When I saw Fonte power his header past Cech in the 66th minute, I turned the game off. It’s what I always do when the Gunners go 3 down. I haven’t watched us lose to United 8-2. I haven’t witnessed our 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Chelsea, or the 5-1 at Anfield. Even this year I have turned off our game vs Bayern.
Thing is, I just can’t stand it. I’ve been called plastic for that. But I still turn games off. And I will do it again in the future when we go 3 goals behind.
Why? The answer is simple: I suffer together with my team. When we fall behind big time, my suffering reaches tipping point: I physically can’t watch my team suffer. If they can’t put themselves out of their (and my) misery, then only I can do that. By turning off the TV.
What can I say about our defeat? We just didn’t turn up for the game. It’s happened before, it’s happened again and it will happen in the future. Unless we identify the problem behind it and address it, which I doubt. It’s the same as with the injury situation: if it was easy to solve, we would have done it already.
The thing I rue the most is that we never seem to get away with playing badly. We almost always get punished for not turning up, only the extent varies, whether it’s a fluky 2-0 opening-day loss to West Ham or a thorough bashing at the Allianz Arena.
I have watched quite a few of United’s games this season (hours I’ll never get back for things more productive or, at least, more satisfying). Their luck has run out, it seems, that with 3 successive defeats in a row and a 7-game winless streak in all competitions, but they have been shit all season. Even their fans admit that. The number of games where United were really good and won as a consequence can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Yet their points haul suggests they weren’t as bad as they actually were.
That is the thing I love, and hate, most about Arsenal. This may well be the reason why I support them and will continue to do so. Nothing good ever comes easy for the Gunners. Our good results are a continuation of good performances. But we don’t get lucky bounces, or at least we don’t get them often enough to worth mentioning them. We either turn up, work hard and win, or we lose resoundingly. We crumble. We self-detonate in spectacular fashion.
Yesterday was one of the times when we haven’t turned up at all. Like against Zagreb, West Ham, Bayern. Sometimes we get incredibly unlucky with refereeing, for example. Like against Chelsea or West Brom. But most of the time we are the masters of our own downfall.
Despite me not being in a mood to discuss the performance in detail, there are still things I would like to focus on. I’ll start with the very thing I liked about our performance vs City, the thing we completely lacked at St. Mary’s. One which lies at the heart of such an atrocious performance, in my view.
It just wasn’t there. Poof. Gone. We did the exact opposite of what should have been done, of what we managed vs City.
We lost duels, we didn’t track runners, we failed to keep our shape, we allowed Southampton to have the ball without putting pressure on them. What’s more, our efficiency dropped big time compared to 6 days ago. For example we took 8 shots with 5 on target in both games, but were only able to create 1 big chance vs Soton compared to 3 vs City. Here are the numbers which show how much our intensity dropped.
What does it tell us? We were much less willing to attack Southampton players in possession, hence the drop. I regret a lot there is no such metric as “duels” (or at least it isn’t available for the wider audience), because I suspect that’s where we really lost the game.
He was shite. That doesn’t make us world beaters, but Jonathan Moss made three costly decisions on the first three goals, plus a lot of small decisions went Soton’s way.
There was an offside in the build-up to the first, Long blatantly tripped Koscielny to escape his marker for the second and the third wasn’t a corner. That doesn’t change the fact we defended like a pile of dung on all three occasions, but saying the ref didn’t influence the outcome of the game would be wrong in the extreme.
That was something else. Immediately after the loss people started calling for Wenger’s head, lambasting Per Mertesacker, saying Flamini is no longer up for it and so on and so forth.
Wenger went from being a tactical genius to being unable to implement basic things right, Mertesacker’s massive rock-solid City performance was forgotten and he went back to being a slow and useless lamppost, Flamini was “all over the place” 5 days after demonstrating brilliant acumen to pocket Silva, while Olivier Giroud transformed into a donkey from a clinical finisher.
If you look at your Twitter timeline (and I strongly recommend you not to), our title bid is over. We don’t have the depth, the mentality, the quality, the right manager – you name it.
Let’s just ignore the fact Manchester “much better than us” City actually trail us by a point, having lost to us just a game ago. Let’s close our eyes City were comprehensively beaten three times this season, losing twice by a 4-1 scoreline, one of these times was at home. Let’s talk down all our previous achievements and good games.
No perspective whatsoever. I swear to God our fanbase is as reactionary as it gets. Every loss is an utter failure, which should immediately be “seriously inquired into” and put right by axing the manager and half the squad.
This loss hurts. The fact that this loss came at a time when we had a chance to go top hurts even more. The fact that we were actually outplayed and humiliated doesn’t bear thinking about.
But the fact remains: this loss isn’t the end of the world. We are still second in the league, two points behind Leicester who take on City in the next game. We have created ourselves a cushion by beating City, now we’ve blown it. Yes, we now have a worse goal difference.
However we are still well-placed in the grand scheme of things. We haven’t lost three league games in a row. We aren’t in the 15th place, desperately trying to get top 6. We are still in the title mix, whatever anyone else might have you believe.
Now let’s hope we show up and do the job against Bournemouth.
Unfortunately I have an exam on Monday, so I don’t even know whether I’ll make the game. I’m leaving you in the safe hands of Sohum to cover the match. See you in 2016.