It’s all been quite negative in the press in regards to Arsenal. The players, the manager and the board have all been criticized heavily by the fans and media. Fans haven’t quite been too nice about the team or to each other, but that is what happens when things don’t go the way we want them to go.
I’ve been saying for a while that we have a plethora of players, and they do need time to gel. Tonight we played another change in personnel and this time we saw Vermaelen move to left back. I agreed with the decision before the game and we all thought that the switch would give us some defensively stability against a team who we knew would attack.
With Theo Walcott a surprise starter, considering the news he was ill before the game, the line up was:
Sagna – Koscielny – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c)
Arteta – Wilshere
Walcott – Cazorla – Podolski
And the inclusion of Walcott paid off as he was involved in everything. He is relatively fresh compared to the rest of the team as he’s not played too much the season, and it was no surprise that he scored the first goal of the game hovering around Giroud who latched on a mis-judged back header fluffing his chance, only for Walcott to knock the ball in.
It was soon 2-0 when Podolski threw in another great cross to the head of a diving Giroud who added another goal to his season tally. For me, the movement forward was a good sign. However, to be honest, it was against the run of play, as the home team had been playing very well up until the two goals.
But as individual mistakes have been costing us this season, it struck again a minute before half time, when Cazorla slipped just before the centre circle, giving the ball away, three passes later, the ball is in front of Huntelaar, and it’s 2-1 to the Arsenal – Koscielny accidently keeping two Schalke players on-side.
Schalke stepped it up in the second half and when Vermaelen forgot he was a left back, he left Farfan free on the right of midfield, and then conceded an own goal trying to rush to block him. 2-2.
At 2-2, neither team took many risks and both teams had good chances. Before the game, we’d have taken the draw – the key thing now is to beat Montpellier in the next game.
Arsene spoke after the game and was pleased with the performance, believing the team is gelling well.
For us it was important first of all not to lose and if possible to win. We managed the first part, not the second one. I felt that overall we played reasonably well, but dropped physically in the second half. The regret we have is that we conceded the goal just before half time and we missed the [Theo Walcott] chance at the end of the game. I think the two, of course, have a big impact on the result overall. Schalke never gave up and worked hard. I believe we have shown a good response to Saturday’s game and you feel the team is getting better. I think in one month, if we continue to develop, we will be there.
We now return to the Premiership with a key game against Fulham on the weekend. We’ll be without Jack, but hopefully we’ll have enough in us to get a very important three points in the league…
More tomorrow amigos.