Monday, October 3, 2011

When the going gets tough, we stop going

Spuds 2-1 The Arsenal

A friend once asked me why do I watch football when it makes me miserable and I told him that's the whole point. Easier said, it was another heartbreak in the North London Derby, another defensive nightmare at Shite Fart Lane. We had feared our inability to defend as a team and lack of understanding at the back, ultimately both together cost us the game. I was extremely nervous before the start and wanted Arsenal to avoid defeat at any cost because the vitriol from fans after a loss would be unbearable. I had hoped that in the wake of the battle of bragging rights, our players would step up their game and grind out a positive result but instead they rolled over.

The performance was out there to be witnessed by everyone. We bossed the possession (I hate to write this after every single game) but created fewer chances than Lillywhite scum. They were dangerous whenever they moved forward thanks to our hapless defense. But then one can't blame Song for the situation because he didn't cause injury to four of our center-backs. He played out of position and was better going forward when he created our goal for Ramsey. I was worried about Sagna after his midweek performance. Against Olympiacos he looked lethargic and a player in dire need of rest. With Spuds' pacey baboon-faced winger he found it difficult and paid a heavy price when he landed awkwardly in an aerial duel. One can't survive with a makeshift, out of sorts defense against top teams in the league. We were repeatedly exposed at the back and were saved an 8-2 proportion scoreline thanks to Chesney's terrific goalkeeping.

Ramsey cut a confused figure in our midfield where he was in an early Christmasy mood and gifted the ball uncountable times. He has had an up and down start to the season and whenever it has come to a crunch, Aaron has crumbled. His philosophy of running the ball in the goal will not work until there are 5 Barca-esque players in our team or when Wilshere is back. A more direct approach in front of the goal will do wonders for him. Like him, Gervinho had a game to forget where for majority of the first half he remained uninvolved. I agree it was more due to Tottenham's formation but real effort is always clearly visible. After the first half, it was heartening to see Arsene bring him in the center which helped us equalize. But soon after we lost the initiative. There was a period when Van der Twat was just ambling on the pitch and it was a real opportunity for us to pressurize the opposition and look for a winner. Instead we relaxed and let them come back into the game with Sandro. It would be overly ambitious to say that we deserved a point from the game but young Coquelin certainly didn't deserve to be on the losing side. He played spiritedly but was let down by his teammates. Similarly Robin wandered around the pitch aimlessly with little to no supply to him. The excitement of starting a season with Arsenal will now gradually transform into apprehension.

Nigel Winterburn on ESPN reaffirmed the knowledge that Arsene is the sole in-charge of training and drills. He mentioned that Pat Rice has very little to do with the playing methods or defensive homeworks so berating him for the amateurish defensive performances is unreasonable. The buck stops with Arsene and he has to take some concrete steps to bring life to this Arsenal defense. Chronic injuries (even Miquel was injured) and mediocre quality hasn't helped his cause but at this moment we need to build our game starting from the back. After what feels like a long time we have a world class goalkeeper but now his colleagues are letting him down. Our next game is with Sunderland at the Emirates and with a defense like ours, Bendtner would be looking forward to stick the knife in a little bit more. With players away on international duty, Arsene will have little time to work with them and so the break is not really beneficial. The only solution I can think of is to play defensively, stop the passing football and resort to long balls for scoring goals. It will never happen with Arsene but then nothing else is working. Things need to be shaken up at the club otherwise it will be curtains very soon for our season.

"Little by little by hook or by crook"

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