Norwich 1 – 0 Arsenal: Wenger: “The gap at the top is unpleasant.”

In football, people say they are no such things as easy games. For Arsenal, I’d have to agree that is the case. Norwich away from home was simply – by fans and by the players – underestimated. On twitter and facebook prior to the game, all the talk was about how much we’d beat Norwich by. People talking about winning 4-0, 6-0… we thought it would be a walk in the park. The players obviously thought that too, and the 1-0 loss is exactly what we deserved.

We’re 10 points behind Chelsea and in reality, we’re throwing it all away. Our form in the Premiership is bad, very bad. 8 games in and 12 points is surely worse than last year (someone please let me know!)…

As an Arsenal fan, it was plain and simple to see – we gave away yesterday’s game completely – don’t get me wrong, Norwich played well, but we didn’t show up, we didn’t play well and we just mentally were not there. Arsene spoke outside of the game and acknowledged that things are going wrong. Injuries are piling up… and we are not taking the Premiership seriously:

“The gap at the top is unpleasant. We had an opportunity to close the gap but we didn’t. It does worry me but what is more disappointing is we didn’t score.”

“We will wait until we see how players are when they come back. We did not create enough that is for sure”

“It was a poor collective offensive performance, although we have scored goals up until now.

“I believe we have to face the reality of the Premier League and if you are not ready from kick-off then you have no chance”

“What can I do now? I am angry because we have not created very much. ”

“There was always something missing – defensively we were not at our usual level.”

Those are some upset, angry and questionable quotes from Arsene. Sometimes he defends the team, but sometimes he has to lay into them because, without a shadow of a doubt, the performance we saw yesterday is not acceptable at our club. It did have the potential to be a bogey fixture, being straight after the international fixtures, and we suffered two casualties in the break, with Koscielny and Walcott missing through injury. Throw in Diaby, Sagna, Rosicky, Fabianski, Szcznesy and Gibbs and we’re slightly lighter than we’d like to have been.

BUT… we did start a lineup that include a whole host of great players. On paper, none of us thought the XI wouldn’t be good enough…

Mannone

Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Santos

Arteta – Ramsey

Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski

Giroud

With a bench of Martinez, Djourou, Coquelin, Arshavin, Gnarby, Oxlade and the eagerly awaited return of Jack Wilshere

Yes, we had the majority of the squad away in international duty, but these players are all top top quality players who should be able to beat a Norwich side who were languishing at the bottom of the table. No matter what, this team is good enough to win. But the battle is sometimes psychological… and we failed.

The problem sometimes does become the scoreline. As I talked about yesterday, we do prefer away games, because the home team will attack and give us space, but if we lose a goal to them, it changes everything. Yesterday there were two main problems:

  1. We didn’t close down in midfield
  2. Our goalkeeping was very very bad

So let’s look at the first issue – The Arteta – Ramsey – Cazorla combination. It’s very attacking, that’s true, although we didn’t really get going in the attacking third. But it can’t compete with proper midfielders – what I mean by that is that they are three luxury midfielders – just imagine Chelsea playing Oscar, Mata, Hazard with three strikers, it would be footballing suicide. Just imagine Man United playing with a central hub of Kagawa, Nani and Young… it wouldn’t be able to compete with proper midfielders, that’s for sure.

We miss Diaby – in fact, since he got injured against Chelsea, we’ve looked a shadow of our former self. Arteta is trying, but it’s not natural for Ramsey to defend. Personally, it’s Arteta along side either Diaby, Wilshere or Coquelin. Ramsey in that position won’t work – he can only really play where Cazorla plays. We have options, but if we use them in the wrong places, then we only cause ourselves problems.

And then over to the goalkeeping situation. Szcznesy is injured, Fabianski is injured and therefore, we have Mannone in goal. He has been solely responsible for a few goals conceded this season, but yesterday, it was completely down to him. Firstly, he parried a shot that should of been handled, and then secondly, he didn’t get up to even attempt to get the ball or block the rebound in a timely manner. Yes, he’s our 3rd choice, but he needs to be better. It’s unlikely United will lose De Gea and Lindeegard both at the same time for large periods, so yes we are unfortunate. But this is basic goalkeeping and basic mistakes.

But in life and football, you will concede goals, and it’s up to score them to ensure we win games. The team just didn’t have the something something about them up front that they needed and that’s worrying. Gervinho is regressing, and it’s not a good sight to watch. Arsene – this is where you show what a great manager you are. Fix this quickly, chose the right players and get back on the training ground. 12 points from 8 games is simply not good enough.

Arsene said after the game that they deserved to win, and that’s the biggest condemnation of your own team:

“I hope it will have a positive impact. It was a shock to the system today. But you have to give credit to Norwich today. They played well, were completely committed and they deserved the win. Maybe we underrated the difficulty we would face. But the Premier League is the Premier League. If you are not ready for the fight then you will always have bad surprises. There is a big difference between the amount of possession we had and the amount of chances we created. That is down to the fact that Norwich defended well and we did not create a lot.”

We go into an important week where we play in form Schalke at home on Wednesday followed by another home fixture to QPR – two very vital games. Winning both will give us confidence, but turning up will not win us those games. We need to work hard in the next few days to ensure we’re back and on form and capable of beating them in front of our 60,000 fans…

We’re in a precarious position now… let’s try and push on for our next two home games and see where that takes us… until tomorrow amigos, until tomorrow.

 

 

 

  • Chezzer

    Great blog today. I don’t think it was that bad – yes we were below par, but we did have 15 players away and Norwich had none from their starting line up. We don’t play well at 5.30 kick offs, in fact, it doesn’t surprise me. We have two home games and we need to win them both.

  • worldofarsenal

    Just watching the highlights again – Mannone does not inspire me with confidence at all. But kudos to Arteta who played so well considering. Trying absolutely everything. Definitely think he needs one of Diaby, Jack or Coquelin next to him though.

  • worldofarsenal

    Thanks, we need to be better though. Chelsea, United & City had lots of players and City had a man down, but they all came back to win. We need to focus better. And of course, we need to get Mannone in for extra practice!

  • ArsenalFan101

    FA Cup draw today… Norwich away and get even!
    But seriously, I’ll take a league two side at home please :-)

  • worldofarsenal

    It’s the FA Cup first round, which means it doesn’t include us… soon though… I think the 3rd round draw is in mid-Nov!!

  • sevin

    We dont have the mettle to compete with the top teams – yes we have had decent results against them but it’s the same ole shoot again….groundhog day…wont change tilll the manager is rid

  • Berth

    The team needs a winning mentality. The only way to achieve that is to support the team with quality players who can aid a quality manager like Wenger; alternatively we could just focus on the small trophies like the Fa or capital to help develop that much needed mentality or better we could do a Dortmund, but to do a Dortmund you have to fight Chelsea, Man u, City, Tottenham and Liverpool.

  • Berth

    But of course the lack of ambition from the board could potentially drive Wenger insane and eventually out – 7 years could easily become 10, the way 4 became 7. We where at a cross road last season or so I thought. However this season its still business as usual, sell two quality players to maximize profit then declare healthy financial profits at the end of a financial year, convince fans the players you brought can do the job, Finish 3rd or 4th and tell the fans that you cannot spend out of your means because you cant – only that the fans are charged so high with the promise of zero trophy and pretty football . We don’t even get the pretty football any more do we?

  • Berth

    We are the Arsenal Dev; we bottle a match when we want.

  • worldofarsenal

    I don’t think it’s a case of removing the manager (although my arguments are waning a little). We have great players, they need to get better. Against Norwich, on paper we should have won.

  • worldofarsenal

    We can be better than we are. It’s been an unfortunate season so far, Szcznesy & Fabianski’s injuries have meant 3rd choice Mannonne is in place and this is affecting us. Diaby’s injury before Jack’s return has also meant Ramsey plays in a position too deep for him. 10 points behind Chelsea means that the title is all but gone. 2nd place, CL & Cups – we need to aim to get there. Somehow.

  • worldofarsenal

    Despite the fact you talk about maximising profit – Arsene has bought big name and big cost players in Gervinho (£12m), Giroud (£12m), Podolski (£11m), Oxlade (£10m) and Cazorla (£17m). Surely the managers transfers have to brought into question. I like Giroud and think he’s going to be good, but surely someone like Jelavic (£6m) and Rolledga (free) could do a job?

  • Berth

    I dont rate Diaby WOD

  • Berth

    The prices you mention are all bargain to me. And Cazorla costing us 17 mill is unofficial.

  • worldofarsenal

    I agree that we’ve got some good buys – but the total of the players above does amount to quite a lot. Could we have spent it better?

  • worldofarsenal

    Diaby is such a talented player. His performance against Liverpool was sublime, but his injury record is horrible. Fingers crossed that we see more of him this season than he sees on the bench.

  • Gunter

    When does Tottz82 blog?

  • Annoyed Gooner

    Why??? We are so much better than Norwich. Why can’t they just play properly!

  • worldofarsenal

    He blogs tomorrow evening and his posts are normally live on Wednesday mornings

  • Only_Arsenal

    Our goalkeeping was very bad on Saturday, but the lose was not all down to Manone alone as there was no power in the attacking, the midfield lacks the free-flowing pass-and-move-on way we all know Arsenal of. Also selection was another huge cause of the lose, Giroud upfront against a defensive play of Norwich was totally unacceptable, I would have prefer Gervinho who can run into defenders and force them to commit errors in the 18 yards box, and then AOC should have started in the place of Ramsey who was not so impressive.

    The team is showing some trait like that of last season – one step forward, two steps backward. Aspiring champions doesn’t lose that way. Such performance is totally unaccepted in our club.

  • Only_Arsenal

    After 8 matches, we are already 10 points behind the leaders – Chelsea. So to do Dortmund, it seems almost impossible as we are not fighting only Chelsea, but United, City, Spurs and Liverpool as well. It will do us a lot of good if we start aiming FA, Capital One, CL spot and then keep the CL performance going and see how far we can go.

  • worldofarsenal

    It does feel like we’re still trying to figure who / where / when to play certain players. I agree, our midfield isn’t balanced with Arteta and Ramsey. It seems to be better when we have one of Diaby or Coquelin in there with either a defensive mind or a physical presence.

    On paper though, the team is better than it performs, so we have to question the desire and motivation of the players too – why didn’t they raise their game and play better? Or is this as good as they could do.

    In regards to the two teams, yes, Norwich are a Premier League side and were rested for two weeks, whereas our team was dismantled and used internationally… however, can that not be said for City, Chelsea, United & Liverpool?

    We need to see a change – either in formation, personnel or attitude, otherwise our season will seriously start to go down hill.

  • Berth

    Spare me the international break WOA – the real deal is Ramsey; he is not playing to his potential, and Wenger am sure is running out of patience with him.

    Secondly when a game is going against you the best way to approach it is by making aggressive changes early on or change tactics early on depending on the quality of the opposition. Wenger always mention playing with handbrake on, however it seems to me he is the one with the handbrake on, he needs to be more fluid, take his hand off the handbrake – after all he is the driver and no one else.

  • Berth

    Spare me the talent. There is a saying talent is nothing without opportunity; how can I rate Diaby when clearly injuries won’t let him show his talent – either Wenger sells the burger and promote Coaq and Frimpong or he buys another CMF considering he sold Song for no reason other than to balance book.

  • Berth

    We bootle a match when we want

  • worldofarsenal

    I can’t really argue with that based on the Norwich game. Personally, I believe the players needed to perform better though!

  • worldofarsenal

    I really hope Diaby recovers soon. I know he’s injury prone now, but whenever he does play, he does show some talent. I used to really dislike him but his performances – especially against Liverpool – have swayed me a lot this season. Let’s see what happens when he is back.

    What do you think of Coquelin?

  • Berth

    Coquelin can be a CMF or DMF – he bring energy to the side but to be fair he hasn’t proved enough to be deemed Song’s replacement or another Flamini. He needs game time just like Gibbs and I hope he along with Frimpong can improve under Bould the way Gibbs has.

    But am not putting my money on him yet, he still has a lot to learn, but if u ask me he brings so much energy and mobility than Ramsey and can certainly replace Jenkinson if we want flexibility going forward in a home match

  • Only_Arsenal

    Truly, the players didn’t perform as expected but then Wenger failed in his own part. At 55 minutes, you see that there was no change in the performance of the players, as a coach, you need to change your tactics and change any player who is not living up to expectation (Ramsey for example) as soon as possible in order to balance the team and better the performance before it get too late. So Wenger have a whole lot of share in what happened at Carrow Road.

  • sevin

    The on going saga with Theo not signing a new deal is beginning to have a
    familiar ring to it. Whereas I might not have cared a year or two ago,
    he has recently shown signs that his finishing is improving. Not sure
    what other fans think but with our lack of pace up front Theo could
    prove to be a huge asset for the rest of the season and equally a huge
    loss if he leaves especially after how pedestrian we were against
    Norwich.

  • sevin

    our own worst enemy is ourselves. we lost that game because
    mannone spilled a sitter. we lost against chelsea despite our goal never
    coming under threat from open play. i put those two goals down to a
    poor lauretn koscilney. this team has inner demons, wenger talks about
    belief, but in the latter stages of crunch matches the players seem more
    fearful of losing rather than a desire for winning. its not a qaulity
    thing, its a cultural thing. if wenger cant change these players
    mindsets then it doesnt matter how much superior we are to the
    opposition. wilshere is diffrent, he isnt like gervinho and rosicky and a
    few other players who feel the pressure. perhaps wenger should send the
    players to a mind doctor, as we fight against ourselves more often tha
    the opposition. no other team self-destructs or loses as much games to
    inferior opposition than we do.

  • worldofarsenal

    I would have to agree… but the good thing is that I think Arsene is learning from that game and playing Coquelin in midfield.

  • Berth

    Team psychologist are meant to that. Winning a trophy can also help.