To they have an xFuckups rating?
The positives are that we put 3 points on the table and registered a solid home win. The underlying fear is our mental issues in front of goal are a team issue, and we’re about to head into a period where confidence can be further diminished by fatigue.
Wenger needs to work out a plan to have the boys back and firing. Maybe start Danny Welbeck up front? I mean, amazing that my best solution is one of the worst finishers at the club, but that speaks more to the way Wenger has built the squad than it does my creativity.
The real challenge is what’s coming over the hill. Wenger has 3 first team players that were on the pitch today moving on a free if he doesn’t do something desperate in the next month (Jack, Ozil, Sanchez). To make matters worse in the short term, Wenger now has a Director of Football who will not tolerate a disrupted transfer window. Players like Ramsey, Welbeck, Nacho, Giroud and Cech can all leave for free the year after. So basically, next summer is likely to be a bloodbath. The new guys need to build some stability into the setup. The lack of it has cost us this season, with an impotent Sanchez, and a fairweather Ozil.
What a mess we’re in. It’s going to get worse. It’s going to cost a fortune to fix. Do we have enough money from the owner to come out the other side looking good?
Still, at least the mythical ‘squad shake-up’ is likely to happen this year, because it’ll be forced on Wenger.
So in conclusion, an easy 3 points that points that highlighted some challenging short-term issues, and reminded us of the summergeddon that is coming.