In recent months, I’ve not contributed to the Gunners Town site. Work commitments and a busy social schedule have been two of the key factors in my blogging absence but the most disappointing factor, has been a lack of inspiration. I’ve never been one who writes for the sake of it and I’ll only ever put pen to paper if I consider myself capable of offering a different perspective to what’s already been said by others. Having read numerous responses to our defeat against Man United, I believe this is one of those occasions.
The reactions from our supporters after the final whistle were more varied than they usually are. Some thought we were awful, some thought our performance was great and others felt we were robbed. In reality it was none of the above. Admittedly, our start to the game was dismal and our defending, typically sloppy on all of the goals. However,
the players deserve at least some credit for not capitulating like they have done on previous occasions where we’ve suffered similar early setbacks.
We responded well and played some good football but any performance that contains such collective schoolboy defending and a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal cannot be classed as a great one. Some will argue that David De Gea prevented it from being one but the majority of his saves were ones he’d be expected to make. It could also be said that it’s much easier to put a team on the back foot once you’ve given them a two goal advantage. Besides, a Jose Mourinho team generally has more tactical nous than to go completely gung-ho against perceived top class opponents.
As for us being robbed, we perhaps could have been awarded two penalties on another day but the reality is, that we can’t point the finger of blame at the referee for our defensive frailties or for our failure to be clinical in front of goal. Ultimately, if we had got it right at both ends of the pitch, those two decisions would have become irrelevant. It’s never quite as straightforward as saying we’d have got a draw had they been given either. We’ll never know for certain whether we’d had scored from them or how United would have responded, had we done so.
I have seen some supporters say Arsene can be absolved of all blame for our defeat due to the quality of our performance. Looking at it from another angle however, I’m not so sure. Is it not the manager’s job to ensure his team are fired up and focused from the first whistle? Mourinho’s players certainly were. It has also been a number of years since our defence has been provided with any real top class protection by our midfield. This was once again evident against United.
Granit Xhaka is not the answer and we’ve still to see the best of him on a consistent basis. Recent seasons have been littered with individual errors by our defenders and poor collective defending. If we are being brutally honest, the defensive coaching isn’t good enough or the players aren’t. Perhaps it’s a combination of both. We’ve needed a top class defensive midfielder for years and how long have some of us been saying we need another centre back or two? If Wenger isn’t responsible for these things then who is?
Whilst I’m a fan of Sead Kolasinac, I felt his lack of pace was exposed on Saturday and that’s perhaps something to consider when we next face an opponent with lots of pace in their side. At this juncture I’d like to state that I’m not singling Sead out for criticism, it’s simply an observation. After all, we are all aware that there are other players who are far more deserving of being singled out for criticism but I’m sure that’s been done to death by now.
Man City appear to be a level above the rest of us this season and beat us whilst still in second gear several weeks ago. However, the recent performances against Spurs and Burnley suggested that we are capable of beating the other sides around us (Spurs) and that we can be resilient at times when we play difficult away games (Burnley). We just need find some consistency because at the moment, the only consistent thing about us, is that we are inconsistent.
With the dead rubber against Bate Borisov up next, I’d like to Arsene give Matt Macey another run out but he won’t. Matt didn’t let us down against Red Star Belgrade when he was thrown in and its possibility that he may end up having a future with the club as our number one. David Ospina, on the other hand, should not…..