Arsenal attacking-sort of

Man at the Match, Chary:The Hunter strikes to continue Arsenal slump

A pair of strikes, arising from defensive errors, converted by Schalke’s Dutch forwards condemned Arsenal to back to back defeats last night and set up an AGM that will be feistier than it should have been today.

There was an air of tension around Ashburton Grove suggesting the after effects of the disappointing defeat to the yokels of Norwich were yet to be forgotten by the Gooners hoping for salvation on the European stage last night.

And so it starts And so it starts

It was a surprisingly mild early autumn evening when Schalke 04, the 3rd placed Bundesliga team of the 2011-12 season, arrived to provide a strong test for an Arsenal team stripped of most of the confidence built up from a steady start to the season.

The question was would the Arsenal team roar back from the league setback in Norfolk or would it feel sorry for itself as has been the tendency to do so in the past and serve us up another listless, disinterested performance?

It was expected that the danger man in the opposition would be Huntelaar, a man linked to Arsenal (as has just about any player in the world seeking to have either his wages doubled or a higher transfer fee), as well as his compatriot on loan from the Catalan DNA chasers, Afellay.

The perceived problem with pursuing Huntelaar was that he didn’t get on with a certain ex-Feyenoord player, a question now academic given said Judas’s departure to the scumsters of Old Toilet, however I digress.

Suitably relaxed with several shots of vodka from the usual pre match boozer I made my way to my seat, only a few rows from the front, behind the Clock End goal.

On arrival at my seat the now as expected noisy away fans on European nights seemed to be in fine spirits and their near constant singing was a feature of the night. Their bass drummer drowning out any attempts by the home crowd to get any retaliatory songs started.

We all live in a yellow submarine We all live in a yellow submarine

I’m sure I heard “Yellow submarine” as well as “Roll out the barrel” being sung by them, however by the time I thought I heard them singing a Bananarama song it became clear they must have been Schalke’s own team songs. There were the noisiest away fans I’d seen in many a year and you have to respect them for that.

For Arsenal it was Gervinho who was the focal point of the front three (Podolski and Cazorla being the other two) with the midfield three of Arteta, Coquelin and Ramsey playing in front of a back four of Jenko, BFG, the skipper and Santos.

The game started evenly with there being attacking intent being shown by both sides and both sides suffering from “sideways-itis” in the final third. It was refreshing to see an away side not being defensive and coming at Arsenal which offered up space in the midfield – there was no hint of Schalke adopting a Chelsea like approach or “Parken der busse” in midfield.

Huntelaar was barely noticeable in the first half and Afellay showed his Barca credentials with an appalling dive that earned him a yellow card for simulation, although the there was a sharp intake of breath in Ashburton Grove as the referees decided on the initial penalty claim.

For arsenal while Gervinho seemed to be trying when he did receive the ball he was often isolated and therefore had few options – overall the lack of off the ball movement from Arsenal was disconcerting. When Gervinho did get to fire a cross into the danger zone there was no one there to tuck in what would have been a tap in.

Arsenal attacking-sort of Arsenal attacking-sort of

There were few real chances in the first half for either side and the home crowd seemed reasonably happy to go in at nil nil.

The second half showed little change from the first and the weaknesses in the Arsenal game were becoming more noticeable as the team seemed to show their lack of confidence by a reluctance to venture forward and support attacks, except for one player who shouldn’t have been doing that – Santos.

Where I was sitting the Schalke right winger was running towards me, terrorising Santos and exploiting his positional indiscipline. It was an obvious tactic given to the Schalke forwards to pick away at Arsenals biggest weakness, namely their left flank.

The routine substitution on 70-75 minutes happened with Gervinho being taken off to spare him further embarrassment after an appalling dive of his own in the second half, to join Afellay in receiving a yellow card for simulation. Giroud came on to huge cheers – or perhaps there were cheers for seeing Gervinho being taken off.

The home crowd did seem to transmit their anxiety to the players who performed with little freedom and seemed bereft of any self-assurance.

The attacking endeavour of Schalke was rewarded when a ball chipped back into the Arsenal penalty area after the danger seemed to have gone, lead to clinical strike from Huntelaar to send the sea of blue to my right into an even higher state of frenzy.

I looked left to the lino who offered no get out clause for us with an offside flag as it I later learnt that Santos had played Huntelaar on side.

There was a brief response from Arsenal in more pressure being exerted on the Schalke goal after Podolski (who was roundly booed, as expected, by the away section) and Jenko were taken off to bring on Arshavin and Gnabry; the latter being, to my eyes, an act of desperation. To bring on Andrei and a 17 year old with less than 10 minutes to go smacks of there being no time for them to make a difference. That we barely had a handful of shots on goal demonstrates the ineffectualness of our offensive play on the night.

Sadly Santos then completed a miserable night for himself a few minutes before full time by allowing the Schalke right winger plenty of space to fire in a cross that resulted in a simple tap in for the Barca loanee, Afellay.
This was the cue for a mass exodus from the clock end as Gooners around me had seen enough.

As injury time finished and the final whistle went boos did ring out as the Gooners demonstrated their disapproval and I shuffled off with the bass drummer’s beats pounding in my head, sounding out an unwelcome farewell.

The denouement The denouement

Charybdis1966 (on twitter and Youtube)

This entry was posted in Arsenal, Chary, Columnists and tagged , , , , on by .

About ChärybdÏß1966

As a product of 1970’s Essex I was only ever going to be Arsenal or West Ham – luckily the playground bullies in my junior school were Gooners so given the “choice” it had to be Arsenal. First Arsenal memories are of the Alan Sunderland 1979 FA Cup final when my dislike of ManUre started, which was then turned into an abhorrence by the battle of Old Trafford in the 90-91 season (“You can stick your 2 points up your Arse!”) and it to this day burns brightly as a hatred of all things Red Manc. Match day reporter for 7am where I hope to bring some of the atmosphere of the game and crowd to my reports – I will call the match as I see it at the time – but always from a Gooner’s point of view. Hate reporting on losses but luckily that doesn’t happen often. UTA! On Youtube and twitter as @charybdis1966.

28 thoughts on “Man at the Match, Chary:The Hunter strikes to continue Arsenal slump

  1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1aj

    “…Afellay showed his Barca credentials with an appalling dive that earned him a yellow card…..”

    That was right in front of me and I rated that a stonewall penalty, not a dive. Mannone committed himself way to early and just took Affelay out. I sucked in about 10 litres of air at that moment!

    I agree that Santos was frightening but Gervinho and Ramsey were awful too.

    How can we have got ourselves into a situation where our stock of strikers amounts to Chamakh, Park, Giroud and Gervinho?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori


      We could have had him on loan for us. Instead we’ve chosen to drag out the Walcott issue at detriment to our fure sales price and ith him consign to the periphery as a continued contract rebel.

      AGM should be asking the right questions.

      IMO, we need another craft/technical player preferably @RW to complement (and possibly supplement) Santi. It would have better effect on his game as it will distract the attention of the opposing defense from just him.

      Affelay could play RW and as playmaker as he did with some effect for Barca when called to.

      Instead, he si with Schalke

      Come Jan, I expect we will be flogging off Walcott at discount price. Rather than bring in a top player who can play across the midfield like say Konoplyanka (who won’t be cup tied), Wenger will likely persist on the (admitedly exceptionally talented) Gnabry and (Ryo) as Walcott’s successors.

      This will be a massive mistake. Whislt both have talent and are huge potentials, they are also very young and learning their craft. As such their game will not have the consistency we will need to prosecute ane ffective title push.

      Alas, I just don’t understand the thinking on the Walcott situation.

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Charybdis1966 Post author

    Hi aj, I was at the opposite end so only saw his belly flop into the air and was too far away to see when/if there was any contact. If I was being neutral I would say Gervinho’s dive was worse, but I’m a gooner so I’m biased !!

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Simon

      Curiously both dives were in front of me.
      Like aj I thought both were pens – I did wonder if the ref decided that Affelay forced the contact (needless to say I havent bothered with highlights), but even if Affelay did dive it was suicidal defending that, had Affelay been honest would have led to a pen
      I guess it does highlight the difficulty the refs have in spotting the dives (although I am in row 26 of the upper tier so a fair way back)
      For Gerv I thought there was contact but am happy to accept that it was a mirage.
      The performance was inept and lack lustre in the flesh. Some familiar faults – too narrow, too static passes too flat not giving teh runner a chance t take the man on; I like Ramsey but he did have the sort of game the nay sayers drool after – two crosses both way overhit (although one I thought he did well even to get anything on it); an incisive thought (2nd half at 0-0 to put Gerv(?) through) with woeful execution and then the header to nowhere in the box just a lot of strange decisions.
      Really not sure what the answer is!

  3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1tino

    Thanks for the match report.

    I was disappointed to read that fans ‘cheered’ Gervinho off. Lots of fans claim that as long as player tries they are happy but, that’s pretty far from the truth. I don’t think you can fault his effort, except for the dive. I personally feel the team isn’t creating chances.That includes midfielders, wingers and fullbacks. Maybe Tim can share if there has been a drop on that front as well.

  4. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Kelvin

    It must not have been very nice for Gervinho, but his performances have just been so far below what is expected that working hard isn’t enough (as a thought exercise, imagine if one of us got onto the pitch. No matter how hard we try we will, and ought to, be booed for our total lack of skills).

    And while we haven’t created enough chances, Carzola did play Gervinho in twice with absolutely gorgeous passes only to have him squander it with his lack of control.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

      Gervinho strikes me as a “luxury” player. He’s great to have as a secondary option. He beats defenders, can create dangerous situations but lacks the composure, awareness, and for lack of a better word, that cold blooded clinicalness to be a consistent match winner. He was put behind the Schalke defense twice and both times, couldn’t even create a shooting chance for himself or a teammate. If your only going to get a couple of decent chances to win a game, I can think of a handful of players I’d rather take them than Gervinho. And it’s not the first time that a poor first touch or decision squandered a dangerous position. I daresay that Theo or Poldi would’ve done better from those opportunities.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Gervinho is effective when properly supported.

        We put a pacy striker to presumably break quickly before Schalke can regroup, expecting them to have some adventure coming at us.

        But instead os supporting him with pace on the flank, we put on Ramsey.

        if you want a luxury player at the moment, look no further than Ramsey.

        I am struggling tosee where his best position is.

        He can’t play RW as he negates our width by coming in field.

        He can’t play supporting Arteta. Whilst good going forward, he lacks recovery pace when the ball gets turned over.

        He can’t play Areta’s role Can’t play LW

        Perhaps his best role is as a playmaker but Santi, Rosicky and Jack are probably all ahead of him.

        Where does he play? I hear there’s a opening at LB.;)

  5. Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

    Said it before and saying it now, really enjoy the Man at the Match posts, so thank you again Chary. Wish the match or at least the result was as good.

    Is there any real explanation for this desultory display? Only three losses in all competitions is no reason to panic at least in absolute terms. But relative to everyone else’s form we’ve already dug ourselves a hole.

    I don’t where exactly we are in the league table because I don’t want to know. It seems the easy days of being a Gooner are a long way away right now.

    What do people think of comments at the Shareholder’s Meeting?

    CYOG, where’s The Arsenal? Let’s be ‘avin you…

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1ArseChicago

    I’ve not commented much over the last year or so, mostly because I grew tired of saying the same things for the last handful of years since the move to the Emirates. But we’re exactly where many of us saw us going. Until we stop shopping at the bargain bin, until we eschew the relatively socialistic philosophy on player wages, until we clear out no less than 10 players and maybe use those wages on 3 really, really good players, the club will continue to field a weakened and increasingly inconsistent set of players. Feel free to call it an overreaction. But at the same time, be honest and acknowledge the club’s under-reaction to what is happening on the pitch.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Careful, bargain bin also means a playe like Santi.

      The price of the player is not the problem. Arsene’s philosophy there and practical ability is fundamentally sound for our set up.

      What we are having a problem with is retention of Top performers.

      Song illustrates this to painful effect. Here’s a player 3 seasons left on contract wanting a raise from 50K to 80K (Walcott current level). And a player who contributes both defensively and offensively plus has recently come good for us.

      But we let him go rather than put him to task and keep him for another season at vey least to give the younger players (Coquelin) more space to work in effectively (and not at expense of the squad)…I’d like to say at this point Couelin did well BTW.

      We are now effectively relying on the fitness of a 30 year old Arteta to carry most games through to end of season. Insanity!

      Put yourself in RVP (or Sagna’s) shoes. They want a stable squad to push forward. Surely that did not help convince the dutchman to put his lot with us (biger pay check at United granted)

      We keep having to reinvent ourselves every season start and this is effectively decreasing our chance of success vis-a-vis the top two trophies (Title and CL)

      This is the problem.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Charybdis1966 Post author

    Thanks 1NTTA, as for your question, it could be combination of many factors – Schalke knew we were a team reeling from a defeat to unfancied opposition in the shape of Norwich and we vulnerable. The lack of confidence was evident when the early optimism of the opening 10-15 minutes attacks fizzled out.
    As the anxiety in the crowd grew so the players became more “safety first” and didn’t want to go forward, especially the midfielders who should have been supporting the forward line.
    Those around me couldn’t stifle the groans of each failed attack and if you magnify that for the whole stadium it had the subconscious effect of stopping some of the confidence players from not showing for the ball, hence the lack of off the ball movement.
    Add to that the absence of a few starters or the lack of fitness of one of the key components(Podolski) of the team and Cazorla being stifled, then a result like last night can, and sadly did, happen.

  8. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    Always a pleasure to read your match recaps. It’s too easy to pick on Santos. We know his weakness, and it didn’t look like we gave specific instructions to the players around him to protect him . None of our players covered themselves in glory yesterday.

    I wish I could’ve been in the AGM. I would look AW and IG in the eye and ask them if they think it’s necessary for us to sell our best players every season. The move to Emirates was meant to make us a European super club. Judging at the accolades we’ve gotten for our food, we are more of a supper club. It’s ridiculous. We are doing everything right except for the one area that matters the most. The frustrating thing is that there are no quick fixes. We are always 2-3 players shy. Cesc knew this, Nasri knew this, RVP knew this. It sounds terrible but the more calamitous decisions we make off the pitch, the more mistakes we make on the pitch, and in turn give those guys more justification for making the decisions they did. It kills me as a fan.

    We all know we need to find a way to hang on to our players and make the right moves in the transfer market. We all know we have failed each summer in the last few years to replace the players we have lost. There is not a single Arsenal fan I know who thinks we have done well in the transfer market or built a proper squad in the last few years. If the fans know this, then the manager must know this. He hasn’t acted on it – so I would deduce his interest aren’t aligned with the fans. That is unacceptable.

    I agree with Arse Chicago above. It’s like flogging a dead horse.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      While Santos does need help from those around him, and the end of the day he is a professional athlete with many years in the game and numerous caps for Brazil, not some member of the public who has won a prize to play a few games for Arsenal.
      The mistakes he is making which are costing us should be ones that he himself should be aware of and able to correct. Failing that, the coaching staff need to get in his ear about what he needs to do. To play strikers onside in two games straight is criminal for a fullback and directly related to his lazy approach to the game right now. To be perpetually either too far forward (congesting the offence) or too far back (messing up our offside trap) is quite something.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Wenger chose the cheaper course with Santos.

        I believe we could have got Bastos but he would have been a bit more expensive but also more reliable.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Charybdis1966 Post author

      Glad you like my match recollections NYCGooner, perhaps Santos is best employed as a wing back in a 3 man back line defence, but then Wenger doesn’t like radical formation changes – it took him a while to change from the 4-4-2 he started with to the 4-3-3/4-5-1(or some would say 4-3-1-2) we use nowadays most of the time.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    Gazidis is selling the FFP rules really hard. I have to wonder if there is a plan B in case this doesn’t become as effective of a regulation as he hopes it will be.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      There has been some significant effect for FFP this ast summer.

      Particularly with Italian teams selling their prized assets because of the level of their debt but also City who were a little deeper end with theirs.

      But yeah, I’m not sure if it will be the silver bullet for us.

      OTOH hopefully the ncrease in coming revnue with the stadium naming rights and the shirt sponsor will allow us to increase our maximum on players slightly.

      I don’t think it needs to be big. eg. Leandro Damiao (if proviso none of the ig bys move for him) was touted @ 22m++ when Spurs bid for him. They of course are not in CL (as per usual). I believe is ‘gettable’ for us with hard bargaining @18m (with performance related bonus)

      These are the little margins which may help seal certain deals for top quality players other than waiting for a Santi or Podolki to materialise.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Gooneryank

    Always a pleasure reading the wordsmanship of Chary. Hopefully your next piece will describe a victorious thumping but I have serious doubts. This will be the first time I will not be going to London over the Christmas holiday since 1998. I just can’t justify flying thousands of miles and spending thousands of dollars to watch an uninspired mess.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Charybdis1966 Post author

      Cheers GoonerY and I can sympathise with not feeling motivated to go thousands of miles ot see the team; not so long ago I’d always go to the Canary Islands for Xmas to cheer me up in mid winter – you can’t rely on Arsenal for a pick me up nowadays necessarily.

  11. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    I hate to say it, but we may require Wilshere to save our season.

    Ever since Diaby got injured again, we’ve lacked that a midfielder who can take the creative pressure off Cazorla. Ramsey and Coquelin are okay but in the absence of a consistent threat in our front 3, they are not quite good enough right now. This means that everything has to run through our one creative player. So again, as in the days of Cesc and then RVP, we are far too dependent on one player to make things happen. Wilshere, assuming he can return soonish to his previous level, will hopefully allow Santi a bit more freedom.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      That’s pinning a lot of hope on a player just returning from a long lay off.

      By the time he comes into form, the damage to our season may already be done.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Charybdis1966 Post author

      Hi Eurasia, I always thought it was a pretty risky idea to assume Diaby would ever play more than a handful of games based on his prior record. It’ll take a little/some time for Jack to be back to his pre injury form but I agree we will benefit enormously from his return. We need him bakc the sooner the better.

  12. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    I hope that in two weeks all will be forgotten….

    we would have put ourselves within striking distance of next round of qualifications having beaten Schalke…
    Level on points in the league with ManU…after the win at OT…

    Fucking hope is a bad drug to have…but whats life without that addiction..?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Fine margins in the league. It’s already running away from us.

      Still rectifiable but we have a big mountain to climb now.

      CL loss is a it less damaging.

      But we need to find the right balance for the current team with players available.

      The Gaffer has made some dodgy calls at the moment.

  13. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Poor tactics.

    1) Ramsey was a passsenger. Employing him at RW deprived us of width and pace. HIs propensity to drift in field meant our RW was effectively shut off.

    I would have much preferred Gnabry on to help support the pacy Gervnho particularly on the break, being that Schalke were not shy in coming out f their own half.

    2) Santos was a liability. And that deprived Podolski of full support out left.

    With RW/LW effectively rendered toothles, it came as no surprise that Schalke could commit men to the middle and snuff out our one remaining creative outlet in Santi.

    3) Substitutions were baffling. Bould alluded post match to substituons being pre-determined. if so, it would mean the man on the spot was effectively consigend to battling withoth arms tied behind his back.

    Around 5 minutes into the second half, it was clear that we were muted and needed a spark. Schalke ame in to increase duration in our half. Inevitably, more pressure exerted to our backline increased the possibility of a mishap.

    Quite why we waited to swicth things around till the 72nd minute is beyond me. And I would have thought the prioity being that we were now not creating much would have been to swicth things aroundin midfield before putting on the big man.

    eg. we could have utilised Arsharvin in the middle and switched Santi wide right to revitalise our RW or at vey least put Gnabry on earlier.

    Instead we gave both Anderi and Gnabry less than ten minutes to help turn things around.

    Worst yet, we sacrificed Jenkinson for Gnabry. surely Ramsey was more of a surplus to use? Jenkinson would have at very least tracked Affelay and possibly negated the second. Clearly we did not hee the outcome of Schalke’s earlier game with Dortmund in which Dortmund foolishly went to a 3 mand efense thereby playing into the hands (or feet) of Schalke’s very effective counter game with Affelay and Fanfan.

    Tactics were absolutely poor. I don’t think we can blame this on a lack of depth or quality (granted we are as always 3 players from fully competitive in long haul)

    but we should have had enough to compete against Schalke at home if resources were appropriated to the best advantage of the team. Team dunamics can be easily affected by one or two missing players. Ramsey and Santos were poor and we did not react quickly enough to rectify the situation.

    Lessons clearly still not learnt.

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