Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No surprises as Arsenal struggle for goals again

Well that was frustrating, but not entirely unexpected. Just before writing this post I saw a Tweet by Orbinho (follow him) that summed up a lot of what's been going on with the side over the last year or so: in Arsenal's last 15 home games in the prem, they've only scored more than one goal on 4 occasions. Not being able to find the goal today has meant we haven't taken advantage of Liverpool and Chelsea's failings yesterday, and we've put ourselves in a position whereby Spurs can increase their lead over us again tonight, if they beat Norwich.

Much has been made, and rightly so, of our defensive failings in recent months. But defensive failings are amplified when teams don't do the business at the other end. If you don't get the goals to kill off a game, you're always  one mistake away from a draw or a defeat. 

Just think how different things might have been if Nasri had put away any of those chances in the Carling Cup final? Any last minutes defensive balls-up would not have mattered. The pattern has been repeated over and over this season. Unless we get a clean sheet, we've struggled to get the three points.

And when teams can't get the goals to match their overall dominance, players get frustrated. Song was substituted today as he had lost his head - in part, I would argue, because we seemed in complete control of the game, yet were drawing 1-1 instead of winning 3-0. 

I suggested that re-signing Henry on a short-term deal might not be a bad idea in the short-term, but our lack of  attacking options has now become seriously worrying, and I'm not sure that waiting till the summer to pursue our major targets is going to work. 

At the moment, too much of our play is centred around getting RvP on the ball. It makes it easy to defend against us. We have become far too one-dimensional when we ping the ball forward. Today, players like Arshavin, Rosicky, Benayoun and Gervinho got themselves into decent positions, then looked to lay the ball off, rather than shoot. For me, it shows a worrying lack of belief among certain sections of the team about their ability to get goals. 

Yes, Hennessey had an excellent game today - his saves from Mertesacker and RvP at close range won Wolves a point. But, in general, we didn't test him enough, and too many of our shots were easy for him to deal with. But when your main attacking alternative is Chamakh - whose main contribution today was to headbutt Robin - it's not surprising that players look for Robin too often, and that we're not testing opposition goalkeepers enough. 

Finally, a word on Stuart Atwell. He was poor today, but he made poor decisions against both sides. Milijas didn't deserve to go for his challenge that saw Wolves play the last 20 minutes with only 10 men. Atwell managed to wind both teams up as he sought to make himself the centre of attention. But, really, until some form of fundamental overhaul in the nature of refereeing occurs, there will always be Atwells. The gap between the athleticism of the players and the refs is almost comical now. Players move too fast for refs - even with the help of their linesman - to judge what's going on in real time. 

At the very least, Refs need someone watching a monitor in a studio, or pitch-side, who can help them make difficult decisions. Or some form of video challenge system. Until then, unfair decisions will continue to occur. 


Follow Goonerboy on Twitter and Facebook.


sparx said...

I agree with all points including attwell, he lost control of the game and made some nonsense calls. not sure how many times the centre backs fouled RVP when he was just holding the line!

Anonymous said...

Sides come to the Emirates with a totally negative attitude,and it makes it hard to break them down.
It's simple,and its why we struggle to score at home,but hey,it doesnt make for interesting reading!!!!!!