Morning folks. It’s a good job this season is an utter write off, because otherwise we’d be proper fumin’, eh?
I am, of course, talking about the the complete bore-fest that was yesterday’s 1-1 draw with a pretty average Sheffield Unite dream yesterday.
They’re average because apart from discipline, shape and a scrappy goal bouncing down off the ground to deceive Leno, they picked up their fourth point of the season against an Arsenal team who have a few injuries and a lot of issues without certain players.
Chiefly the absence of Aubameyang who, if we’re honest, is so many levels above Lacazette it is depressing beyond belief. The Frenchman works hard, hustles and harries, but his form is so bargain basement right now it feels like he could run all day and not find the net.
Sheffield United are organised. Sheffield United work hard. Chris Wilder has drilled them well. But the fact that we were so toothless has so much to do with some of our so called “big players” just not showing up – again – as it does their organisation.
I saw very little that impressed me of Özil. I saw very little that impressed me of Lacazette. But I also saw nothing of Nicolas Pepe which suggested that he was one of our big players for the day.
I’ve previously thought that both Emery, Ljungberg and evening Arteta at the start were harsh on the Ivorian for not getting him more game time, but sitting in Dave’s seat for the first time, I got an insight into the movement of Pepe directly in front of me and I have to say I was less than impressed.
He was just so static. When Maitland-Niles had the ball he hardly moved from the touchline and when he did show some very good skill and trickery to beat a man, it rarely ended in end product.
And that’s the problem with The Arsenal right now. We have barely any end product. Beyond Aubameyang, anyway, who is an outlier amongst some underperforming forward players.
And when I say ‘underperforming’ I mean ‘end product’. We seem to have barely any and that was fully evident today. Martinelli got our goal and it was well worked, but I’m struggling to recall any sustained level of pressure on the Sheffield United ‘keeper and that in itself, is a massive worry.
And it’s a worry that Arteta has to solve. The euphoria of the United win has completely diffused following the Palace and Sheffield United Draws and I’ll be completely honest with you – I hold no hope of any kind of positive result away at Chelski on Tuesday.
And that’s because we can’t score goals. Martinelli is doing his bit but the rest of the attacking players are wilting like a collection of white lilies on a warm summers day. Lacazette works hard but is toothless in front of goal and his record away from home is embarrassing. Pepe is hugging the right hand touchline and delivering little. Midfield goals? Chance would be a fine thing.
Have I talked about Özil yet? I can’t recall. That’s how anonymous he was yesterday and despite the initial drive we got from him after Arteta’s arrival, we’ve now had three in a row in which his output has left a lot to be desired of.
The cracks in the averageness of this team are starting to appear and the injuries aren’t helping, which is the only thing that is giving any kind of positive right now. The hope is that Arteta will see some of these players and either bin them off or find those that can play his way but what we’re looking at right now are some players on a lot of money who need to be canned. This squad needs a refresh and the new manager bounce is wearing off.
And yet for all my negativity there were some positives. I thought Saka and Maitland-Niles did ok. I thought both centre halves did ok, although I’m writing this without having seen any re-runs of the game (and at this rate I don’t think I’ll bother). Midfield did ok too. We go skanked on a goal from a Sheffield United team that did little in the second half but we also didn’t take advantage of the better football that we were playing after halftime.
It’s that front line which is scarily bland. Even the introduction of hard-running Nketiah offered little and we’re now at the point in which I wonder whether a reboot of the whole side is needed. We all talked about the juicy prospect of Auba, Laca and Pepe when the Ivorian arrived, but only one of three has even played within 25% of his potential and that is also costing us matches.
The reality of the task ahead for Mikel is clear. Some of these players may not be up for it. This season is still in the doldrums but we need to correct some of the shoddy form we’re seeing from individuals.
A final thought on VAR. it’s a pile of shit. I’ve watched the Pepe foul and it’s a penalty. So, once again, we’ve been shafted. Just like as Brammall Lane with Sokratis we’ve been done over and I’m beginning to wonder why the fuck constitutes any kind of consistency this season. Because it seems to change from week to week.
More thoughts tomorrow.