What on earth do you make of that game yesterday? I don’t even know where to start if I’m honest. I don’t k is whether to express relief that the team managed to salvage a draw, or frustration that we looked so leggy and at times disinterested, or at least a little clueless and out of ideas against a Tottenham team that worked hard but wasn’t exactly amazing.
When you play a rival in Derby and play badly for most of the match, especially at home, I suppose it’s ultimately frustration you feel as a fan. So I guess that’s where I’m at this morning as I write today’s thoughts. Arsenal were poor. We were second to the ball for most of the game and in midfield we were anonymous. Actually, in the first half, we were worse than anonymous because we lost possession time and time again. It’s weird; you’d think that the Arsenal players would be technically gifted enough to be able to cope with players who have essentially been told to press high. But at times yesterday we looked fragile and unsure of what to do when the Spuds were driving forward at us.
Perhaps I should give some credit to Pochettino. He has drilled a work ethic in to his players that is seeing them cover a lot of ground and put teams under pressure and in to making mistakes like we did yesterday. But I suppose the benefit he has is an almost fit squad to choose from. Arsène does not have that luxury at the moment and you get the feeling that it’s starting to show. We creaked yesterday and the net effect was an afternoon of uncomfortable watching for you and I.
Santi Cazorla was all over the place and when Flamini came off at half time I must admit I was applauding Arsène’s tactical decisiveness. But as he admitted afterwards, it was because of illness to the Spaniard rather than tactical decision making, so perhaps he wasn’t being as ruthless as I thought. Of course he might have been ruthless but trying to protect Santi by saying he was ill, but we’ll never know I guess.
That first half was pretty turgid to watch though and the goal we conceded will go down as one of the ‘how not to implement the offside trap’. Koscienly should have been paying more attention, but it was a pretty routine route one ball over the top of Mertesacker that set Kane in. I do love Big Per, but that sort of ball would have been food and drink for Gabriel, so I wonder if the German might suffer by being rotated in the next game?
Anyway, the second half was only marginally better than the first, in that we scored and they didn’t. But we still looked fragile. The Spuds won the ball higher up the pitch and although Flamini added a bit more bite in midfield than Santi, we still had some scary moments. I’m thinking a strange lapse of judgement by Cech when dallying on the ball specifically. Having said that, he also made a couple of smart saves, so in the main he had a decent game.
He was one in a group who didn’t, however, because there was plenty of pretty average performances. Per and Kos, Cazorla and Campbell, but also Alexis. He must be knackered because he just doesn’t look like he’s at his best at the moment. It’s understandable. He travels away to South America for international matches when he’s not playing for Arsenal and so you wonder whether that is having an ill effect on him. But he isn’t playing well at the moment that’s for sure.
Giroud too, had one of those games where you realise he’s a £12million footballer and not a £25million on. I was watching the game with my brother and as Giroud missed the free header in the box that went wide in the second half, we both remarked that an Aguero would get one chance in a game like that and not miss. That’s the problem I guess. It’s not Giroud’s fault and I don’t want to dig him out too much because he’s been scoring for us, but he’s not a ‘one chance, one goal’ kind of guy and when games are tight and chances are at a premium he won’t always convert. It might end up costing us come May.
I tell you what though, isn’t it nice having Mesut Özil in God team? He had another good game, got another great assist and is every bit the superstar right now. I love his ability to retain possession, but I love his vision even more and on a day in which we never really looked like getting anything from the game, he stepped up and broke a Premier League assist record.
So perhaps we shouldn’t feel too down today. We played a Spud team at their best, with a depleted squad and had a number of players who underperformed, yet we have still come away with a point. We are no worse off because City drew away to Villa and hopefully the international break can see some players returning back to the squad. When we do resume Premier League action though, we have about four or five Premier League games before we play City in December at The Emirates though, so we need to make sure we keep momentum and winning ways going.