Well, all good things must come to an end, but hey, at least the end was a point away at Crystal Palace. Not a great result, but given our low expectations of this season, I’ll certainly take that.
The game was lost on two blunders. The first came from Mustafi who lunged into a player inside the 6 yard box. A totally stupid challenge, but hardly unexpected from a player who does stupid things in every game. The second came in the second half when Xhaka planted his foot in the box, Zaha leapt into the offering and won a very clear penalty.
The afternoon really could have done without mistakes like that. Our players were clearly leggy from a tough away trip in Lisbon this week, and against an impressively athletic Crystal Palace, we were going to need events to roll our way.
After going a goal down, it felt like we might have pulled off another second-half masterclass. Granit Xhaka won a freekick to the far right of the 18 yard line. He fizzed a screamer that curled into the top corner. A stunning strike. Shortly after, some luck did fall on our plate, Lacazette couldn’t beat a shirt tug whilst tussling for a corner, he swiped at the ball with his hand pushing it to Auba to tap in at the back post. A wrong made a right.
Sadly we were unable to preserve the lead. The team went into a bit of a panic and lost control of the game. Part of me thinks that a draw might have been a good thing. The pressure of the winning streak is now off, so the players can get back to focusing on the chasing pack.
I think the day was lost on the substitutes. Emery’s luck failed him. He explained Welbeck as a defensive option to counter Palace bringing on Meyer to create chances. In hindsight, that wasn’t a great decision. Aaron Ramsey was kind of hopeless as well. Still, tough to knock a manager who has made some inspired decisions this season, can’t win them all, unfortunately.
I think we have some problems, and our squad certainly doesn’t look that strong. Xhaka as a left back really is a horrible thing to watch. Surely there has to be a better option against Liverpool next week? We’ll get massacred if he has to play. I have even bigger worries when it comes to Lichtsteiner. He’s really struggling with the pace of the league. Part of you is loving the shit-housing, the other part knows that he’s doing that because he can’t keep up. A long-term Bellerin absence could be a real issue for us.
It was also a worry to see Ozil back to his absolute most anonymous. He was rightly pulled on 70 by the manager and refused to shake his hand when offered. Emery didn’t seem too fussed.
“Every player wants to continue playing,”
“I like the players who show character.”
“He was not happy because the result was not good at the end.”
I don’t understand how you can go from such a dominant performance to an absolute stinker in 6 days. Maybe it really is his poor fitness? Maybe he’s just really inconsistent? Whatever it is, we need him back to elite sharpness for the Liverpool game next week.
Still, back to the positives. We took 22 points from 24 in our last 8 games. Set that against previous title winning seasons (cheers, Redtruth) and you have to be pretty damn pleased.
First 10 games of 2001-2 season:
Arsenal: 19 points
First 10 games of Invincible season:
Arsenal: 24 points
I’m not saying we’re going to win the title, but it shows we’ve come a long way, and it shows how intense competition is this year.
Right, let’s see you in the comments!