Alright? How you feeling today? Still reeling from the sheer lack of application from our players on Sunday?
I sort of am. To tell you the truth, I’m quite glad we’ve got a bit of a wait before the next game, because it’ll hopefully allow absence to make the ol’ heart grow fonder. It’s fair to say that I’m not too fond of Arsenal right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I just think a little bit of space will help me.
What also doesn’t help is the inevitable “we must respond”, “we need to bounce back”, or as Gabriel has put it “reflect and put us back in check“. It’s all a bit boring, though, I’m afraid. We’ve heard all of this for the last decade. For the last two years though, this team has exhibited a painful lack of mental strength when it comes to winning big football matches away from home. I’m pretty sure we’re at the stage in which even the Tiny Totts have a better away record against the top six.
There has to be something wrong with the mentality of the squad though – in these big away games I mean – because there’s no way that any team in the top four should have as shocking records as we do. Not without there being some kind of undiagnosed psychological problem.
I dunno, maybe I’m just still a bit too sore after those two displays last week, and so I’m just getting a little melodramatic. But if I’m thinking about what the problem is and why this keeps happening, surely Arsenal must also be analysing it, right? They’d be mad not to. Sometimes you can put results down to a fluke, a freak incident or something unusual, but when it repeatedly keeps happening you review each case and try to diagnose what common thread runs through it.
Is it mentality after half time? Does Arsène need to do more assessment rather than the well-known reflection he normally prefers? Is it the tactical set up? Does he need to rotate more to keep players fresher if we’re going to try to play the ‘rope-a-dope’ tactic we tried on Sunday?
Whatever it is, we’ll never win the league unless it can be addressed, because as soon as we put a run together of wins we’ll eventually come up against a big side and we’ll once again wilt under pressure. The Arseblogger has offered some positive thoughts this morning and he’s right in what he says about our next half a dozen games: they’re all winnable. But then we have Chelski and whilst I’ll go into the game with all the hope in the world that we can get three points, I won’t truly believe it. I won’t be confident in any way, shape or form, because quite frankly I have no data to back up and kind of confidence.
Last season we beat United at home to arrest a terrible run against them in the league. This season we did the same against Chelski. We have shown that at home the team are capable of results. But this time last week all we could read about our Arsenal side are that they had only lost one away game in 2016. So you’d think the side has a culture of confidence away from home that breeds more confidence? I keep seeing how our toxic home support is contributing towards the problems we have, but there’s no element of that in away games. In fact it’s the opposite. If we go down to an opponent, the away fans will sing even louder, so blaming any kind of team performance on the fans is a complete red herring. Especially when you consider Tuesday night and Sunday’s performance.
To be fair to Arsène, he has always said the fans aren’t the cause behind the team performances, that the players need to give them something to cheer about. Well they’ve got just under a week to work out how to do that by reflecting on what has gone wrong, hopefully not doing a single interview about ‘bouncing back’, then just actually bouncing back against West Brom on Boxing Day.
Just finally, on a non-related football note, let’s all have a thought or two about the horrible news story coming out of Berlin yesterday. I don’t care what religion you have, if you deliberately go out to cause other people injury and death, then whatever god you believe in, will not welcome you with open arms when you think you’re about to reach the gates of paradise. These people are innocent people, going about their lives at a time and f the year in which peace and love is supposed to be at its greatest. You don’t get to paradise by doing what you’ve done. You only get damnation.
Right, that’s me for the day, so I’ll catch you tomorrow.