Arsenal played an entertaining 3-3 draw that was reminiscent of last season. It is a great game for neutrals but a bad result for those in red. Both teams played offensively, leaving acres of space for their opponents to exploit. The draw is disappointing but a fair result. It is safe to say that the team will be fighting hard for CL spots again. After a very promising start to the season, fans will rightly be disappointed.
The right flank was back to what it was last season. Sagna and Walcott combined effectively with the later providing 2 assists for Giroud. Also, Fulham didn’t find much space down the right hand side. It is ironic how games have panned out this season. We started with our left on fire but our right quiet and resolute. Now the tables are turned. Walcott is performing well like every player on the last months of his contract does. Should we sign him on his wage demands? At this point, probably. We’re clutching at the straws here.
Giroud showed exactly why he will struggle at Arsenal. He was great in the air. Two well taken headed goals took his Arsenal tally to 6. But how often do we supply good crosses? This match proved to be an anomaly Our ratios were switched. Most of our crosses actually landed in the box and Giroud made most of it when he managed to get on the end of a cross.
But that is what Giroud will be if he doesn’t develop any further – excellent in the air, a target man for crosses. Unless, Arsenal transforms into a team that attacks well on the flanks and crosses, it is going to be difficult for him to shine here. So far, only Walcott, Sagna and Arshavin have been consistent with their crosses. Out of the 3, only 1 is a regular starter.
There is always plenty to say after yet another disappointment but lets keep things in perspective. The team misses Gibbs. We thought Santos could perform but he bombed. TV5 did a 50-50 job but its hard to blame him because he isn’t a winger. He provided little going forward and when he did, he couldn’t get back in time. Since Gibbs was injured we’ve been flat on the left and opponents have taken full advantage of this. When you defend, you defend as a unit – you’re only as strong as the weakest link.
You defend as a unit. You are only as strong as the weakest link.
A lot of people having been giving TV5 shit but let’s face it, TV5 has been distracted doubling up as a CB and LB when Santos was playing. Often times, he was outnumbered two to one or had his mind in two places because he was watching out for Santos. TV5 is not a rock solid defender, he is a mobile defender and when you are of that archetype you have to be very focused and be well backed up by your team. Currently, he has zilch going for him.
So what can Arsene do here? We need to get rid of Santos and bring in a left back because Gibbs is or only option. It is sad that we do not have strength in depth but a selling team like Arsenal will always find themselves in such a shape. It is ok to sell, but it is bad to not replace with quality. Selling Song was good, not replacing him was bad. Same story with Cesc, Nasri, etc.
If we could play our first team in every game without them tiring out, we’ll have a great chance to win the league. But face it, no player can survive playing every game – yet we keep asking Cazorla to do that. Cazorla put in a fine shift but looked completely dead out at the closing moments of the game. He has featured in every game and his excellent performances saw him play for Spain as well. The man needs a break but who do we bring in? Rosicky has just recovered. Do we trust Ramsey in his favoured CAM position?
It was a bad performance but Arteta has performed near flawlessly since he arrived. Surely it is time to give him a short break. But who do we bring in for him?
The same goes for Arteta. Arteta had a terrible game. He conceded a penalty in reacting slowly and almost immediately displayed uncharacteristic carelessness that nearly gave fulham a 2-4 lead. I won’t fault him for the penalty miss. It was well taken and Schwarzer did really well. It was a bad performance but Arteta has performed near flawlessly since he arrived. Surely it is time to give him a short break. But who do we bring in for him? Coquelin? Frimpong? Wenger said he didn’t sign a DM because we had these 2 in the squad. Do we trust them? Are they good enough?
Corners. We’ve been crap at them all season long. Even when our defense was well and good in the opening month or two, we were letting set pieces in easily. As mentioned many times, a team that isn’t effective in attacking set pieces will likely be poor at defending them.
Podolski and Giroud have not adapted to the league even though they have banged in sufficient goals for new comers. Poldi started very strongly putting an insane amount of energy in his game but he is tired flat out. His physical intensity fades off midway in the second half. On top of that he is missing an equally enthusiastic partner. Santos and TV5 are in no way quality wingbacks. Often times, you see both Poldi and Giroud stand still after a play has gone. The opponent has the ball and is running towards the defense but they barely move. Are they tired? I see Poldi panting after an hour. This is probably why he is always subbed out in most matches. New players need time, but we can’t afford it because our squad depth is paper thin.
New players need time, but we can’t afford it because our squad depth is paper thin.
A Tough Period
It is a difficult time to be an Arsenal fan. Even more so when such performances are contrastingly bad to what we watched just a month ago. We took 6 wins and 3 draws out of the first 10 games. After the interlull, we have only taken 2 wins, 3 draws out of 8 games. The contrast is that staggering. The difference between the two periods? Diaby and Gibbs. And new players running out of steam.
At this point, any fan would just have to go from game to game hoping for improvement and hoping we don’t recover too late to finish respectably in the league.
Wenger has to move for reinforcements and contemplate his tactical options. In Giroud, he has an excellent player in the air. Should he focus the attacks on the flanks and keep our center more defensive? I think we need backups for the LB, RW and ST positions. Arsene needs to ask himself if an injury prone Diaby, unconvincing Coquelin and raw Frimpong are backups that will land him a shot at a title.
The team needs quality back ups. It also needs time to settle and gel. Unfortunately, we seem out of time. Next up, Tottenham. November is tough and our form has not helped us at all.
|GK||V. Mannone||5.5||Wasn’t good enough. Should have dealt with the Fulham’s second better.|
|RB||B. Sagna||7.5||Kept the right side safe and supplied good crosses.|
|CB||P. Mertesacker||6.5||Ok performance but had part of the blame in the first goal. He needs to judge the ball better. Same problem happened against United.|
|CB||L. Koscielny||7||Did well. Used his speed to recover when out of position.|
|LB||T. Vermalean||6||Harsh to judge him as a LB but offered little going forward. Not quick enough to recover as well.|
|CM||M. Arteta||5||At fault for the penalty conceded. Many other mistakes as well. Needs a break but we have no one that can replace him. Had a good assist though.|
|CM||L. Coquelin||6||Didn’t do anything much of note.|
|AM||S. Cazorla||7||Worked hard. Made some key interceptions and passes but faded at the end.|
|RF||T. Walcott||8.5||Man of the match performance. 2 assists and looked dangerous and lively.|
|CF||O. Giroud||8||Excellent output with 2 headed goals but needs to do better on the ground.|
|LF||L. Podolski||7||Ran his heart out. No support from LB again. He did track back a few times this round. Took his goal well. Faded in the end too.|
|SUB||A. Ramsey||5.5||Not good enough. Contributed nothing of note and had 2 major mistakes.|
|SUB||A. Chamberlain||6||Injected life to the left flank but couldn’t get anything out of his efforts.|
|SUB||A. Arshavin||6.5||Energetic effort down both flanks. Won us a penalty that was harsh on Fulham.|