The words “at least we didn’t lose” have been used far too regularly by some Arsenal supporters, following last Sunday’s draw with Spurs. Should we not all be disappointed that we failed to win the game rather than be relieved that we didn’t lose it?
Prior to kick off, we had won ten of our last eleven fixtures and Spurs were without a victory in their previous six outings. Whilst I am aware that form goes out of the window in derbies, our opponents were certainly low on confidence and there for the taking.
Perhaps some of our players had developed the same level of complacency that many of our supporters had done, in the build up to the game? With some members of our fan base, foolishly forecasting three, four or five goal victories against the team with the best defensive record in the league.
That was never going to happen. However, what quickly became apparent was that our players had failed to turn up on the pitch and our manager off it. The players appeared to lack energy and desire, whilst Arsene made the wrong substitutions at the wrong times.
Having spent the majority of the first half, shouting “close him down, come on you’ve got to work” in the direction of Alex Iwobi, who had a shocker, I was surprised to see him emerge for the second half. It was also clear that we were lacking a focal point in our attack. Why didn’t Arsene replace Alex with Olivier Giroud during the half-time interval?
After seeing the same eleven reappear for the second half, I said to those sitting near me, that when Arsene does make a change, he will take off the one player that I wouldn’t. When he chose to replace Francis Coquelin with Aaron Ramsey, he did exactly that. This was a bizarre decision, when taking into account that Aaron is not a centre forward and Francis, was the only player showing any real passion. Arsene finally made the necessary change, Giroud on for Iwobi, when the clock reached his favoured seventieth minute. Admittedly, Olivier was ineffective after being starved of service following his relatively late entrance.
Although we remain unbeaten since our opening day defeat by Liverpool, some of our performances have dipped in recent weeks, despite us picking up some solid results. We were lucky not to lose at home to Middlesbrough, who almost executed their counter attacking game plan perfectly. Had it not been for Petr Cech’s heroics between the posts, they would have done.
The perfect Gooner stocking-stuffer! Get it here
Three well taken goals late on at Sunderland, gave us a four-one victory, which undoubtedly flattered our overall performance. The three points were pleasing but the concentration levels shown by Shkodran Mustafi in the build up to their equalizer, were not. Neither were some of the antics of Alexis Sanchez.
Mustafi is good but he’s not yet at the level some of our supporters believe he is and I can’t help thinking that he has a few more mistakes in him. However, at twenty four, he is relatively young and has the time and the potential to reach the level that some fans, already think he’s at. At least the German international has aggression and power, two rare attributes in an Arsene Wenger centre back.
The attitude shown by Alexis at Sunderland was disappointing. He’s a great player but he needs to learn to play to the whistle. At one stage, we were on the attack on the edge of the Sunderland box and he remained on his knees, protesting to the referee about a foul that hadn’t been given. Accepted, on that particular occasion, he should have been awarded the foul.
I’m also not a fan of our players showing the referee imaginary cards and this seems to be becoming a frequent occurrence where Alexis is concerned. How about concentrating on the football and taking your frustrations out by putting the ball in the back of the net Alexis?
I mentioned previously, the reasons why I don’t rate David Ospina as highly as some do. In the game against Ludogorets, he proved my point. He was not directly at fault for either of their goals but he offered zero aerial presence and at one point, I wondered whether he was literally glued to his line.
Ospina is a good shot stopper but you would struggle to name a professional goalkeeper who isn’t. Regardless of the personnel, our defence always looks less assured when he plays behind them and I feared the worst every time a cross was played into our box. Thankfully Ludogorets lacked quality and Mesut Ozil produced a moment of magic to bring home the three points.
We are still in an excellent position to be successful this season and although the international fixture break is usually an unwelcome distraction, on this occasion, I think it may have arrived at the right time for us. I just hope that we don’t suffer any further injuries…..