I wasn’t confident of getting anything from the game yesterday before the match itself, but what I did have hope for was that stereotype that ‘form goes out the window’ and that any Derby for any team is a great leveller.
Not Arsenal though. Not this Arsenal team.
I’m still actually a little angry about what happened yesterday. Not because of the fact we lost, the Totts were the better team and should have had more, but because of the way in which this Arsenal team surrendered at a North London Derby.
But before I talk about that abomination of a second half, let’s go through the game in chronological order, shall we?
The team news pre game was not great, as Ramsey was injured/ill, which forced the manager into a shuffle of personnel. But I could kind of understand it and you have to say that the XI he picked was probably our strongest. Elneny sitting at the base of midfield and recycling the ball was the right call, whilst Jack and Xhaka in front of them had duel rolls to drive the team forward, but also ensure that we remained compact and have Tottenham little room to find pockets with which to play balls in behind.
And in the first half it worked. Bellerin looked good, Mustafi won tackles, the midfield denied space, whilst once or twice we broke forward and you could see that if the final ball was better then we’d have had some really good chances. There was even an offside call that was incorrect but as I sat and watched it I thought “we’ll keep getting chances, one of which will come off”.
Halftime came and I started to wonder whether we could ‘kick on’ in the second half.
But that first half was as good as it got, because what those Arsenal players produced in the second half was an utter disgrace.
Arsenal came out and looked lethargic. We ran less than the Spurs players, we were second to each ball, we looked terrified at times and the amount of players who carelessly lost possession in red and white was a joke. The goal that Kane inevitably got was a catalogue of errors and the very fact that so many of us had talked about those pockets of space in front of our full backs, yet that was exactly how they scored, summed up Arsenal completely.
We just don’t do enough analysis of opponents at Arsenal. In my blog yesterday I’d mentioned that I feared them getting chances in those wide positions so to see Erikson just saunter into space on the left and put in a curling ball to Kane without much pressure was embarrassing. But not as embarrassing as Koscielny’s half-arsed attempt at challenging Kane for the ball.
What has happened to Koscielny? Is it an age thing? Four years ago he’d have been battling Kane for that but now it just looked like he couldn’t be arsed. It was pathetic defending and as much as Johnny Evans isn’t the long term answer, anybody with a bit of fight in them yesterday would have been more beneficial to the team.
But that’s the problem with this Arsenal team: fight. Or lack thereof. It just doesn’t seem to exist once we go down. We lose from losing positions. We lose from winning positions. We have players who just don’t seem to have the intensity and drive in them at all and on a day like yesterday that is unforgivable.
And sadly it’s on the manager. He needs to be the one that motivates these players and it’s clear that they’re not doing it for him any more. It used to be the case that if Arsenal played poorly then by halftime you can be damn sure that they would come out and be good in the second half. We weren’t great in that first half and Martin Keown said that he didn’t think Arsenal could be as bad in the second half yesterday, but boy was he wrong because we were worse.
What was said by the manager at halftime to make this team perform worse? How on Earth is he presiding over a halftime team talk whereby the players just switch off so obviously like that second half?
It was terrible to watch but then again, that is Arsenal this season, because I can count on one hand the number of decent performances that we’ve put in this season. We’re in February and not only was some kind of farcical hope for a challenge on the league gone long ago, we’re now done in terms of the Champions League qualification places. That is a horrendous decline and let’s not forget that every other top six team that has fallen from grace like we have, was sacking their managers for this level of underperformance.
- David Moyes
- Jose Mourinho the second time
- Brendon Rogers
- Andre Villas-Boas
All of the big clubs ensure consequences exist for the manager except at Arsenal. We’re reliant on Arsène pulling his own trigger.
There is no plan for when we go behind at Arsenal. Some of the managers decisions were just bizarre. Shunting Aubameyang our wide, trying to go ‘ALL THE FORWARDS’ by bringing on Welbeck and Lacazette just made us look like a disorganised bunch of blokes wearing the same colours. There was no cohesion going forward. Iwobi came on and one good pass to Lacazette (who of course fluffed his lines, twice) aside, was utterly dreadful. His first four touches of the ball was to give it away once and be wrestled off it three times. He’s in a terrible run of form but this manager keeps giving him a free pass.
The whole team is getting a free pass. They surrender football matches so easily it makes it painful to watch.
Bellerin and Cech came out of the game yesterday with a bit of credit but blow me, even Cech had a couple of scary moments with the ball at his feet, and surely we must be starting to look at our options for a new keeper in the summer?
Özil was absent, Mkhitaryan had a shocker, Auba was quiet and this attacking team that looked so good last weekend suddenly came up against a decent back line, and were found incredibly wanting. To be fair to them it was only their second game together, so perhaps the understanding will continue to grow, but you can’t argue that as a team we help them much with our midfield and defence.
It’s a frustrating day for us all, people will point to the fact that we’re in a cup final, but who honestly thinks that City won’t absolutely bury us in two weeks?
If they do, then we’ll be clinging on to the faint hope that somehow the Europa League can be navigated but with the team playing like they did yesterday, do you see them having enough fight to go all the way?
This feels like it’s going to be a long old time until May. To be quite frank I’d just take the domestic season ending now if I’m honest with you.
Catch you all tomorrow.