A weekend has come and gone and yet again Arsenal draws a match that we should have won. After the convincing win over Aston Villa last week, spirits were high that we could face the Spuds at home and leave the day with three points. I for one was jumping at the bit to watch this match and I had a dilemma to contend with.
I am not a superstitious person at all. I don’t believe in bad luck or anything like that, yet on the morning of the match I decided that I should stay home rather than go to the pub. For every match I viewed at home so far this season, Arsenal got a decent or good result and every match at the pub resulted in a terrible performance. So I put on my Arsenal shirt, made breakfast and played my pre-game FIFA 15 match of Arsenal vs. Sp*rs. A 3-0 win with goals from Cazorla, Sanchez and Ramsey gave me a stupid false sense of confidence as the minutes ticked towards kick off. Needless to say, what resulted was anything but that video game performance.
Isn’t it humorous how we can assign value to intangible, unrelated actions of an individual, miles away from a game of randomness played on a pitch with humans completely incapable of knowing that you are performing said action? My decision to stay home made no difference in the outcome of the match and my video game result makes no mark in how a team can play in real life. Yet somehow in my mind, it gave me solace and a sense of control no matter how asinine it appears others. It reminds me of a beer commercial (not sure if it is Bud Light or Miller Lite) which shows various fans performing superstitious actions in hopes that their team will win. It is not like those players knew that I stayed home, or another fan didn’t wash his lucky jersey, etc. Ox didn’t wake up and say, “Brandon in Charlotte, NC isn’t going to the pub today. We must win now.” Crazy I know, but it goes to show the desire to feel connected to the team and hope that in some small way, you have an impact in how a collective group performs on the day.
The match itself wasn’t anything really to commend. We had plenty of possession, especially in their half and 15 corners, that barring a good header from Mertesacker that Lloris saved quite well on the line, we didn’t appear like we would score. We went down a goal because of poor play from Flamini. Szczesny played the ball quickly to Flamini who was bundled by Lamela and Chadli finished making it 0-1. As usual, we were the instrument of our own destruction and again we were down a goal to the oppositions first shot on target. Ox got a goal to make the game 1-1 later but we couldn’t find the game winner. 1-1 was the final and not good enough at home to a weak Sp*rs side.
The result wasn’t event the worst part. We have lost Arteta and Ramsey to injury and Wilshere almost added to that growing list of injured players taped to Shad Forsythe’s door. Arteta is expected to be back for the Hull match but Ramsey will be out for at least a month. It is alarming that players rested in midweek were the ones who got injured. Luckily we have players in midfield that can come in and do the job. The ultimate question is: can we play a match without suffering an injury to a key player?
Debuchy, Giroud, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Diaby (it is only a matter of time), Sanogo, Monreal and Gibbs are all players who have been out for this season so far at some point and we are just 6 matches in. We cannot afford to have players out injured continuously all season. Last year, these injuries cost us the title and as it stands now, we are already off the mark. Injuries and draws are only going to put us further behind the title contenders.
Another alarming trend is the decision to keep playing Özil out left, where he has been ineffective for us, rather than centrally. Against Villa, it was Özil who was the maestro of the Arsenal orchestra and he performed so well that I was positive that Wenger would make the same move again. Instead he put him out left and voila, another lackluster draw. Of course, we can’t place all the blame on Özil. It has to fall on Wenger, who also left out Sanchez in favor of Ox.
Ox played very well. I will not take that from him. He is one of our only players right now who looks willing to take a shot from anywhere. He also makes runs at players and forces mistakes from defenders. Despite this, this is a match that Sanchez should have started. He is no stranger to tough derby. Barcelona and Real Madrid play El Clasico every year and it is one of the most watched matches in the world. His inclusion late on changed the match completely. We looked more likely to score the equalizer and get a winner with him on the pitch. Leaving him out was an incredible blunder from Wenger and a baffling move.
We have a match against Galatasaray and Chelsea at the weekend, which are two matches that are not looking good as we stand now. Galatasaray at home should be winnable, but our threadbare squad makes me nervous. We cannot commit too much midweek if we expect to get a result this weekend against Chelsea. I cannot stress how much I want to beat Chelsea this weekend. I almost want this win more than a win over Spuds (I said almost) because of how badly I want to put last seasons result to bed. The 6-0 loss was hard to take.
We have to start making up points in the league. We cannot keep dropping points to inferior opposition like Spuds and Leicester. We need to make a stand against Chelsea, and have this squad play like I know they can play. We saw glimpses of a dangerous attacking side against Manchester City, Villa and even parts of the Sp*rs match but until we can start stringing those performances together and grind out wins, we will continue to lose ground to the league leaders and see our season over before it truly began.
Here’s to a win against Galatasaray and Chelsea. I will make sure to ignore any superstitious ideas in my head like I normally do and go back to my usual Arsenal viewing routine: cheer on twitter than vent like crazy for 90 minutes while I avoid having a heart attack because a poor back pass gifts Chelsea a goal.
Until Next Week,
Up The Arsenal!