Third Chance For Third…?

What a weekend of football it has been… Weekends like these, although good for the neutral, are hell for Gooners. Down at the Emirates with a whole host of friends, soaking up the atmosphere and ready to roll at 12.45 yesterday. The atmosphere was nervous, but confident. The line up was announced, and it was the same as last week, with Benayoun and Gervinho both starting on the wings:

Szcznesy

Sagna – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Gibbs

Ramsey – Song

Gervinho – Rosicky – Benayoun

Van Persie

My seat was in the North Bank, upper tier, behind the goal and it was a good view of the entire pitch.

 

 

And what a great start it was to see Benayoun score in the first minute. No doubt about it, the Israeli was a decent acquisition last Summer. Someone who can compliment the squad. We won’t have him next season, and hopefully we’ll have recruited the world class winger that we all want. But nevertheless, it was a great goal from the Israeli and our nerves were settled.

But then… Aaron Ramsey went nuts. Yes, it wasn’t only his fault – but he was so poor, positionally, next to Alex Song he was non existent. If I had to contribute a bad performance to any player during one game, this was the game, and he was the player. But Arsene didn’t really have a choice with Wilshere, Arteta and Diaby all out injured. But I doubt Arsene thought it was going to be that bad. When you watch the game for the first time, you can instantly see how poor Ramsey was, but it made Song look bad too. He was covering two positions, and it was just too much for one person.

We lost the first goal to a complete lack of midfield and really, we should have had more sense. It didn’t help that our vice captain Thomas Vermaelen decided to run up the field and leave Koscielny and Gibbs to deal with the Norwich striker force and midfield. For me, it was a nervous performance and one that lacked cohesion. Norwich looked like the Arsenal of old, and we looked like the Norwich out of the Championship.

Van Persie came to the rescue and turned 2-1 into 3-2 but even he missed a plethora of chances. At 3-2 up, we lost composure, and instead of keeping the ball, we panicked and before we knew it, it was 3-3.

Arsene spoke after the game, a very disappointed manager, but also acknowledged Aaron Ramsey’s bad performance:

He was unlucky with the first booking, it was a good tackle. It is part of learning your job, you have to deal with all kinds of situations and he will do that. He is very strong mentally and is going through a difficult period at the moment. But he will come off that stronger.

Arsene did go on to talk about how 3rd was no longer in our hands… but thanks to the sensational results today, where Aston Villa head Sp*rs and Newcastle lost at home to Man City, we’re still in 3rd. Something I really didn’t think would happen this time yesterday. It’s back in our hands and we have one game, a game in which we need to win, a game where a win would mean Champions League football, but anything but a win and it’s the Europa League.

Today my facebook status reads:

Dear Arsenal,

After a poor start to the season, you’ve shown me that you’re actually a decent side. It’s not been pretty all season, and I 8 – 2 say it but we’ve had some bad moments. We’ve also had some excellent moments (AFC 5 – 2 THFC, CFC 3 – 5 AFC)… but after our amazing March, you’ve lost it big time with 3 draws and a loss in the last 4. Sp*rs and Newcastle should have sped past us, butit comes down to the last game of the season. We’re 3rd. All we have to do is win. Win against West Brom and bingo, Champions League next season. We’ve got another chance. It’s a serious chance. Stand up, be counted, make it happen, and keep our talisman, Robin Van Persie… 1 game, 3 points. Fix up, look sharp. Til next weekend…

Regards,

Dev

Basically next weekend is a Champions League qualifier – one game – one win. The question is whether we can sort out the defensive frailties of the weekend and get the goals we’ll need to win. It was interesting how we ended the game, with AOC on the right, Gervinho on the left and Chamakh and Van Persie in the middle. We looked so dangerous.

I really do hope we can use AOC next weekend from the beginning as he really did make a difference. I prefer him on the wing right now – I know Arsene says he can play down the middle, but so can half the other team. Without Walcott, AOC really can bring some pace and precision to the right side. He linked up very well with Coquelin, who stepped in for the injured Sagna and looked very good.

Next weekend sounds like an eternity away now, but right now, we need to focus, prepare and get ready for the biggest game of our season.

Til tomorrow fellow Gooners, keep calm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Good summation Devday……..what a rollercaoster ride this season has been! We have been missing Wilshere all season but Arteta,Rosicky and Song were a revelation, we have needed a backup for RVP but what a player he has turned into and we have had our usual injury decimation but had you asked me in October if I’d be happy with 3rd and CL qualification I’d have bitten your hand off to get the offer!!!!
    I was optimistic at the beginning of this season and feel that with Wilshere,Diaby and Arteta staying fit, we’d have ended this season with a great deal less stress…but that’s Football. Thank God our competitors are even more incompetent…I mean the Barcodes lose and the Spuds tie, despite Arry saying they can still catch Arsenal…what a clown! hope he’s proven wrong once again and St.Totteringham’s day comes on the last game of the season.

  • prime

    please NO ramsey on west brom match..he so poor at the moment…

  • ArseBum

    Excellent article Dev!

    It’s all down to this weekend’s game now. The BIG ONE! WBA!

  • SpeedDemon

    West Brom away – Roy Hodgson’s last game in charge and our last chance to finish 3rd. We’ve had the luck with the Sp*rs result. And now we have to win. No question.

    3rd = guaranteed CL football = ability to plan this summer.

  • CON-MAN

    cracking review as per Dev, shame you didnt mention about the last minute penalty we could have had? Watching it again on MOTD I’m surprised the ref didnt give it, because clearly RVP was going to score.

    Reading that Ramsey played poor does not surprise me one bit- I think hes been pretty poor all season and its a shame Diaby/Arteta/Wilshere are not fit but hopefully Coquelin can start ahead of him

    Also RVP’s 1st goal-how many times have we seen Song just chip it in for RVP to finish? Love Song

    you’ve all summed it up quite well about our game with WBA- literally I was so disgusted after saturday I thought we’d blown it

  • lance

    Well, well, well. Somebody up there clearly likes us. I’ve read elsewhere, Goodplaya expresses it well, the argument that perhaps a lower finish might wake things up, change our outlook and so on. For me, however, I don’t know that finishing 5th would make any real difference other than make our lives a lot more difficult, both in terms of attracting players and keeping ones we want to keep, not to mention the financial hit we’d take.

    People point to Newcastle this season as an example of how you can bring in quality players despite not being in the Champions League. The difference for me is that Newcastle were a team from whom nothing much was expected this season. If they’d finished mid-table nobody would have raised an eyebrow in the slightest, so while their season has been excellent, and credit to them for it, the way they did business last summer would be very different from the way we’d have to do it this time around.

    And the bottom line is that I always want Arsenal to win. Beating West Brom and finishing in third won’t just paper over the cracks and allow the status quo to continue – it will provide us with the best opportunity to do something about it. The frustration and anger that has been felt this season has hardly gone unnoticed, because that frustration and anger has reflected events on the pitch.

    It is blindingly obvious that we need to do something about the problems we have with the team. Having Champions League football to attract better players is a far better platform than the inevitable and horrendous summer we’ll face if we’re in the Europa League or not in Europe at all. I don’t think there’s any need for a short, sharp shock to the system, we’re feeling it already. If the club aren’t a) scared shitless about finishing outside the CL places and b) determined to improve things if and when we do finish in third then we can be very worried indeed.

    This whole season has been a wake-up call, from the slipshod way we let last summer impact on the entirety of this campaign, to the way the team plays, the way we’re reliant on one man to score our goals and how our defensive issues and individual errors have cost us points time and time again. I really don’t think we need anything else to tell us we’ve got problems and the club has to work cohesively to solve them.

    Already we’ve seen a signing made before the season ends, one the manager admits will take the burden off Robin van Persie when it comes to scoring goals. We know there will be a new number 2 for the season ahead when Pat Rice hangs his shorts up after West Brom on Sunday. Perhaps that will bring something new to the set-up, especially from a defensive point of view, but while those things can make us very, very cautiously optimistic, there’s still a lot of work to do.