Ahh man. Where to even start after a disappointing defeat like yesterday?
Fair play to Leicester. They did a proper smash and grab raid on us at home, but it’s hard not to look at that game and think that the defeat we were dealt last night was entirely of our own making. That game felt like one we were pretty much in control of for large chunks of it, then we do what we do best, which is brain fart ourselves into defeat.
It was always going to be Jamie Vardy that scored though, wasn’t it? I had even said in the morning that I’d resigned myself to it happening like it was fact, so when he came on with 20 minutes to go you’d have thought I’d have sunk lower into my chair, but instead I believed we could still go on to win it.
The problem we have, however, is that we’re quite a bit pants in the final third, aren’t we? That’s where all of our problems are. We can talk until the cows come home about the injury to Luiz and how Mustafi was jogging back and not bothering to track what was clearly going to be a dangerous run by Vardy for their goal, but had we been more clinical in the first half that goal might have just been a footnote on an otherwise uneventful three points at home.
As it is we’re now looking at three defeats this season and a performance that has a lot of us feeling deflated this morning. And I have to say it is the first time I’m looking at Arteta and saying “mate, this one is one you, I’m afraid”.
Because it is. His decision to play the largely ineffectual Aubameyang on the right was bizarre from the start, but also so was the decision to stick with a quite frankly woeful Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman utterly stunk the place out, having stunk the place out in Vienna on Thursday, and if that isn’t a massive siren telling Arteta it’s time to relegate him to a bit part Europa League player, I don’t know what is.
When Aubameyang doesn’t score Arsenal don’t score and thus was true last night and for the first time I’m thinking that this is going to be a very long and tough season. Before last night I was thinking “hmm…we could be in with a chance for a good one” because I think Mikel is a good manager – and I still believe that – but if he persists with some of these odd squad selection decisions then questions need to start being asked. No more free hits Mikel, this one lays squarely at your door, I’m afraid.
The annoying thing is that we started so well. At half time we’d created ten shooting opportunities and we looked decent. Leicester were set up exactly as we knew they would and that was to sit in, defend deep, hit us on the counter. But we never allowed them to string more than a couple of passes together in the first half and our dominance was good. The only problem – and this is going to be a recurring theme this season as we have already seen – is that we are pretty bad in the final third. Hector Bellerin was making some good runs in behind and was found a couple of times, but that was it. With Auba wide right to start we saw little of him and Lacazette might has well have been sitting on the floor all evening. He got a perfectly fine goal that was VAR’d for some sort of weird decisions but if we’re going to lay the blame at the feet of the officials this morning, then we’re missing the real problem here: we are a bit sh*t in the final third.
Saka had a quiet game too but that happens when you’re a 19-year-old. That’s where other players need to step up and simply put we didn’t see enough of it. What we saw was slow, ponderous football in the second half, with players like Ceballos losing the ball, mis-controlling, or just holding on to it too long.
I hope that there are some serious questions asked in the dressing room right now. I hope that Arteta has a proper look at some of these senior players because frankly, some of them were dogsh*te in that second half. It was slow, lacking in creativity, energy, or any kind of penetrating runs when Hector stopped making his in the first half.
Arteta needs to find a solution with his current squad, but that isn’t playing Auba wide right and it certainly isn’t playing Lacazette at all.
We’re two games into this really tough run and we’re already zero for two. Next week end we go to Old Trafford – a ground in which we haven’t won in the league for 14 years – and defeat there will start to make this season look even more uncomfortable. Results are what is needed. we’re not getting that as it stands and that means we look to the manager and the players. Can they arrest what was looking like a positive start to the season? We have to hope so. But more performances like that from the sharp end of the pitch will see another season of mid-table mediocrity I’m afraid.
Catch you all tomorrow.