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…
Jenkinson – Mertersacker – Vermaelen (c) – Santos
Arteta – Ramsey
Gervinho – Cazorla – Podolski
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:
- We didn’t close down in midfield
- 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.