Today is “one of those days”… a typical Monday after a great Monday last week. For every great victory, for every outstanding performance, there is a dire, dire one, just round the corner. For every victory against Barcelona, there is a loss against Birmingham… for every win against Man United, there is a loss to Stoke or Bolton just round the corner. All three goals on the weekend came from “naive” and basically stupid defending.
In fact, if you look at most of our goals conceded, the majority have come from defensive mistakes and / or goalkeeping errors this season. The team does a decent defensive job, but individual mistakes cost the club many points, and many games. It needs to be addressed this summer, with a proper player or two coming in to do a job. As much as I love the emerging talents of Djourou and Koscielny, their both inexperienced and both learning their trade.
Over the weekend, it was revealed that Chris Samba was close to joining us in the January transfer window – apparently the move was blocked by Blackburn. If that was the case, then Arsene obviously knew we needed the experience of a Premiership defender, but failed to strengthen the team. It makes it worse when all the fans, the pundits and even the manager know we need to strengthen defensively and yet we don’t fix the known issue. I work in IT software development and if there is a bug of some sort in the software, then you get your best men on the case to fix it. You don’t sit there and defend it and play it down… Arsene needs to act this summer to add some men to this group, otherwise we simply won’t win anything in the foreseeable future.
The weekend’s team was the same one that lined up against Man United:
Sagna – Djourou – Koscielny – Gibbs
Wilshere – Song
Walcott – Ramsey – Arshavin
With a bench of Lehmann, Eboue, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Rosicky, Bendtner, Chamakh
If you look at the bench, it’s not that impressive. Rosicky is on his last legs, and both Chamakh and Bendtner are proving more and more inept and their contributions to changing games has really diminished this season. Eboue is just too random for the team, Squillaci is definitely a liability and Lehmann stop gap period is nearly over. Look further afield, then you’ve got the likes of Denilson (who Arsene seems to have permanently dropped), Diaby, who is probably the most injury prone player in the Premiership and then on-loan Vela who looks a third of the player Hernandez is… Which leaves our main eleven (Cesc, Vermaelen, Nasri aside), as the best we have… and if the best we have can’t win against teams outside of the top 6, such as Bolton and Stoke, then we’ve got serious problems…
Arsene was quite upset – you can see he feels let down.
Yes, it was a disappointing performance. The competitive level of Stoke was higher than ours. I think we lost the game because Stoke defended much better than we did and with much more purpose. That’s the Premier League. If you do not turn up with the same competitive spirit in every game you can lose games everywhere. Stoke defend well and make it difficult for you. The most important thing here is not to be 1-0 down and with the first free kick we were 1-0 down. In a game like that, we did not penetrate enough. At the end of the day we were not dangerous enough. We [have] conceded, I think, 21 from set-pieces and only 17 in open play. Less than anybody else in open play [but] we have been caught on set-pieces. Today, [Kenwyne] Jones didn’t even need to jump to head the ball in. That is something we have to correct. It is the easiest thing to correct in the game but you still must understand the flight of the ball and want to be first to the ball. I feel we are sometimes a bit naïve.
Something that the papers have picked up on more than it probably should have is the following statement:
This team has done well overall this season. This is not the best moment to analyse [the season] after a disappointing game. If you analyse all the competitions and how we have done, we have done well. Something has gone [and] you could see that today. We have to take a distance and make the right analysis of the season.
Most of the tabloids and online press say “Arsene plans major revamp of squad”, “Arsene to buy defenders”, “Arsenal wants clear out”… and when you read the article, they put this down to the fact that Arsene said “something has gone”… I don’t think he meant it as a major squad issue but he meant it as an end of season, post Man United overview.
It’s hard to discuss these inept performances, when your team doesn’t show up, and beaten by team that (with no disrespect), you should beat. It’s painful, and the manager is probably feeling more pain than anyone.
“I believe to play football is a privilege and to play for Arsenal is an even bigger privilege so that is not acceptable.
Our focus now is to cling on to 3rd spot by he skin of our teeth. If Man City beat Sp*rs tomorrow, it’s going to be a nervous few days.
Til tomorrow my friends, til tomorrow…