Morning all. I must admit I didn’t actually go to the game last night and when I checked my phone after i’d finished what I was doing in the evening, I feel like I dodged a bit of a bullet, because it was a familiar story against United on our home soil. It’s what happens with them against us. It sounds like it was a carbon copy of what happened last season at our place in terms of the way they set up and the way we set up. We wanted control of the ball, they wanted to hit us on the counter and with the pace and players they have, coupled with the joke of a defence we have, we were always going to be in trouble.
Emery named a slightly changed team and in came Maitland-Niles for the injured Bellerin and once again, Iwobi got yet another opportunity to prove to us all that….well….he just isn’t good enough for this Arsenal team. He offers little other than a bit of drive with the ball at his feet but his end product is so pointless it means that where he should be doing most of his work that justifies his inclusion, he just frustrates. I know I’m on the side of Ozil in this debate and many disagree, but nobody can convince me that Iwobi instead of Ozil is a good idea.
You also can’t convince me that uni shouldn’t have an idea of a system and team by now. It’s starting to really worry me. He constantly talks about process and a learning curve, but at what point do we say “come on now man, you need to develop your ideology here”? Because we aren’t seeing it at the moment. I am not going to start calling for his head because that’s mental, but I just hope that he uses this and the rest of the season – which I do think is going to peter out like last season – to start to get his ideology and style in to this team ahead of having his first full summer at the club.
But anyway, the game, which was a familiar story and so predictable it was depressing. I said yesterday that Alexis would score. He scored and Cech probably could have made life a little different for him but the fact that players can break in behind our back line is no surprise and once again you just wonder what the heck we do with our defensive drills every single week. Do they just play ‘keep away’ and then take shots at the ‘keeper? Because that’s what it feels like.
Then what happens could also have been predicted and was again similar to last season – we concede a silly goal just minutes after the first. EXACTLY the same as last season. So you’re two down at home in a big game in the cup and from there the game tone was set. United could use their pace to counter attack us when they wanted but knew they could also sit in defensively and make life difficult for us. The game narrative was in place and when that second goal went in – the fans in the ground probably all knew it at the time – the game was probably done.
We came back as you’d expect, had some chances, got a goal which breathed life, but in a cup game you always have to go for it and much like last season in the league when we went for it and ended up conceding a third, history repeated itself and we had very little left to get back at United with, what with the injuries to the centre halves which effectively changed the way the game played out too.
It’s another competition we bow out in now and leaves just the Europa League to fight for. What’s worse is that we have another two central defenders out injured and although we have other options for Cardiff on Tuesday night, the away trip to City might as well be a write off right now.
And again I’m minded to start thinking about the manager and what options he’s going to get in the summer, because if he had a blank cheque book he’d probably go out and get a couple of centre halves, a right back, maybe another left back, a wide-forward, a replacement for Ramsey in the creative midfield role. I just can’t see that much change happening at Arsenal and that is why I’m now worried that we’re going to stagger through seasons like this season and last season for another year or two. I just hope I’m wrong.
Sorry, not exactly the most upbeat of blogs but it’s difficult to be too excited after a game like yesterday, and a real opportunity missed by the club.
Catch you tomorrow.