As I said on last night’s Same Old Arsenal podcast, the one word that keeps ringing through my head both yesterday and this morning:
I’m frustrated at the performance. I’m frustrated at the injuries. I’m frustrated at the silly concession of our goals. I’m frustrated at the media narrative about how awesome this Postecoglou Tottenham team is.
They played well. They all collectively had a better performance than some of our players and they knocked the ball around much better than any of the previous iterations of The Scum i’ve seen for many years. However, even with that caveat, the goals that they scored were still heavily reliant on us making mistakes to open them up. For the first goal Saka let Maddison slip by him far too easily and then the cut back for Son to get in there in between three Arsenal defenders was poor. Then for their second goal it was a silly error from Jorginho (who was really poor in that second half) that forced the turnover when our players were out of position and for Son to stroke the ball home. You take away those sloppy bits of defensive play, plus have some of our players with their shooting boots on, then I think that is a very different game.
It certainly should have been after Gabriel Jesus blasted over having robbed Maddison of the ball in their box. That moment feels like it could – and should – have been a difference maker and I’m sorry, but you have to bury those chances when you get that opportunity. We all love Gabby J’s energy and the way in which he hurries and hassles defenders, but a proper elite clinical striker buries that and the fact he didn’t even hit the target is poor in my opinion.
That chance came after we’d worked our way in front from Saka’s shot that was deflected in off Romero and when that goal went in on 26 minutes I think we were good value for the lead. The Scum had fashioned one or two half chances, but I don’t remember too much in that first half to be worried about. We kept them at arms length, there was one very spectacular save from Raya after he palmed away a Johnson shot, but that had felt like it was it. Most of the territory and possession was in their half in the first 45 and we were worthy of being one up. But again, as I’ve already mentioned, we shot ourselves in the foot with the first, then the second goal and whilst Saka once again didn’t have a great game, he was still the main goal contributor for us on the day, forcing the first goal and slotting home the penalty for the second one.
So the players trot out for the second half and from my seat the murmurs started to reverberate. No Rice. Vieira had also gone off. The Rice one it was clear was an injury; you don’t bring on Jorginho for Rice for tactical reasons and as it transpired it was that change which had a very big impact in that second half. Isn’t it just the most Arsenal thing ever though, eh? Declan Rice picks up zero injuries and is the most available player West Ham have ever known, but he comes to The Arsenal and is injured after his eighth official game for the club. The Colney injury curse strikes again; we had the same thing with Thomas Partey and the Emirates era appears to be littered with examples of players who are perfectly fine before they join us and then they become injury prone when they sign that Arsenal contract.
Rice hadn’t been amazing up until that point, but he is a significantly better player than Jorginho and especially against a side looking to transition on to us, I was worried from the first minute of that second half kick off. A player of his experience shouldn’t be caught dallying on the ball like that and hopefully the Rice injury is not a long term one. We need him back asap because there doesn’t sound like there is any noises about Partey being fit any time soon. And this is the crux of some of the frustration as well today, because all of a sudden we have a bit of an injury crisis going on. People can talk about the marvel of ‘Angeball’ all they like, but yesterday from the second half we had missing from our first team:
That’s a fair chunk of first teamers who make an impact on our team and without them we had to go Gabriel Jesus wide left and then Eddie Nketiah through the middle, who had a really poor game I thought. We all like Eddie as a person, we all want him to do well, but I’m just not seeing a guy who I think could take over the mantle of an elite striker for one of the best teams in the league right now. I just don’t see it. He barely got a sniff yesterday, he ran in to channels but didn’t really get anywhere, he offered very little goal threat and he’s not the type of guy who takes the game by the scruff of the neck. There was one opportunity in the first half when he was in but, up against a tight angle, his finish was straight down the throat of the Tottenham ‘keeper when a slot back to Vieira would have given him a nice wide open goal to smash the ball in to. It wasn’t good enough and I think Arteta should be thinking about what he wants to do in that centre forward position, because we aren’t getting maximum output from our strikers who play in that position and I think most of the Gooners I talk to on and offline feel the same way.
It was a really frustrating day, it is another two points dropped at home and with Man City looming on the horizon in a couple of weeks, it does feel as though we still haven’t properly clicked in the league. The midweek in the Champions League against PSV was good, but that feels like the only game so far this season when we have been ‘on it’. I get that we are controlling games more, but it doesn’t feel like we’re doing it whilst putting other teams to the sword.
More work needed on the training ground for the manager.
Catch you all tomorrow.