Arsenal produced a toothless display and were rightly shown the door against Blackburn at home. There was no drive, no urgency and no determination to put the game to bed. Wenger had a huge hand in it as well as he made sweeping changes to the team and played a side that didn’t have much experience together. The result was a game of complete dominance but no product. Blackburn nicked one near the end and that was that. Dropping out of a cup competition against lesser teams is not abnormal. However, going out the manner we did is sickening but yet so very familiar.
Wenger played a midfield trio of Arteta, Diaby and Rosicky. He has done so previously but in place of Rosicky were Cazorla or Wilshere. Rosicky is a fine player but he hasn’t played for so long and it was a gamble to place our attacking hopes squarely on his shoulders. The result was obvious. We made near zero inroads in the middle. If you have watched Arsenal for long time, this usually spells trouble. Being able to get between opposing defenders and midfielders is the difference between creating good chances and hoofing hopeful ones.
Wenger entrusted a team that had little time together to produce the goods. It didn’t work out.
The front five just couldn’t work things out. Final balls couldn’t find their target. Gervinho showed nearly no understanding with Giroud, and with good reason – Gervinho has hardly played on the left when Giroud is on the pitch. Oxlade Chamberlain began the game brightly but his crossing and corners were awful. And that continued for the rest of the team. Balls either failed to clear the first man or looped right into the awaiting arms of Blackburn’s outstanding custodian.
I can go on and on. Diaby slowed the game down and couldn’t tell where his team mates were going. Why? He has hardly played with Rosicky, Gervinho and… never mind – he has hardly played this season anyway. Wenger entrusted a team that had little time together to produce the goods. It didn’t work out. We dominated but had little cutting edge. No real surprise actually.
For most of the first half, it did look like we were in a race with Blackburn to see who could perform worse. We didn’t care about wasting possession and Blackburn was making foolish mistakes whenever we did. Blackburn woke up in the second half. We didn’t.
Blackburn woke up in the second half. We didn’t.
I will hold Szczesny to blame for the goal. He dealt poorly with a first time shot coming at the edge of the box and palmed it right at the opposition. While his reflexes and close range saves are his strengths, he has been poor in dealing with long shots. This has hardly been the first time we’ve seen that happen. We need a better keeper but there are more pressing concerns around that seem to be left untended much less this.
It is not difficult to understand what is wrong with the team – there is no leader. In fact, you want a couple of leaders in the team to push everyone on. I saw Arteta attempt to rouse his team mates in the first half, but no one responded. TV5 didn’t even talk to his team mates. You don’t see Wenger yelling at the team. Nothing. When we lose – it’s a bad day so let’s try again tomorrow. This is the exact attitude that has seen many empty seasons.
When we lose – it’s a bad day so let’s try again tomorrow. This is the exact attitude that has seen many empty seasons.
Ever since the invincibles left, we hardly had a team of fighters that would drive each other on. We had about one at each time, Gallas, Cesc, Arteta and now Wilshere. That is insufficient. You need at least 3-4 on the pitch at one time.
I don’t have a solution for this. Change the manager? Fat hope. Buy more players with more spirit and are more vocal?Pretty much fat hope as well. It is for this reason that Arsenal seems to be picked on and laughed at. We make it really easy for everyone else because we do nothing about it.
I’m not too bummed about getting knocked out of the FA Cup. But getting knocked out with this kind of performance is sickening. A self inflicted wound is just as good as scoring an own goal and we have done this so often every year. Losing to Blackburn is not new – we lost to them at home in the league last season 4-3. Then, there’s that league cup final and the Bradford penalties, and the… you get the point.
The team’s morale and confidence will take a beating, again. Whether the players can stick together and find strength collectively to get out of this never ending vicious cycle takes more than just buying and firing. The team has lost its soul for a long time and the alternating spineless performances show it.
We have moments of brilliance, but consistency is far more important.
For more posts like these, follow @davejunia on Twitter.