Monday, December 19, 2011

A good performance, but Arsenal are still in a precarious situation

It's easy to trot out cliches about yesterday's game - it was a great advert for the premier league, etc. - but the fact of the matter is that we lost. We may have lost heroically, and we can be proud of the performance, but we're still three further behind in terms of the race for Champions League spots.

When compared to the shellacking we received just a few months ago in Manchester, we've clearly got our season back on track. Indeed, we were lucky not to come away from the match with at least a point. We went toe-to-toe with City for 90 minutes, and if anyone but Joe Hart had been in City's goal, I'm confident we'd all be feeling a little happier today.

But they did, and we don't.

What frustrated me the most about yesterday's game was that we dominated the match, in terms of possession, but we lacked a cutting edge. Perhaps ironically, the absence of Clichy was a big plus for City, as the excellent Zabaleta almost totally nullified Walcott, and thus cut-off our main supplier to van Persie. Gervinho frustrated more than he impressed, and was largely kept quiet by a combination of Toure and Richards. One feels that he could have done more to take on Toure with his pace.

In midfield, Song, Ramsey and Arteta all played well, but lacked a killer ball. Ramsey was unlucky not to score from a corner, and I'm hoping he can get goals back into his game.

At the back we were largely solid, and it wasn't a defensive mistake that cost us the game. Szcz made a good save, TV made a good interception, and we just couldn't keep it out. Indeed, where it not for JD's injury, and yet another forced reshuffling of the defensive pack, I think we might just have a kept a clean sheet.

Indeed, where the game was won and lost was not between the two starting XI's, who largely matched each other, but between the greater depth that City have in their squad.

Especially in the last ten years, football has ceased to be a team game - it has become a squad game. And the sheer weight of talent that City had in their squad ultimately came to bear. What we would give for a player like Dzeko to add a different option in the last twenty minutes of our games. He isn't even that great a player, but compared to the non-contribution that Chamakh now regularly produces, Dzeko is a demi-god.

Similarly, we need options other than Arshavin to come on to bolster our attacking players. It's time to play either Benayoun more regularly, or to give Oxlade-Chamberlain a chance, because Arshavin is now spent as an Arsenal player.

So, it comes down to this. We have a pretty decent first XI at the club - perhaps better than some of those that have sailed into the Champions League in seasons' past. But our squad depth is woeful. Obviously, no team can plan for four full-backs being injured simultaneously. Yet, we need to have new attacking options coming off the bench if we going to get the goals to put us into Europe next year, or to get us past Milan in the new year. A massive January transfer window is coming up. If we don't get it right, our mini-revival could slip away.

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Anonymous said...

Y3es we do have a decent first eleven. I am afraid that is where it all ends.
The Jan window is opening soon and I seriously hope Wenger will get the guys who can play in the first team rather than some raw diamond
who could prove to be a dud later on.

Anonymous said...

18 wrong calls, including an unfair goal and important booking, is too much for a team to carry in matches like this. Arsenal also suffered from the lack of wing support Sagna and Santos give.
Only two wrong calls were made against City by the way!
All in all Arsenal were very unlucky and deserve all the credit we can give them.

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