Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oh Mental Strength Where Art Thou

Finally I will accept that we're out of the title hunt. This Arsenal team has forced me to believe that we're not even good enough to finish second in the league. Yesterday away at Bolton, once again we had around 70% possession but still managed to have less shots on target than them foul-playing orcs. Arsenal has conceded most goals from set-pieces in the top flight (56% via @Orbinho) and that's another ugly feather added to our ill-shaped cap of this season.

We started the game brightly, with couple of shots from outside the box and a long chip from Robin to Theo. For a moment I believed that Bolton will be at the receiving end of things but as Arsenal always do it, they proved me wrong. Wojciech made a superb save at our end but Sturridge poked in from the resulting corner. We tried to do something about it but couldn't manage it until the second half when Robin neatly finished with a good cut back from Cesc inside their box.

During the entire second half we had them under the cosh but were not able to create a proper scoring opportunity. Arshavin was subbed in the 70th and won few corners. But we were again incapable of taking any advantage of them. In the end it was "deja vu all over again" when Chesney made a brilliant save but them orcs scored from the resulting corner mainly owing to some poor marking. Djourou had a terrible game at the back, consistent fouls and some horrible decision-making. He has been playing at a good level but yesterday he was someone else, like a deer in front of the headlights who doesn't know whether to go forward or back. Clichy played his normal game, switching off time to time, no tracking back and losing the ball at crucial points in a move. Sagna didn't look fit to me. He is just back from his injury and I believe that he's playing through the pain. For me only Chesney had an excellent game and rest of the team was just par or may be below.

When you look back at our season (which is not over yet), the real positive is the emergence of Jack and Chesney. They duly embody the never-say-die attitude and their energy has been the only solace to the bereaved fans. If only our other players had shown the same courage, we would have been close to winning this title. But mental strength is part of an athlete's talent and not everyone has it. I also follow professional road cycling and one of the top riders Tom Boonen once said in his interview that good riding technique and physical strength are skills but mental strength is a talent. When you have both, you become a winner. Boonen is not my favorite rider but what he said is absolutely true.  It's difficult to have 11 mentally strong players in a team  but if you have few key players who have the self-belief and the hunger to win, they can rally the others and collectively become a dogged unit. Self-belief/mental strength comes from performance and to perform you need self-belief. It's a vicious circle and I don't have a solution for it. One thing has become very clear that this team is not yet capable of winning titles and miss something very important. I couldn't put my finger on it but hope Arsene identifies the problems and rectify them over the summer. After all, Arsene knows.

No comments:

Post a Comment