Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Arsenal Go One Set Up: Seven Thoughts on Arsenal 7 Reading 5

Whoever said the League Cup was boring? Seven thoughts for seven goals.

* I'm not going to lie, you must have something approaching clinical optimism if you truly believed that Arsenal would win when Reading scored their fourth goal. The first forty minutes or so were simply an utter shambles, and if the scoreline had stayed this way there would have been something approaching a meltdown  after the game among the Arsenal fanbase. As it is, it's hard to know where to start with the goals we conceded. Koscielny, after looking so brilliant for much of last season, now looks all over the place. It's similarly difficult to believe that Djourou briefly looked like a defensive titan during the 2010-11 season. Whatever joy we take from the game, we should never concede four goals in a half in any competition.

* At the time, it was hard to know what to make of it, but Walcott's goal just before half-time was vital. It gave a little edge to proceedings when there had previously been total Reading dominance. Sometime it's easy to criticize the players for giving up too easily, and, even if we don't take anything else from Theo's performance tonight, he showed ability and desire when we 4-0 down to start the comeback. Thankfully, we can take much more, and he showed that he can be a game-changer and a game-winner when given the opportunity.

* The second half saw a series of moments that eventually swung the game in our favour. Giroud and Eisfeld helped turn the game when they arrived, with Giroud scoring a brilliant header almost immediately. Eisfeld looked superb for much of the game, and must surely be pushing for a place on the first team bench. The referee then decided to not send off Koscielny, despite two relatively clear cut occasions when he might have received a second yellow card. That he scored the third goal will not have gone unnoticed among Reading fans. Finally, with the clock running down, Reading decided to make a substitution to try and extinguish the game's final moments. Instead, it provided us with the extra minute or so we needed to score. It's hard to take, but this wasn't "Fergie time" - it was justifiable stoppage time given the substitution.

* What happened with the fourth goal wasn't entirely clear at the time. I couldn't tell if the ball had gone over the line, if the referee had played advantage for the handball, or if he had awarded Jenkinson the goal for his follow-up effort. Whatever happened, it was a goal in the end, so who cares, I suppose.

* Once we got the fourth, I was fairly confident that we'd get a fifth, and so it proved. Chamakh stroked the ball home very nicely from outside the area, and would lob the keeper with similar panache for our seventh in the very last minute from the game. Considering that the return of RvP began his demise at Arsenal, might Robin's departure signal his resurgence? Somehow, I doubt it, but at the least it was a decent showing while he was in the shop-window. If nothing else, he remains one of only two out-and-out strikers we have at the club. Similarly, Arshavin, for the second game in a row, looked busy in attack, and a character who could provide the team with an edge at some point in a game this year. It was his run and shot that led to the sixth goal, and it always warms my heart to see our most enigmatic of players light up a match.

* After completing this most epic of comebacks, we almost predictably didn't know what to do next, and conceded again. Yes the game was crazy, but there's no excuse for leaving two players unmarked in the six-yard box when you're leading a game. I"m not sure I could have handled penalties by this point, so it was a might relief to see us actually get the final two goals.

* So, what to make if it all? It's hard to say. A four-goal comeback is remarkable, and evidence of a fighting spirit within the squad - but why do we give up so many cheap goals with such frustrating regularity? I read a brilliant article by Jonathan Wilson in the Blizzard recently when he noted that Spain now prefer to control games and win by smaller margins, than blow teams away like they used to with the increased potential for conceding goals. By doing so, they've become more consistent, yet less spectacular, boring even, in the eyes of some. I sometimes feel a bizarre pining for the days of George Graham, when we would bore our way trophies.  Winning 7-5 is amazing, but I would be more than happy if we won every other game 1-0 this season, starting with our trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.


Buckie Steve said...

Ironically, we've conceded fewer goals than any team in the Prem -- just 6 through 9 games.

If you'd told me before the season that we would only ship 6 in our first 9 games, looking at our schedule I would have guessed we'd be leading the league. Or at least right close to the top.

It hasn't been defence that's let us down, bar those ugly two goals vs the Chavs. It's been the inability to score, which to me makes it all the more critical that we get Theo extended.

We have so few players who instantly open up a game, and Theo can do it. If we let him walk to save a few quid, can we possibly get anyone better in our price range?

Not a chance!

Unknown said...

Yeah I agree with the above comment its not our defence at fault this season because they have improved leaps and bounds.

Now funny the author should mention the new style that Spain have adopted but what you don realise we have adopted it, total control and domination of the game waring teams down. Look at the way we have started to play a lot more passes backwards and sideways to encourage teams to come out and create space for attack.

In my honest opinion at international level it's a great tactic because teams have to maximise their points average to qualify from groups. So no team in the world will park the international bus to stop teams from playing plus there's only one team from England.

In the prem the lower teams getting a gutsy point from the titans could be the point that saves relegation, so the don't mind sitting deep. Because of this we can't afford to pussyfoot around passing the ball slowly and unperposfuly until the opposition give in and come at us becaus ether won't.

Forget about Geroud great performance last night it wasn't him who won us the game, I was Tomas Eisfeld. He came on and seemed to egnite the team. He wanted the ball, he made quick accurate passes encouraged the team to link up and move the ball quicker with more purpose. One thing came back that we have missed since Cesc left, the lovely close 5 a side football in the final third, all the players were coming short looking for one twos forcing reading mistakes it was a joy to behold.

Son summary plaing like Spain is the reason we couldn't beat Schalke and Norwich. We needed to bring back our Cesc appeal and move the ball quicker shorter and with more purpose and drive, no more fanning around going forward to the byline only to pass the ball all the way back to the defence.

Tomas Eisfeld come on last night and brought me my Arsenal back Thank You!

Anonymous said...

One of the few Arsenal games I can attend and was able to take whole family (2A + 3C = £55 Is this 1994?); first proper game for my wife & daughter. Not bad, eh?

The atmos was superb throughout: confidence->disbelief->despair->hope->belief->unbridled joy. And fair play to Reading - great support down near our away end and nice comments from fans after the game. Brian McDermott is truly a gent and I hope they stay up.

A night to remember.


ps Still nervous about Saturday, mind you....

Anonymous said...

A couple of other points:

* Amusing as it was to see Giroud & Cocq asking for their thrown shirts back, but this surely answers any questions about whether Arsenal practice penalties before cup ties, eh?

* Reading's pitch had a football match (Sat), rugby match (Sun) plus miserable weather and after 120 mins of football on Tuesday the surface was still pristeen and showing no signs of the uneven bog that away teams attribute to 'wear n tear' when Arsenal's passing team comes to visit. Credit where it is due.