So here we are again, another 0-0 draw, player(s) edging closer to the exit door and no strong rumours of any players making their way to the club.
Kicking off at Stoke on Sunday, I was actually satisfied with a point. Note I said satisfied with a point versus happy not scoring any goals. Stoke has never been an easy place for us to go; they hate us, we hate them and I hate Stoke more than both those put together. Stoke are our nightmare team, big powerful, love a set play and did I mention they hate us?
We controlled the game well, I really enjoyed watching us close down Stoke from the front, forcing errors and a regular turnover of possession that prevented Stoke from building up a head of steam (long balls) thus also silencing the crowd. However, controlling possession is all well and good but it really does mean nothing if you don’t create any chances that will allow you to win the game. I wouldn’t be as concerned if we’d miss chances as my sentiment would have been ‘next time will take a chance or two but at least we’re creating them’. For the first time I’m actually worried about the lack of creative edge in the team. If the chances had fallen to Giroud or Poldi then we could ask for patience but we’re struggle put anything up there for them to attack. Don’t get me wrong but Cazorla has been all that and more but time for Gervinho and others need to step up now.
Ok that’s the frustration out the way, onto the encouraging part of the performance, our defensive performance. I’ve never seen Arsenal stand up to and dare I say it, ‘get in the faces’ of Stokes players quite like they did on Sunday. The forward line pushed their defenders into mistakes, we pressed in midfield to stop the threat of direct balls and this relieved pressure on our defenders and stand in keeper, Vito. We prevented Zero corners (I won’t go into how many we wasted), we handled every long ball well and for once I felt calm about how were performed defensively. How? Why? It’s simple for me, the Steve Bould effect. From the reports about how and why Song left, Bouldy doesn’t suffer fools; he’s a strict disciplinarian who will ensure the old George Graham School of defending is passed onto this slack defence. We might have not scored any goals but a year ago we shipped 8 goals at Old Trafford.
Next up is a crunch tie at Anfield. Liverpool have suffered from defensive errors and have scored two great goals from set pieces. Neither Arsenal or Liverpool have picked up 3 points this season so you’ve got to believe something will have to give.
An interesting fact I found out the other day which slightly worried me is that Arsenal are yet to win a game in the last 3 transfer windows, that’s now a total of 8 games. Coincidence? I’d like to think so but this speaks volumes about the lack of stability at the club during periods where squad rotation is a real possibility. The club’s lack of cohesion around the future of players and the direction on the field come to a fore during this time and it having a direct affect on the team. I could be reading way too much into this but 8 games?
I seriously can not wait for Friday when the transfer window shuts. Last night there were rumours flying around about Theo rejecting a new contract, more instability before Friday? You bet.
Lastly, I made a promise to myself about not discussing transfer rumours to the club on my column as I didn’t want to be another one of those bloggers that pedal’s sh*t to get hits. I let myself down with all the Sahin goings on didn’t I?!
Have a good day all; bring on the close of the window and Sunday!
Come on The Arsenal.