We’ve got to all be honest with ourselves here: this team is probably going to fall away from even challenging from the top four if we continue to put in performances away from home like yesterday.
Giroud’s late flick in on 88 minutes may have taken some of the stink of the performance away, but by and large it just masked the odour rather than remove it, because Arsenal were terrible at times yesterday.
Particularly at the start and particularly in defence. Arsène named the same XI that started against United bar the injured Mustafi who was replaced by Big Per and whilst pre game I was happy with that selection, after about 15 minutes I was scratching my head as to how these defenders could be so bad.
It was like some of them had never played together, never trained together, didn’t even speak the same language. And yet again we shot ourselves in the foot early on, just like the game against United, only this time it was a couple of mistakes and Big Per falling over that will have him having nightmares I suspect.
But we could – and should – have been two or three down after that and whilst Arsène blamed the mental scarring from last weekend, I’m not as forgiving in my analysis, because these are professionals who should be able to compartmentalise weeks of football like last weekend.
I think Arsène is covering for his teams away ineptitude though and we have to admit that we have a problem away from home. Southampton had chances to score more goals and after the interval they settled in to a very decent defensive shape that we simply couldn’t break down. Last weekend De Gea made save after save but this weekend Forster was left relatively quiet.
For all of the talk of our ‘elite’ front line, the lack of chances created in away games really is quite atrocious and it seems to stem from the fact that we have a midfield that is completely barren save for the forlorn Granit Xhaka who is left to roam alone at times as Ramsey goes hunting in the final third.
There’s no real build up in our pattern of play. Southampton has a game plan to sit in and be difficult to break down, so our game plan should have been to move the ball quicker, perhaps draw them out by asking them to collectively press us higher up the pitch before hitting them with our pace. But as I’ve heard on the Arsenal Vision podcast and started to see myself and realise yesterday; this Arsenal team are not very good passers of the football. And if you’re not very good and composed in moving the ball quickly then you aren’t going to be able to move teams around because you’ll keep turning over possession.
Which is exactly what happened and the chief protagonist was Alexis. Now I don’t know about you and I don’t know if I’m psychologically preparing myself for his exit, but I’m getting more and more annoyed by his individuality, by his constant lack of ability to release the ball, by his inability to sometimes just do the simple thing, and I’d love to know why he isn’t being dropped. People are talking about the ‘X-Factor’ he brings but how do we know that his absence won’t just liberate the team into looking like a more cohesive unit?
I kind of want to give it a go if I’m honest because I’d love to see us perform more of a team and less with nine outfield players and one maverick.
Alexis was poor but we were poor in general all over the pitch. Koscielny looks a shadow of his usual self, both full backs were atrocious, Ramsey went back into frustrating mode and to make yesterday all the more sh*tty, looks to have done his hamstring with one of the last kicks of the game. Lacazette didn’t get much of a sniff and only Özil looked like he was trying things.
There’s definitely something wrong with this team and it’s not fitness because they’re only playing one game a week.
We play a buoyant West Ham who will be bang up for it after beating Chelski and it’s not a prospect I’m looking forward to on Wednesday night I’m afraid to say. If we want to get out of this festive period looking like we can challenge for a top four spot then we have to win our next three league matches and I’m just not convinced we will at all right now.
I suppose the saving grace is that Liverpool, United, Chelski, all dropped points this weekend like we did. But that’s one point from a possible six that we’ve got and anything other than a win on Wednesday night will have us feeling like we haven’t got rid of the November curse at all; we just shifted it to December.
Catch you all tomorrow.