Captain’s Log star-date 188.8.131.52 point 27. I’ve been thinking, everything on the ship is recycled. Everything. Seriously…everything. So when I go to the space-toilet…
Rather than talk about the Spurs game directly I want to talk about a question that the loss raised. It’s not a new question but it’s an important one. I’ll keep it brief. The question is why? Why do we have such a problem with big away games? Even if Spurs had been bottom of the league and dead certs for relegation, playing them is always big for Arsenal. Just like Man United versus Liverpool or Newcastle versus Sunderland, some games are big irrespective of what position the teams find themselves in. Now I know that some will point to the win at City as proof that we can win the big away games, but right now one win isn’t proof, it’s an anomaly. Perhaps the problem is mental, and the win at City was the start of a run that was merely interrupted by Spurs. Perhaps the problem is bad luck. We don’t always seem to get the rub of the green in big games where small margins count more. Or perhaps the problem is the manager, who loses against teams around us away from home because he’s beaten tactically, and when two sides with similar levels of skill clash the side with a better plan wins. We can be out thought by teams like Leicester for example but still win because of the quality of personnel, but against United, Liverpool, Chelsea etc we don’t get away with it. I’m not saying we don’t play with tactics. Clearly we do, but are they good tactics? Will they win us the game?
I watched what Diego Simione did to Real Madrid and I just wonder what he could do to Spurs. He’s not coming though, so that dream will remain a dream. All is not lost though. More big signings are on the way. Arsene is building a side that will make up for his deficiencies. Schneiderlin? Reus? I’m looking forward to the summer.
They came with a plan, and if Mahrez had been able to muster any kind of shooting accuracy they could well have got result midweek. They squeezed our midfield very effectively and they had a lot of luck with loose balls, (not enough luck obviously). Mahrez was causing problems because he was everywhere, and his knack for making runs and dribbles across the field when they had squeezed us into a narrow shape was obviously well drilled prior to the game. They don’t deserve to be in the position they’re in and I sincerely hope they avoid relegation in May.
I thought Özil had another good game. Subomi made note of Mesut’s improvement in his Sideline Subz blog. To add a little to what he said, Özil was bought as a player who (amongst other things) makes the correct decisions when he has the ball. He spots the runs that nobody else sees and he picks out the right pass. It won’t be long before all our injured forwards are back and he has so much more to aim at.
Middlesbrough I know that I said this about Villa, but Middlesbrough don’t concede many goals. They have a well marshalled back line and a good goalkeeper. It will be very interesting to see how they cope with us at the Emirates. Let’s not forget that they beat City away. They’re top of the championship for a reason and their forwards make intelligent runs off the ball. This is not a game for kids like Bielik or Akpom.
I’ve seen some people mention that even if Alexis is fit he shouldn’t be risked. My personal opinion is simple. The FA Cup should be our priority. We’re not going to win the league and we’re quite a way from being able to challenge Madrid or Bayern for European glory. That leaves the cup. The fight for 4th? Why do we need to finish 4th? To attract the best players. Why do we need to attract the best players? So we can win trophies. What is the FA Cup? A trophy. I understand the perverse logic regarding prioritising 4th over the cup, but ultimately you don’t keep posters of the league table showing us placed gloriously in 4th in the trophy cabinet. Furthermore, money talks, and if we finish outside the top four we can afford to pay a little extra in wages to get our man. Just look at United. It’s also worth remembering that we are the Arsenal.
That’s a draw in itself.