Arsene-’I didn’t recognise my team today’. Neither did we Le Boss!
“I believe that today’s game was an exception – until today we had very, very good games. I didn’t recognize my team today and we have to sit down together to analyze what happened. Something is unexplainable in such a poor performance. It is always difficult to [sense it before the game] but something was not right and it is unusual to see a team as flat as we were today”.
Those were Arsene’s words in his press conference after the disaster of a result we got on Saturday. We lost to West Brom at home, our first home loss since January I think. We conceded 3 goals in total to Liverpool, Blackburn and Sunderland, yet we conceded 3 goals to West Brom in a single home game. Funny stats eh? While I am not one of those fickle fans who start raining abuses on the team and the manager after every loss, it’s only fair that I criticize and praise them when necessary.
Almunia had a game to forget, conceding 3 goals from 5 shots, including a penalty at his goal. This is an awful record for any goalie at any level. Yes, he saved a penalty, but he would not have had to do that had he not felled Odemwingie in the box. He saved a weak penalty and redeemed himself, fair enough. The first goal was not his fault but his role in the other two goals left a lot to be desired. He spilled a shot in his near post for the second goal and misjudged the speed of the ball by rushing out and not getting to the ball before the West Brom attacker. Almunia is a good goalkeeper but whether he’s good enough for Arsenal is another issue entirely.
Arsenal’s three man midfield is such that Song is the out and out defensive midfielder, Cesc is the creative forward going on with the least defensive duties of the three if you will, and the guy in the middle is the one who sort of balances the team, he helps fly into tackles and also helps in the ball distribution. So far this season, that has been Wilshere and he has done a fantastic job. I mean he comes back and retrieves the ball from Song or the back four and finds our captain who pushes much further forward preventing him from having to track back so deep. Now, in this game Song played his usual role and Nasri was meant to play Cesc’s role with Diaby playing Wilshere’s. MISTAKE!
For starters, Diaby does not have half the vision that Wilshere has, which is why he holds the ball so much till he can see the pass that has at that point become too obvious. He also cannot match Wilshere’s usual hustling on the pitch, trying to win balls and such, for some odd reason, was not there. The implication? Nasri has to come all the way back to get the ball and in the alternative, Song has to push up more than normal. The defence suffers as there’s no proper cover for our CBs and no proper distributor for the attack, which means Sagna and Clichy have to move forward just a little bit than they’ve had to this season. This is why West Brom’s goals came from the wings; the third maybe because we were 2 goals down and needed to push up obviously. It gets worse because the fact that Diaby is on the pitch means he is getting in the way of other players. He occupies so much space but he’s still ineffective.
Only reason Chamakh didn’t have such a bad game is because he comes to the midfield to try and collect the ball anyway, he doesn’t really wait to be “fed”. Eboue also had a rather below par game but look at what happened as soon as Wilshere and Rosicky came on, Nasri was free to fly, to devastating effect and then create the missing link, Arshavin was duly supported, Rosicky also played his part. But there are a few questions for me; why did Wenger not make those changes sooner? I understand he probably wanted to rotate and give Wilshere a rest, especially after our game with those Hot-Suds…whoopsh!!! Spurs, same with Rosicky but obviously, it wasn’t working out, so why wait till the game is dead before doing the right thing?
Is this the team we plan to take to Stamford Bridge next weekend? Let’s just hope I sincerely have to be at work, because it’s going to be a mauling if we go to Chelsea with the same attitude. However, stranger things have occurred in football, and unless we can do the unexpected by grabbing a win to make up for the unexpected loss to West Brom, we are effectively 7 points adrift.
Is that the League trophy I see sailing further away? It’s still early days anyways. I wonder what team we’ll be putting out for the Champions League tomorrow.
Keep the faith gooners, that’s what we are fans for, right? Let’s start with the annihilation of Partizan tomorrow.
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
Ita says so!