well there are some things in life that feel as certain as death and taxes and, right now, Arsenal drawing and Burnley fans booing absolutely anything they could possibly muster are such things.
Yesterday’s 0-0 was our 13th in a season that has seen us only lose six games, but only win six and these draws have completely derailed our domestic season if we’re all honest. The failure to convert chances, despite having last season’s top scorer Aubameyang in the side, has been our downfall and once again we succumbed in the North West.
Burnley aren’t a great side. They’re disciplined, physical, hard to break down. But we still should have made the most of the chances we had. Twice Auba was in on goal and fluffed his lines. He missed a glorious opportunity in the second half with a header, whilst his strike partner Lacazette continued his impression of a professional footballer with another performance that stunk the place out.
At the other end of the pitch we can say that we picked up a clean sheet, but let’s be honest here; it was but a few whiskers and a crossbar away from being very difficult.
The team news Arteta went with had some surprises. No Torreira, no Pepe, no Sokratis, with Mustafi returning, Guendouzi keeping his place and Auba coming in for Pepe. Auba started on the left with Gabriel Martinelli on the right and it’s fair to say that the Brazilian had one of those games that you expect from a young kid. It’s fine, he has credit in the bank given his age and given some of the performances and how he’s stepped up in recent weeks. But you can’t say the same for some of the other senior players. Lacazette was anonymous. In fact, he was worse than that, because he gave the ball away a number of times too and I think we’re now at the stage in which we need to think seriously about whether he deserves to be starting. He hasn’t scored since early December. He hasn’t scored away for over a year. He’s not offering much else in his game and the last few games have shown that. We need to be hooking him, playing Aubameyang centrally, with pacey wide-forwards either side of him as runners.
I’d also probably say that Willock probably deserves a shot behind the front three too, because Ozil put in another pretty poor performance and was nowhere near as influential as a player of his stature should be. He is a chance creator, yet he’s not creating chances, so with that in mind I think like Lacazette Arteta should be making some tough decisions on some of these players.
Yesterday’s game showed that we’re limiting the opposition in terms of defensively, but it feels like it’s coming at the expense of our attacking outlet. Or perhaps our attacking outlets just aren’t very good? Pepe has flattered to deceive, I’ve already spoken about Ozil and Lacazette and Auba has been the only consistent end-product player we’ve had all season. The team has two week’s and a winter break to sort their sh*t out and I hope Arteta takes advantage of this.
And speaking of Arteta, yesterday was the first time where I thought he got a few things wrong. Guendouzi was poor I thought. Having him in there instead of Torreira didn’t really work and I hope we revert back to the Uruguayan and Xhaka for the home game against Newcastle in a couple of weeks. We need to. He’s shown flashes of good stuff but he’s nowhere near consistent enough and yesterday was another example of that. It was also a team selection that baffled a few and I think this was the first game where in the second half we didn’t really seem to have an answer to Burnley’s physicality and getting the ball into the box from wide positions.
Mustafi played well, I will say that, as did Luiz and I guess we can take that positive, along with the fact that Bellerin got another match under his belt. Hopefully after the break Kolasinac is back too, because Saka went off injured and I suspect he might be due a spell on the side, sadly.
It’s not fun watching us in the league at the moment. The honeymoon for Arteta ia over and we’ve seen some green shoots, but we need to get back some of that positivity with some wins, because these draws are doing my brain in. They’re not even draws against good teams. The Premier League is awash with averageness this season and there are so many teams that we should have easily put to the sword. instead we’ve fannied around with mediocre performances from some players who should be delivering more. This season is done for, we all know that, but these players need to be showing what could be for next season and, right now, I’m not seeing that from some of them. Certainly some of the bigger names.
Catch you peeps tomorrow.