Monday, 11 May 2009

Arsene gets it spot on

Two emphatic home defeats in five days did not make pretty viewing.

But whereas United is a game we can look back on as being nothing short of disastrous, regardless of the bad luck and poor refereeing decisions, Chelsea was completely different.

This was a nothing game, anybody who argues anything else misses the point completely. This wasn't so much 'after the Lord Mayor's show', more a dead Premiership game at the end of the season. Quite rightly, almost anything pales into significance in comparison with the Champions League semi-final, but to argue this was a game of importance is ridiculous.

Pre-match we were 6 points behind Chelsea with 9 on offer. And we had an inferior goal difference.

So to get 3rd place, we had to beat them, and then hope they also dropped points in each of their final two league games. Against Blackburn and Sunderland. And we had to win at Old Trafford.

So let us be unequivocal, when we look at the sequence of events needed to make this game in any way meaningful, it is clear that this was a dead game.

Yet, whilst The Times this morning accused Arsene of delusion, I didn't think his post-match comments were misguided.

On the nature of the defeat…
“It’s very difficult. You can be very positive or very negative. We lost the game 4-1 which is a major disappointment but I feel going forward we had a very interesting game and created plenty of chances. That is never a 4-1 game, we should have been 2-0 up before they had a shot on goal. On the first free-kick we made a mistake and they scored. Today we missed seven or eight clear-cut chances and on every single mistake we made we were punished.”

And he's spot on. For half an hour the Grove was relaxed because we were passing it around Chelsea. It seemed only a matter of time before we scored. And yet Chelsea had scored three before we'd put it in the back of the net.

So in one sense, Arsene is right. On another day we'd have grabbed the first goal, and a different match would have panned out. Yet the fact we didn't score the first goal is testament to poor finishing.

I'm not going to lay into Theo like Kevin Whitcher does, but the fact remains that he leaves a lot to be desired. I accept he scores the odd good goal and will occasionally provide a great ball in, but he's like a broken watch: he's bound to do something good occasionally.

Indeed, if Diaby hadn't been having one of his customary dreadful afternoons, I'd criticise Arsenal tactically: how many times yesterday afternoon, did they play it down the right and cross it into the box?

Admittedly, eventually it brought a goal but by then, the game was gone. If RVP had come out to the left, rather than being left isolated, we might have been less one-dimensional. I know it sounds like blasphemy, but it was almost reminiscent of watching England:employing the same tactics over and over again with no sense of adaptability.

I grant you we created chances, but is it really a chance when Cech just claims the ball?

The bare facts are these: Cesc is much more effectual in central midfield, where he imposes he influence on the game. Nasri would have given us another outlet on the left. It's all a bit of a mish-mash.

Ultimately, the difference between the teams was clinical finishing: Chelsea scored from their first chance and when Anelka got on the ball, he took advantage.

That's experience. Ade is our top league goalscorer this season with ten goals. And ultimately, that's the difference between the good and the great: making your possession and chances count.

On the surface, this match meant nothing. But within the football shown, I think we saw why it will be another trophyless season. (And also what a key player William Gallas is).

It's been a difficult week.

So keep the faith,


Anonymous said...

how has it taken you this long to realise arsenal only have a plan A?

its been glaringly obvious for most of this season, yet no arsenal fan would recognise a fault in their team

the fact that you need a proper centre-back, defensive midfielder and some general grit and steel has been obvious for 3 or 4 seasons now.

all of a sudden, wenger realises, and hes a genius, the broken man who finally sees the light and knows how to make it better.

this is utter tosh. youve been like this for years. what is the difference between arsenal and the other top four teams? they all have some grit and determination, and they know when to be fancy and when to be plain. that is what is wrong and what has been wrong for a while now, and its ridiculous that wenger has taken so bloody long to realise.

Anonymous said...

how does a broken watch do something good occasianally?! its broken, it does nothing...

Adam said...

Because it will tell the time right twice a day...

Anonymous said...

Some valid pointsn but I dont believe wenger has gone anything spot on recently!
We will never win anything again under wenger...mark my words. This will all end in tears!
Oh and get ready for another summer of bulls**t when he talks about our young generation.
A) I honestly believe united have better youngsters coming up.
B) The top three are pulling away cos they spend money. Its what you have to do!
But try telling that to this stubborn man.

We're screwed.

Keeping the faith...just.