With no proper football taking place this weekend, I don’t know about you, but I’m still stewing on the missed opportunity that was the North London Derby. It’s fairly obvious it was a missed opportunity too. Everything I’ve read talks about how Tottenham will have been happier with the point, how they have shown that they can perform without Harry Kane, but I didn’t really see a side that was so impressive that it will go the entire season unbeaten and sweep the league. I saw a well organised, well-drilled, Spud side that had a bit of fortune with a silly penalty that should never have happened.
Which is why it’s such a missed opportunity. But what’s more disappointing, I think, is that the players simply couldn’t deal with a slightly different formation put out by the opposition. This is something Theo talked about post-game, and I couldn’t help but be annoyed at the prospect of teams being able to neutralise Arsenal by doing something different. Are Arsenal that one dimensional that a slight shift in pattern by an opponent has us flummoxed? Are we that rigid in our own understanding of our opponents?
Perhaps not. Perhaps this was just a one-off. Or two off if you consider the Middlesbrough game. But should we start to see more of it over the coming weeks, then you have to start questioning the analysis that is being done on the opponents. This could be an isolated incident though, because I’m pretty sure Tottenham haven’t played three at the back before under Pochettino, so perhaps this change of style is nothing the team could have done. And to be fair to the team, after the first 25 minutes we did grow in to the team, so had we cooled our heads for the first fifteen minutes of the second half, we might have been OK to shut out the Tiny Totts.
But I just have this niggly feeling, you know? This feeling that teams will be finding ways to stifle us. Our next game is against a Jose Mourinho team and whilst they won’t be completely defensively minded against us in their own back yard, he will have noticed how well both Boro and Tottenham neutralised us.
There’s also the fact the we’re in this most cursed of months. It would be nice to put this hoodoo to bed by having an amazing November, but it hasn’t exactly started brilliantly, has it? We scraped by against Ludogorets, we performed poorly and flat in a North London Derby, and for the first time ever we’re all pleased that there’s an international break coming up. Wouldn’t it have been good to do all of the mid-season internationals now, eh? I’m sure that’s something every Arsenal fan could get behind!
Still, let’s try to be a bit more positive, which starts with the noises of Hector Bellerin reportedly on the verge of signing a new deal. If that happens, then it will be fantastic news for the club, because it would secure his immediate future and put pay to any January or summer machinations that Barca would inevitably have about getting him back playing for them. We’ve seen it all before; complete with full DNA parsing and front-and-centre tapping up from players, the media and alike in Catalan, but I like to think a number of factors have played their part in Hector committing to us:
- He really likes playing for Arsenal
- He has seen how the Catalan press have hounded out former Arsenal players
Added to that the fact that only Thierry has been a remotely successful signing for them after Petit, Overmars, Hleb, Song, Fabregas and Vermaelen have all been signed, perhaps has finally started to put Barca off from poaching our players.
In fact, you only have to look at that list and their subsequent careers at Barca, and you wonder how much of the Emirates Stadium the Catalans have helped to pay off.
So with Hector about to commit, what would really be lovely would be to see Özil and Alexis do the same, because the longer their contract situation drags on, the more likely it looks like they are stalling until next summer. With a year left from June 2017 on their deals, you know the club will have a problem on their hands, so hopefully their moving heaven and earth to get them to commit this side of Christmas.
There’s really not a lot else going on at the moment. It’s always like that in the run up to the internationals, but the poor result on Sunday feels like it’s even slowing down time itself. I guess we just have to hope that we can get through this break without too much pain, or key players getting injured. The news that Özil might be rested will be welcome though. You’ve got to love those Germans and their common sense. Maybe a bit of that shared out at the FA wouldn’t go amiss?
Righto, off to work, so I’ll see you when I see you.
Or blog you.