Saturday, March 31, 2012

We Wanted it Less: Ten Thoughts on QPR 2 Arsenal 1

After multiple wins, it's back to earth with a bump. Thoughts as follows:

* We started sluggishly and never really - and I hate that I'm about to say this - played 'without the handbrake on'. I may not particularly like him, but Hughes clearly instructed his team to play a high-tempo pressing game from the first whistle, and they prevented us from settling into any form of rhythm. When you rely on your ability to dictate the game through passing, as we do, we are are susceptible to teams like QPR who don't give us time to pick our passes, or to find space.

* QPR deserved to score first and they did. Shortly before the goal Zamora had narrowly missed, and when the goal came it was no surprise. It was really disappointing to see ourselves bossed around during the opening stages.

* The big talking point for the goal is Thomas Vermaelen. I repeat what I have repeatedly said about Vermaelen: his reputation is built on his determined character and his knack for getting goals more than his actual ability to defend. It's clear with the eye, and confirmed by stats, that Koscielny is a better (and rapidly becoming a far better) defender. If you were to go through Vermaelen's career, you will see that he has a knack for making errors that lead to goals, and I'm not sure he's really improved dramatically as a defender since he's arrived at the club. This is not to say he's a bad player - he's a good one. But I would strongly question anyone who claims he's a world class defender, especially when he has one playing beside him. It's for this reason I'm glad we have Mertesacker as an alternative option, and it's also why I don't rule out the rumours linking us with Jan Vertonghen.

* If TV is going to take a big part of the blame for the two goals, then Szcz must take some for at least the first goal. He has improved this season, but I would wager this his shot-saving percentage is still quite low. I'm not sure how much he could have done about the second goal, but he definitely could have got closer to the first.

* Our equalizer came against the run of play, and it was really the only effective offensive action that Theo engaged in all day. No key passes and no accurate crosses tells a story, of sorts, but credit to him for sticking away his chance.

* Someone who didn't was RvP. Put clean through, you would have fancied him to score, but he could only force a save from Kenny. Had he scored we may have secured the three points, but we played so poorly today that I could have seen us shipping another goal. Personally, I think Robin will score against City next Sunday.

* Ramsey's performance was fairly woeful, but I'm not sure that being played out of position really helped. I didn't mind it against Everton because it seemed like he was being played there to counter a specific tactical threat, but today it just looked like Wenger wanted to shoe-horn both Ramsey and Rosicky into the side, regardless of whether it would actually work or not. AW should have realised earlier that it wasn't working - leaving the system as it was until the QPR goal was asking for trouble.

* A few people have been criticising Song after the game, and it's true that he did try perhaps one too many 'hollywood balls'. But QPR gave our forward midfielders so little time and space that long balls often seemed like the only real option. Surprisingly, we played with a lack of patience in midfield that was a little worrying to see.

* Again, we didn't really have any options on the bench. Gervinho made almost zero effect when he came on, and when I saw Chamakh I kinda knew that the game was up. I might have thrown Santos on - he would have been more of a threat against a tiring side than either Gerv or Cham. As it was, the subsitutions did little to alter the game, and QPR seemed happy to cede possession and keep their shape during the final stages.

* We had to lose, or at least draw, eventually, so I'm not completely devastated by this performance. What was most worrying, though, was the lack of fight among the team. QPR played like they wanted it more - maybe because their situation is so troubling. We seemed to simply get frustrated at not being allowed to play our normal game, and went into a kind of weird sulk. It was very disheartening to see. If nothing else, it still shows that this team is still not near reaching the consistency required for any kind of league challenge. We still have a few too many passengers - particularly on the bench.

We're still five points clear of Chelsea, and we can hope that Swansea cause Spurs a few problems tomorrow, but with a game against Man City next week, our situation has become rapidly more precarious. In a way, I'm glad we've got a big game next week, because I think the team will be less inclined to go into a funk and blow another potential three points. Whatever happens next week, they have to show more desire than they did today, otherwise we will lose again.


Paul said...

I CANT BELIVE WENGER!!!!! once again he starts that piece of crap Ramsey!!!!! The lad is total poo and should never bee in the first eleven especially when OX is sitting on the bench I just can’t belive it I’ve been arguing with people on this blog all season about Ramsey and another avrage player ARTETA another player who isn’t good enough for arsenal hr got pushed of the ball like a little baby yesterday and yea he makes lots o little passes but they don’t effect the game at all he might aswell be playing it bk to SCZNY the whole game….
GOTZE, PODOLSKI amd even more key than any of these players is having wilshere fit again!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was shocked by the level of commitment shown by some of the players -
1. Arteta - Lost the ball many times but only made half-hearted attempts to recover it
2. Vermalean - His errors gifted both the goals to QPR. If Mertesacker had made even one error he would have been criticized for being 'too slow' and not learning how to play in Prem.
3. Ramsay - OX should have started
On the other hand, Rosicky atleast showed the grit to run after QPR whn they had the ball.
We paid the price of being complacent