The catalyst? We’ll see.

 Morning Gooners,

At 1645 on Sunday afternoon, the last thing I wanted to do was write this blog. With the amount of negativity surrounding this club, this team and our manager; going out of the club was unthinkable. However the team and the manager were not finished yet and the produced a comeback even the most positive me couldn’t even have believed.

Calling it a turning point would be too easy and lazy. Calling it a potential catalyst is fair but whether this is the pivotal moment for the season we will only find out in May. The first half on Sunday was unfortunately all too familiar. The team lacked drive, creativity and were lacklustre in their general approach. Villa scored their goals through a clever corner routine and a lightening breakaway goal. The mood at half time had gone beyond anger and the faces in the crowd were etched with the resignation of, ‘we’re out the cup’. Even though I was shown on the big screen indicating a 3-2 score line with my fingers, I didn’t truly believe this team had what would it took to turn it around. I reminisced about that match at Highbury in 2001 where we turned around a 2-0 deficit to Villa in their silver shirts, but that team had Henry, Vieira, Bobby, Wiltord and Freddie; they knew how turn games like this around. This team didn’t.

Ye of little faith.

The team responded with the fight every fan would have wanted them too, and with a little help from Villa, we pulled off a fantastic cup comeback. I’m not going to re-cap all the events of Sunday but two things caught my attention.

Firstly, Arsenal pressure on Villa in possession in the second half. Too often we are prepared to let teams have the ball and play a game of ‘you play, we’ll play’. Unfortunately the opposition rarely enjoy playing that game as they end up losing the match, so instead they suffocate us into our own mistake leading to goals. Incidentally we have conceded the highest number of goals through ‘unforced errors’ in the league.  However, in the second half we closed down and pressured Villa all over the pitch and were able to force mistakes, allowing us to turnover possession. If you’ve ever watched Barcelona you will have noticed them pressure the opposition all over the pitch in order to regain possession. It works, no player likes to be chased down and harassed for the ball. We need to continue that kind of work rate in other games, not wait until we’re losing to increase our pressure.

The knock on effect of the players increasing their work rate to stifle the opposition is that the crowd react to it and want to get behind their team. The atmosphere in the second half was the best it’s been for a short while. It was apparent that the players were feeding off it as must as the fans were driving the team. Amazing what happens when we all pull together in one direction isn’t it?

Next up Bolton away, this is now a massive fixture. Results last night mean only a win will do, unfortunately I’ve said that for every game on 2012 so far. Win’s for Liverpool and Tottnum, a draw for Chelsea mean we currently sit 5th but with 4th place still firmly in our sights.

With a number of returning players, we are slowly getting back to our ideal first team. Sagna is back, Arteta is back, Gibbs in back in full training, Diaby is expected back from rehab work soon and Henry is ‘ready’. Bad news continues to loom about Wilshere but we need to forget about that and get back to winning performances.

In Bolton’s last league game they defeated Liverpool, they won’t be pushovers so we’ll need ‘second half’ Arsenal from the first minute.

Come on The Arsenal!


Comments welcome – @Tottz82

  • Berth

    We are 6th not 5th

  • robin

    Diaby coming back LOL – that is excellent. Don’t know whether that’s a good thing or bad h

  • robin

    If we lose at the Reebok, could that be the end of Wenger?

    Almost wishful thinking (new management, not losing to Bolton) but one has to think things are reaching the boiling point and a loss against a relegation contender – after losses to Fulham, Swansea and United – must surely make the board have a think?

    I might also be delusional Rolling Eyes After all, what club would sack a manager after their worst start in 50 years, 7 years without a trophy, and their local rivals surpassing them in spades?

  • robin

    last week one poster made the point on here that if wilshere’s setback is worse than we all thought and he’ll miss the season,the news won’t be released until after the deadline passes so that wenger can’t be further pressured into…..when news of the injury came up at first wenger refused to put a date on his return.fair enough.lets be cautious.the next day we hear the setback is not too bad and he doesnt need a protective boot.great news.However!…….the deadline passes and now the mornings papers are full of news about how jack has indeed suffered another stress fracture in the same foot and will almost certainly miss the rest of the season.forgive my cynical tone but this is total crap!i would put my mortgage on the fact that the club knew jack was crocked again.this has just made our lack of decent signings even more pathetic.yet another solid performance from the medical team at AFC!

  • sistable

    Day by day Wenger’s praise of RVP is sounding like a broken record. Just reminds me off the time when he was deprate to keep hold of Henry and the many others that had gone before and after him. Bolton winning tonight will be another nail in the coffin for this manager that has completely lost the dressing rooom. I mean RVp had to do the HT team talk – really i mean WTF. RVP will have one look around him and see the dross that he has to carry week in week out and like Cesc he’ll realise there is no hope in hell this team to win anything.

  • arsefan101

    We are on the knife edge – a win tonight and saturday and the fans and club survive and get closer to fourth.

    But imagine if we lose tonight? The wrath of the fans? So far away from 4th…

    It’s a very sharp knife edge.

  • KTbird

    woop woop

  • lance

    “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

  • bergChamp

    Tonights Line Up?

    Sagna – Metersacker – Koscielny – Vermaelen
    Arteta – Song
    Walcott – Ramsey – Oxlade
    Van Persie

    Does that make sense?

  • Leroy

    I know there is a lot of negativity towards Arsene and the board and rightly so. I don’t class myself as an apologist or an AKB.. but there’s not much else we should be doing than getting behind the team tonight, as Im sure most who are going will do, as usual.

    Better get going.. see you in The Beehive… or McDonalds

  • bergChamp

    @ Leroy:
    Here Here – Hear Hear!

    Time for a Bolton thrashing – although the Reebok is never easy!

  • lance

    I watched the game today, we play good, well drilled pass and move high tempo football. Its the philosophy Wenger put forward and has achieved. The problem is its so predictable, there’s no creativity, no drive or urgency! The only time i get excited is when OX is on the ball, he looks lively, creative, dangerous, when everyone else is on the ball i just slump back into me chair. OX has that drive the real winner attitude which i dont see in any of the other players. This is something that specifically Walcott lacks and is why i believe he will never reach his potential (i hope im wrong). The one on one he missed today was pathetic! No need to mention RVP quality as per usual. I’ve defended wenger in my posts but, as the season goes on my mind is starting to change more and more. Something needs to be changed now or dare i say it wenger out

  • Leroy

    Our league form this season is: W11, D4, L8. That’s mid-table form and Arsenal sit this morning in 7th position. Behind Liverpool. Behind Newcastle. In all competitions this season we have lost 11 times. Each one of those defeats came before the January window closed, and if that’s not evidence that this was a squad that needed something adding to it beyond the emotional but mostly ineffective return of a former legend, I don’t know what is.

    We can listen to Ivan Gazidis talk all day about our business model and how successful it is. Which is great. Except for the fact that our footballing model is failing, nobody seems to be doing anything about it and nobody seems to be accountable for it. And I think what frustrates me most is that for most of these trophy-less years there’s been a sense that if we could just add a couple of quality players to the mix we’d have a side capable of competing for the league each season.

    Now it looks as if it’d take a lot more than one or two and that’s a measure of how difficult our task is going to be for the reason of the season. We’ve taken just 8 points from our last 8 league games. We have yet to win a league game in 2012. We’ve been overtaken in the league by Newcastle and Liverpool, teams who I think we can objectively look at as average, at best. Which, if we remain objective, tell us a lot about ourselves.

    I said yesterday that not strengthening in January and results being affected by that would provide people with a stick with which to beat Arsene, Ivan and our silent owner with.

    I suspect for many, whacking day is upon us.