In the end there was an inevitability of Arsenal’s inability to take advantage of the Christmas gifts presented to them after yesterday’s results. I have just arrived back from the game and I can honestly say that result has tarnished my Christmas break.
We went into the game knowing that a win would put us into to fourth given Chelsea and Liverpool drawing at home on Boxing Day. Those that follow me on twitter will have seen my pre-game comments stating that this was by no means a home banker and players like Javis and Fletcher would be a threat.
After a tough few games against Man City and Villa, Le Boss rightly rotated bringing in Rosicky, Yossi and Djourou. The team was:
Szczesny, Mertesacker ,Vermaelen, Koscielny, Djourou, Rosicky, Arteta, Song ,Benayoun,Van Persie, Gervinho
After both teams getting in behind each others defences, Arsenal broke awake from a Wolves attack through Rosicky who brilliantly carried the ball into their half, squared it to Yossi in space who cut the defence open with a ball to Gervinho was beat the keeper and fired it into the net.
A goal in the opening 8 minutes, time to kill the game off early on right? Wrong. We created chances in RVP, Vermaelen and Arteta but Arsenal slowly became more casual / tippy tappy in their play, Wolves picked on these mistakes and eventually got their equaliser during a period of sloppy Arsenal play. A needless corner was headed away but the second ball was picked up by the misspelt Hunt who floated a deflected ball back into the box where Fletcher’s header crept passed Szcz. Much of the crowd screamed for offside but news soon filtered round that Song was strolling out of his right back postion and played Flethcher onside.
Thinking back about the second half right now, it’s a blur of frustration, disbelief and aggression toward Stuar Attwell the referee. I can not remember Szcz having anything to do at all in the second half however it was a different story for his opposite number, Hennessey was continued to have the game of his life. The keeper saved brilliantly from a RVP freekick (twice), Mertesacker point blank header, Vermaelen shot, and a variety of other shots but Arsenal just couldn’t stick the ball into the net.
It was not only the Wolves keeper in the spotlight but Stuart Attwell wanted to make sure everyone knew his name on the way home too. Simply put, the referee lost total control of the second half and this affected both teams. A few of his moments:
- Incorrectly positioning a wall for a free kick then trotting back demanding Arteta to hurry up and take it only to be told by RVP to get out the way as he was taking it.
- Penalty incident number 1 – A very obvious handball and booking Veraemlen for protesting.
- Penalty incident number 2 – The Wolves players hauls down RVP preventing him getting near the ball from a corner. Ref is in line and gives nothing
- I’ve not seen the replay but it looked like the ball spun away from Milijas who then took ball and man trying to win it back, the ref saw it has a red card, Harsh.
- 3 subs in a minute. Instead of demanding all happen at once, the ref stopped and started the game 3 times in order of the subs to happen. Both sets of players and benches were furious.
We threw everything we had at Wolves but in the end they held on for their first ever premiership point at Arsenal.
With 17th shots on target there is a fine line between being unlucky and poor finishing but tonight we’ve got to be fair sportsman and credit Hennessey for his top keeping.
Wenger was also in reflective mood after:
It is frustrating but I am more frustrated by the result than the performance and the spirit. You cannot fault the attitude or the commitment or the desire to win the game. We missed a great opportunity but we just have to keep going and take the positives out of the game today.
Their keeper had a good performance, they saved a few on the line, they did fight like mad. It was more important for us to go in 1-0 up at half-time because I know with the way they defend they would not survive like that for 90 minutes and we would have much more space in which to play. At some stage they would have had to come out. But I felt we lost our way a bit between 30 and 40 minutes and on that occasion we were caught. The only thing we can learn today is to keep the spirit and when you’re 1-0 up to keep our level up.
Two massive points dropped at home make no mistake. After the hard work at Villa Park we should have finished the job off in the first half. Instead we took our foot off the pedal and became worryingly complacent. However, this is nothing new; we’ve seen Arsenal teams of recent years do exactly the same.
If the newspaper reports are true and Le Boss is giving himself a week to decide whether to sign Henry or others, then surely this result should make his mind up. Do you think the Wolves defence were at all intimidated or worried at the sight of Chamakh coming on? I very much doubt it. We crossed in ball after ball in the final 15mins without ever looking like we were going to score. If Bendtner was coming on, maybe a different story.
A worrying stat I also read yesterday was that Arsenal have only scored 19 goals in their last 15 home premiership matches and have only scored more that once 4 times in that run. For a team known for their attacking football that is a very worrying stat.
The good news is we don’t have to wait long to right our wrongs, QPR (with Barton and Warnock) are up next on Saturday.
Enjoy your Wednesday Gooners.
Feedback welcome – @Tottz82