Arsenal, we just do things the hard way don't we? I am writing this on the back of a frustrating 2-1 loss to Dinamo Zagreb and a relatively good performance against Stoke this past Saturday. But a win is a win and we headed into the match against Zagreb in relatively high spirits knowing that a decent result in the Champions League will put us in the right mind for our trip to Chelsea this weekend. The result was not what we needed.
As we approach the match on Saturday we have to reflect on our current run of form. We have been winning with the exception of the match on opening day and against Liverpool where we got a pathetic draw against a team that is utter garbage right now. We have been winning with some fortunate own goals and our leading scorer only has 2 goals. Walcott has chipped in with one goal and got one in the match against Zagreb. What is alarming is the sheer number of chances we created against Stoke on Saturday and only ended the match at 2-0. Wasteful isn't a strong enough word to describe how pathetic our goal scoring form is currently. We all keep hoping that Alexis is going to get a run going and score buckets of goals but the Chilean is still not looking one hundred percent and frankly he tries too hard by himself each match to make the difference. You have to admire his tenacity but wish the rest of the squad would match that energy.
To be fair, The Stoke match was actually a fairly good one despite our lack of goals. We were tearing through their defense and they simply looked lost as our midfield dominated them with clever passes and excellent runs. We couldn't find the back of the net no matter how hard we tried. Despite this I enjoyed how fluid we looked and I really wanted that fluidity to continue with the exception of adding more goals to the mix. The match against Zagreb was not this. Wenger rotated several positions and it looked as if our chemistry was not right. I have wondered why Wenger doesn't rotate more and maybe this is a reason. Of course it appears that Wenger rotated more than he needed to as he clearly has his focus on the match against Chelsea. I would be lying if I said I didn't agree with putting our effort and energy to the weekend but I do wish we could rotate on a larger scale and not throw our balance so far off.
Wenger has often been accused of ignoring tactics and playing to the opposition in favor of the free flowing and pass heavy game that he prefers. While we all like a nice attacking performance where we play with such precision and ferocity, we have to adjust then things are not going as planned. Our opponents often know that we will attempt to dribble the ball into the net rather than shoot from anywhere. Against Stoke, the squad overall seemed more likely to shoot, even from distance (Kos' shot was a beauty) and this really messed with Stoke's game plan to try and crowd us out. They over-committed and often left holes that were exploited by our faster players. With some clinical finishing that match would have been 5 or 6-0. I have often mentioned how Wenger gives his players free reign to play their way on pitch and while our squad can do this as the match against Stoke was an example, but sometimes it never looks as it it will happen and we give up stupid goals, see the match against Zagreb as an example.
I truly wish Wenger would give more direction to the players on the pitch instead of standing there with his arms crossed and that sullen scowl on his face. I know Wenger wants his players to have the belief in themselves to make it happen but sometimes you have to take the initiative and give direction. Give orders or make a damn substitution before 75 minutes would be a good start. Wenger's stubborn attitude infuriates me to no end. When we are winning 3 or 4-0 and the swift counterattacks and one-two passes are ripping defenses to shreds, than keep it up but stop if we are losing the ball in dangerous areas or are being stretched and exposing our defense. How many times have we watched us play a high line and lose the ball near the center circle because a cute pass was off the mark or we physically get knocked off the ball and before we can react, the ball is nestled in our net and our players are pointing fingers as to who is to blame.
A lot of people have been talking about how badly Chelsea have started the season and as funny as it is you know that Saturday's will be anything but routine. Mourinho isn't going to roll over and let us win because they have been terrible. We need to dust ourselves off from the midweek loss and come back ready to take Chelsea to the cleaners. Our defense has been relatively solid and I expect Coquelin to be back in defensive midfield. Kos and Gabriel will be the center back pairing as Per will not be ready. Bellerin and Monreal as the fullbacks. Ramsey was rested so expect him in the right with Walcott up top and Alexis on the left. Ozil will center and Cazorla alongside Coquelin will probably complete the starting XI. Of course, none of it will matter if we can't find the back of the net. Walcott and Giroud need to be on the training ground practicing their finishing or else we already know the end result.
I could on and on about my frustrations but nobody wants to read that so lets hope that Wenger has a meaningful team talk and our squad is ready to beat Chelsea.
Come on you Gunners. See you at Ri Ra's bright and early.