Arsenal left to pick up pieces of broken ‘Coquery’ but boosted by Ramsey return

Sanchez vs West Brom

This game can be summed up with a phrase “it was one of those games”. Everything went against us. We’ve made some uncharacteristic individual errors, were not helped in the slightest by Clattenburg and, basically, looked doomed to lose the game especially after missing the penalty.

I’m not inclined to blame the manager for this loss. Arsene selected the strongest side possible. Even his decision to drop Campbell proved, in hindsight, the correct decision. Could he have kept Alexis on the left and played Bellerin as a winger? Would it have yielded better results? I don’t know, but it looks a very fine margin from starting Gibbs as a winger. There’s no guarantee Bellerin would have fared better or that, indeed, Debuchy would have coped.

I’m not inclined to blame the players either. Who do I blame who really deserves it? Arteta? But he doesn’t. He got the ball in the build-up for West Brom’s equaliser, only for Clattenburg to give the free-kick anyway. As for the 2nd, Mikel found himself between a rock and a hard place; his own goal looked more of a deflection and it appeared almost innocent compared to what Mangala did later in the evening.

Or maybe Bellerin? Granted, the Spaniard didn’t look his usual self and was at least guilty of letting McLean sprint past him for the 2nd, maybe even for losing Morrison for the 1st. However, this is what @7amkickoff said about Morrison’s finish and I agree with him:

“This match against West Brom had a huge element of bad luck for Arsenal. The goal they conceded was a strike that Eduardo, one of the most technically gifted players I’ve ever seen play for Arsenal, made once in his career. My honest opinion is that Morrison was just trying to get a boot on the ball. There is no way that he tried to samba that ball in off the volley using the side of his right foot.”

However, there are still bits I’d like to discuss in greater detail. Let’s start with the positive one(s).

Alexis Sanchez

Our Duracell bunny had his best performance in a while. He pulled off one of the only three shots on target, created three chances for his teammates, completed 11 dribbles out of 16 attempted and got us a penalty.

In short, he put in a performance highly reminiscent of Sanchez we all know and love and lacked only a goal to his name (preferably, the winner) for his comeback to look complete. However, he still got his MoM award.

I have no idea how Alexis pulled off such a performance under the circumstances. The circumstances being his (supposedly extreme) levels of exhaustion. He plays and plays and plays. Amazing from the Chilean, hope he has enough energy left in his tank for the Zagreb game. Then Oxlade should return for Norwich, so Alexis will finally be able to get some rest. Not sure he’’l want to, though.

He’s back!

Tony Pulis and his orcs

Orcs aren’t tied to location, it’s the way of life. Wherever Tony Pulis goes, orcs appear out of nothing and follow his lead.

It seems Pulis once again deployed his dirty tactics of time-wasting and hacking our players down at every opportunity, but it wasn’t the most disgusting thing about the whole situation. The most despicable thing was…

Mark Clattenburg

If you asked me before the game to rate the referees in order of competence, I’d probably have put Clattenburg into 2nd, behind Michael Oliver. After the game he slid down to somewhere in-between Anthony Taylor and Mike Dean.

Frankly, he had a nightmarish performance, however what boiled my piss the most about his incompetence was that the ref seemingly gave in to the fans, the players, Pulis and the whole disgusting atmosphere. Like Mike Dean vs Chelsea, he was too busy avoiding the wrath of the home fans to be able to control the game and make correct calls.

He didn’t punish Yacob for his foul on Coquelin, the one which will see the Frenchman sidelined for two months, he didn’t book whoever slid in-behind and almost killed Monreal seconds later, he allowed Ollson to manhandle Giroud in the box… I could go on, but I’m sure you don’t need me to.

Utterly inept from Clattenburg

Coquelin and Arteta

It’s the thing I hate most about our defeat. Not so much the defeat itself, these are unavoidable, but injuries to further two players, one of whom was absolutely vital for us since starting the game on the 28th of December against West Ham.

Unfortunately, Francis Coquelin has suffered a knee injury, the full extent of the damage we don’t know yet, but he’ll be out for at least two months. Arteta’s injury was labelled “short-term”, but this makes the situation only marginally better.

Wenger now has to come up with a solution at DM, one which will allow us to get through the month of December as unscathed as possible, before snatching a new holding mid on the 1st of January. Fingers crossed he will find one.

Coq’s injury also potentially leaves us with another midfield dilemma: can Cazorla maintain his level alongside Flamini, Ramsey or even Chambers? I’m not sure he can, so I’m awfully relieved we got Ramsey back. Just in case Cazorla’s contribution will plummet with his trusty Coq by his side.

Will he continue to be as affective?

The inability to create/take our chances

We looked absolutely listless in the first half, devoid of ideas. It was a miracle we went ahead (cheers for the 7th consecutive assist, Mesut), largely because we seemed off the pace big time. We seemed capable of only conjuring something up from set-pieces, so it was no surprise 2 of our 3 shots on target came from free-kicks.

We got better in the second half, but that was where our inability to finish kicked in. Alexis failed to pounce on a good cross, Campbell spurned a glorious opportunity to make it 2-2 and Cazorla put the icing on this horror show’s cake by putting a penalty horribly over. He slipped on the spot and, while I suspect some West Brom player tampered with it right before the kick was taken, that just cast the result in stone and summed up our day. It wasn’t meant to be.

The verdict

Such things happen in football. In fact, they happen all the time. The underdogs beat the overwhelming favourites. Big teams will put it weak performances, they will get punished for it and it’s naive to think it only happens to us. It’s football, it’s unpredictable, this unpredictability is one of the reasons we love the game.

And look, we could have been much worse off. We didn’t lose 4-1 at home (hats off to Liverpool. A masterclass of a performance), we don’t sit in 14th after barely scraping past Norwich.

In fact, we are just 2 points off league leaders Leicester. Both Leicester and United have tougher runs than we do. Nothing was lost in terms of the title race on Saturday. Now we just need to make sure it stays that way in the coming weeks.

Until later

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2 Responses to Arsenal left to pick up pieces of broken ‘Coquery’ but boosted by Ramsey return

  1. Victor Thompson November 24, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Hi Alex,

    If you read my comment on Dave Seagar`s article yesterday you will realise that for once I cannot agree with your perception of the game with West Brom.

    This was indeed “one of those games” and part of the unpredictability of football, except that it was not unpredictable. One could say that if this was an aberration that was totally out of character for Arsenal. It was neither of those things. We were lethargic against Spurs in the first half and we followed that with a similar performance against a much weaker team. We did that against Dynamo Zagreb and Olympiacos and that is why we are in the position we are in.

    You are correct that Arsene fielded the strongest team he could against W. Brom but whose fault was that? As I said yesterday, he could and should have signed cover for Coquelin as we did not have anyone. Please don`t include Arteta or Flamini as replacements. Arteta is past it. He is too slow, too old and is no longer capable of compensating for lack of pace which means that he commits more fouls now. Flamini hit the wall some time ago and is now only capable of playing for short periods in a game. neither player would be considered by any of the top teams as good enough for this level of football.

    Many good sports writers mention our injury list and then gloss over it. Others mock us by citing it as just another old chestnut and unfortunately you appear to be doing the same. You say that “Wenger has to come up with a solution at DM one which would get us through the month of December”. That is absolutely correct but it is too late now after the disaster has happened. He should have planned for that in advance. His previous failures to do so should have taught him that. He cannot change the situation until our walking wounded are back or until the January transfer window opens.

    Players like Ramsay, Walcott and Chamberlain will be expected to walk onto the team and resume their top level of performance at or near the same time and I would have thought that that is a recipe for repeat injuries
    ( hamstrings especially). How frustrating is it to think that at the start of the season we were rejoicing at the glut of forward talent we had and a surplus of top class midfielders. We rediscovered Coquelin who was a significant step up from Flamini, and all looked rosy.

    Now, as you rightly point out, we have a choice of Bellerin on the right wing or Gibbs on the left wing to try and make up a forward line. Unfortunately much as I like Campbell`s determination and perseverance, it is obvious that all his enthusiasm does not disguise a lack of genuine talent. He is not an old player who has seen better days. He is young and should be at his best but unfortunately it is not good enough. Why are we in this position? I wish someone ( preferably Arsene ) could explain this.

    Victor Thompson

    • Dave Seager November 24, 2015 at 10:40 am #

      Victor you need to start sending these as articles as well. I am very busy and whilst I would love to rejig your comments into blogs I do not always have the time. Dave

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