For once this season could Arsenal give us a couple of good consecutive performances so I stop having to write positive negative entries? This is ridiculous. We faced Burnley and Anderlecht since my last post and we got a win and a draw. So, how can it all be bad? Easily after a win late in the match against Burnley and a 3-3 draw with Anderlecht at home after leading 3-0 just after halftime.
Our match against Burnley was actually a good one. Two goals from Alexis and one from Chambers sealed a win for the Gunners. It was a solid performance. Defensively, we looked comfortable and were excellent in possession. The only real problem is our lack of attacking threats. After the 2-1 win over Anderlecht, where we won in the last dying seconds, I was eager to see if Arsenal would ramp up the attack to not leave it so late. Unfortunately, this did not happen and we left it late, but no need nitpicking over an overall comprehensively positive performance.
I am writing this in the evening after the 3-3 draw at home with Anderlecht where we scored two in the first half and one early in the second. It seemed like we were finally getting our act together and going to run away with the match. I was at work, busy and after 30 or so minutes I check the score and see 3-3. I did a double take and sat back dumbfounded that we blew a 3-0 lead! AT HOME! What do we have to do to close out a game?
Reading the post match reactions on Twitter, I noticed a few observations made by our very levelheaded and very vocal fans:
We are clearly lacking something in this team. It permeates through the stands and the pitch. The cutting edge is missing. Our squad isn’t putting teams to the sword offensively. We aren’t shutting down the attacks of other teams. The Emirates should be a fortress that strikes fear into the hearts of other clubs. We are the Arsenal. We have cannons adorning the stadium. The walls should be like battlements and ramparts of a medieval castle. The stands should be filled with the voices of thousands of singing knights, cheering on the cavalry that is the Arsenal.
The home crowd is full of silent mouths, eager to pounce on a misplaced pass or skied shot. The boos are ready to fly out at will just as the negativity pours onto Twitter the minute the match is over. Worse still is the negativity after a win. Starts out “good win, but (insert player name) needs to be dropped because (insert bogus reason born from zero logic)”. I tend to avoid social media after a loss or even a draw because I can’t stand a lot of the poison that seeps through it. I am not happy. I hate losing just as much as the next Arsenal fan, but we have a tendency to claim the sky is falling after every bad day of football. Then after a win, instead of celebrating in the good day, we find ways to make it about how it was a fluke.
It has been a rough season so far. We are still in the Champions League despite the draw, with two matches to play in the group, I am very confident we will advance. We are fourth in the league and still have the FA Cup to play for. We need to look up and see that we can still turn this season around. Our defense looks shaky and aside from Alexis our offense isn’t clicking like it should. Frankly, I don’t know what can be done to fix this except for buy a defender in January, however based on Wenger’s record lately, I am not positive we will do so.
It is matches like this one that show how much we miss Koscielny and Debuchy. We are also missing Vermaelen. I was not happy with us selling him and not getting a replacement. He was knocked out of the pecking order by Mertesacker and Koscielny, who together form a very solid duo. He did his duty the last few seasons as the captain but spending most of the time on the bench. He didn’t complain and did his job when called upon. It was unfair for a player with his talent to waste away on the bench but what is more egregious was letting him go without making a clear signing to replace him. Debuchy was signed to replace Sagna and prior to his injury, impressed me greatly. I think Debuchy feeding Walcott and Alexis on the right will be a godsend when he gets healthy.
Continuing with the defense, Chambers was signed as a young talent, who could fill in where needed and sub from the bench. Yet with injuries to both Koscielny and Debuchy, he is playing musical positions both in center and right back. To his credit, he looks like the real deal. Wenger has made a wonderful signing with him and he will only improve. The problem is he can only fill in one position at a time, which means we have to move Monreal into the center. Monreal is not a center back, and he does not pretend to be one. I think he has been shaky for sure, but he is not alone in this defense and it is unfair to place all the blame on him. Mertesacker doesn’t perform as well without Koscielny, and Monreal is a decent back up left back but is not a center back. The only defenders left are reserve players and that prospect scares me more than Monreal. All these problems could have been allieviated if Wenger would have kept Vermaelen or signed a true 4th choice center back.
Another problem we have is our formations don’t seem to be working with our player’s skill sets, but that is a discussion for another week. We play Swansea this weekend and we need to continue to perform in the league if we are going to right this ship. Alexis is on fire right now and the entire squad needs to mimic his drive and energy. He is outplaying every player on the pitch and doing his best to carry this team. I have said it before and I will say it again. We have talented players on this team, they need to show that class, starting now.
Until next week,
Come on you Gunners!