“I remember when – without being disrespectful – I first arrived here, there were some games when I was thinking less about whether we would win or not and more about who would score for us and how many we would get.
“There were some games like that in my first couple of years, but those days are 100% finished because the so-called smaller teams have improved so much.
“That QPR game was a wake-up call for us.”
Robin Van Persie – 10th April.
I really thought writing my blog with a negative tone was a thing of the recent past, oh how naïve I was.
After the QPR game I wrote my column with a glass half empty half full analogy. While frustrated at the result (and paying £50 for the ticket!) I reflected on the positives of a strong run of form with 7 wins in 8 games. Unfortunately I can’t share the same sentiment today after Monday night’s result against Wigan.
The confidence before the game was tangible and why not, Wigan had never scored a goal at the Grove let alone got a point. However, good friend @Palerme12 and I discussed the role fans play in the complacent approach off the pitch by enjoying songs and quips about ‘Mind the Gap’ etc. If as fans were getting a bit ahead of ourselves, how can we then have a go a when things go badly?
I’m sure I don’t really need to dissect the game as we will have seen and read enough since Monday, so here is a quick summary.
After a bright 5mins and a couple of chances Arsenal got hit twice on the break in 2mins while Arteta was off the pitch injured. Both goals seemed too easy, Wigan cut through our non existent and sloppy defence to stun the home crowd. While stunned we were confident we could get back into the game, and we did in the 22nd. Rosicky, the only player who comes out with any praise, whipped in a deadly ball which Vermaelen headed home.
Arsenal created half chances but went in at half time level. Unfortunately we had little to offer in the second half, a Santos shot is the only chance I can really remember. We threw Gervinho and the Ox on but we got little change from a well organised and drilled Wigan defence. If anything Wigan created the better chances in the second half, one in particular from a simple throw on that cut our defence wide open only for the very impressive Victor Moses to rush his shot. In the end Arsenal lost and deservedly so. Many have complained about time wasting tactics etc, what would you do if you were in the bottom 5, playing at Arsenal and leading? All is fair in love and war.
So where did it all go wrong, were we complacent? No, not this time for me. If anything the feeling I had in the ground and when I look back on the game is a team who hit the panic button for 80mins.
Going two goals down in 7mins stunned the team but losing Arteta ruined our set up. Ramsey came on and suddenly we had three central midfielders who wanted to push forward thus leaving gaps in behind exposing the defence.
Even though we got a vital goal, Arsenal never settled down and played the game that has served them well in recent months. We were too eager to get forward and played a pass too quickly or chose the difficult ‘hollywood’ ball. Players were constantly out of position while searching for the equaliser, Vermaelen Santos and Sagna were caught up field, RVP once dropped so far deep he collected a square pass from Vermaelen on the half way line. What frustrated me was that there was no instruction from the bench or at half time to calm things down and ‘out football’ Wigan, instead Pat Rice and the Boss were showing the same panicked emotions as the team. Wigan were happy to defend against this ruffled team and won every header and second ball. A frustrated Arsenal headed down the tunnel a defeated team while the majority of the crowd remaining in the stadium applauded worthy winners Wigan off the pitch. A touch of class even in defeat.
The game, for me, changed when Arteta got injured. Not only was he off the pitch for both goals, we lost our shape as we lost the player who has completed the most passes in the opposition half in the entire league. The calming influence that makes the team tick over was gone and we played like a team who lacked composure rather than suffering from complacency.
There is no official news on Arteta yet but I’d be surprised to see him again this season. With that potentially being the case, who would you play in the middle against Chelsea?
It’s Chelsea up next and we really are determined to do things the hard way. We need Chelsea to go into our game with an eye on their away trip to Nou Camp, so really a score draw would suit us quite nicely tonight.
Unfortunately we’re looking over our shoulder again, bring on Saturday.
Come on The Arsenal! Seriously come on now!