Arsenal v. Stoke: focus

Something strange happened in the Liverpool game on Wednesday. Something I didn’t notice because I was too busy being distracted by the clown-shoes defending. Something that I had to have pointed out to me.

A friend on twitter asked me if I thought that Jack Wilshere should take some of the blame for Arsenal’s first goal. My first thought was that was a crazy suggestion. We all know that it was Mertesacker-Sagna-Koscielny-Ramsey who were at fault. So he tweeted me two pictures of Jack: one of Jack walking as Suarez ran past him to the ball at the moment that Sagna slipped, and one of Jack standing at the top of the box 8 seconds later.

I went back and watched the bitesized on the dot com and sure enough, in real time, it’s even more obvious: Jack stood there and watched Sagna slip, then as Suarez raced to the ball, Jack skipped back and left Ramsey to deal with Henderson and Suarez, who combined to score.

I asked the question of my followers and this sparked a lot of discussion on twitter, on my Facebook page, and even over here as Arsenal Letters expanded on the point highlighting that Vermaelen was guilty of a similar thing for Liverpool’s second goal. I watched that goal again and sure enough, Vermaelen gives up the chase leaving Santos and Mertesacker to fight Henderson and not only that but it was him jumping the ball that created the space in the first place.

Many people pointed out that Wilshere was providing an outlet, which makes a degree of sense. As the play started, Arsenal looked solid, despite Sagna’s slip. Why would Jack think that he needed to be the 7th defender on 4 attackers? And to be fair, if any one of the four mistakes that happened were corrected, that goal is never scored, and Jack is in fact in the perfect position to start Arsenal’s counter attack.

I’ve seen this before with our midfielders and I’ve almost never said anything because, like many other people pointed out, I’ve always chalked it up to Wenger’s attack-minded play. This is what Wenger was talking about when he said that “we pay the price for our philosophy.”

So, what is it? Do I think Jack’s a grifter? Was it all just down to Arsene’s attacking philosophy? No. But that possession early in the game does illustrate a problem with this Arsenal team, one that everyone in England knows: Arsenal are imbalanced, lack responsibility, and are quite a bit nervous.

Watch that first Liverpool goal again, Wilshere watches as Sagna slips and doesn’t come to his aid. But just as bad, Walcott, supposedly Sagna’s partner and the player who is actually closer to the ball also doesn’t do anything. Wilshere may be guilty for not following Suarez, but then Walcott is just as guilty. And that’s the problem, it’s more than one player who is not switched on to the danger.

If you go back to the first three weeks of the season, Arsenal kept a wonderful 4-4-1-1 shape on defense. But as the season has worn on, the team seems to be getting less organized and as a result more anxious every passing week. For example, Vermaelen is now breaking ranks to attack players with the ball far too high up the pitch or making one of his forays into offense. This is causing havoc in the defense as players try to cover the gaps. And it’s not just him, it’s all over the pitch; Sagna is caught out of position, Wilshere doesn’t seem to know if he should track a runner, Walcott is not covering, on and on you turn the pages of the catalog of loose Arsenal defending.

This leads to anxiety and frustration, errors, and goals. All of which Stoke will be looking to exploit tomorrow. They thrive on creating chaos. They don’t mind if the referee ticks them off for shirt pulling in the box as long as they get away with it once and it causes Mertesacker to lose focus.

Someone at Arsenal just needs to take these boys and say, “calm the fuck down, keep your shape, and don’t go chasing glory.” In the matchday program both the manager and captain said as much. It remains to be seen if they can follow through.



34 thoughts on “Arsenal v. Stoke: focus

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1mike

    Good morning 7amko,
    I agree 100% with your comments and observations today. Sometimes I think back to the Graham era when we were so reliable in defence and it made being a gooner less stressful! I am already on the prayer mat that Pulis and his orcs piss off back to grimsville with no points.

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ignatzuk

    Yep, agree with every word. Walcott as least as culpable as Wilshere for the goal, and something in the squad has happened where we can play as a team going forwards, but not when defending. In defence we are a bunch of individuals taking varying amounts of responsibility (sometimes too much, sometimes not enough), and not working for each other. Positioning, anticipation and decision-making all suffer as a result. And the knowledge that the midfield don’t have their backs puts pressure on the individual defenders and encourages them to make mistakes.

  3. -9 Vote -1 Vote +1sim

    However Monreal turns out he is an unnecessary signing had Wenger got it right first time around when he wasted £7million on Santos. Santos, Park, Squillaci, Chamack, Arshavin, Gervinho. It’s gross incompetence and a waste of money. The Four Forum Fools keep peddling the lie that there isn’t any money even though there is between £50-£70 million available. What they ignore is if according to them there is a shortage how does this clown keep throwing it away. Did anyone ever watch Santos before he was signed. It’s a disgrace the amount of money Wenger has wasted in the last 6 years, over £200 million on appalling players, and to compound it the idiot insists on paying them wages beyond their wildest dreams. We see Jack Wilshere flogging himself into the ground, how long before he is injured again? And at the same time Arshavin on £90,000 per week may as well be on holiday. We can’t get rid of useless players simply because Wenger doesn’t understand the concept of cost benefit analysis. It’s socialist economics in a free market system, still as long as the £7.5million plus profit sharing is intact what does it matter to this conman and liar.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

      It’s funny how even rationally-minded people slate Wenger for not spending, then slating him when he does and it backfires. You can either say well don’t spend unless a player is really worth it – as he seems to have done this window – or say, spend and see – which he did last year. He can never win, poor sod.

  4. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    Games is about to start. Let’s leave the negative comments for after the game.
    Come On You Gooners!

  5. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

    Good spot by your friend on Wilshere. I don’t think you can criticize Vermaelen on the second – he’s thinking the 3 guys around Henderson ought to be able to handle that and his responsibilty is to pick up the next man in & be ready for the ball coming out.

    After 35 minutes it’s the same story – slow start. Despite one or two creative moments, attacking play has been around the force field in front of the 18-yard box, and defensively our pressing lacks a team-commitment to mark & close down passing options. The crowd isn’t helping either. Hopefully we change gears in the 2nd half…

  6. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Wilkinson has three fouls on the SAME PLAYER in one half and at least three uncalled fouls on the SAME PLAYER in a half but no card. How many times does he have to foul Walcott before it’s considered persistent?

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Some are saying Begovic is having a fantastic game, and I suppose he’s been solid, but we’ve also been planting shots right at him… Is that sloppiness on our part, or just good positioning by Begovic? Probably a bit of both.

    Just a lot of predictable passy passy around the boxy from us so far, with Stoke really not doing much at all except getting away with fouls…which is also predictable.

  8. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    So, is Shawcross “that type of player?” Studs first, foot over the ball, straight leg, lunging tackle on the full run. The only thing that prevented that from being a leg breaking tackle was that poor Kozzer’s…… ummmmm….leg wasn’t there.

  9. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    I can’t tell you how good it feels to beat the Cunts of Stoke all because that fucktard Wilkinson fouled Walcott on the edge of the box. Wilkinson’s been fouling Walcott all game.

  10. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    1 nil to the Arsenal. Is there any more satisfying a score in all of sport? Now I can have a good Super Bowl weekend!

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        We should recruit another Gilberto Silva for that role! I think we need another Kaepernick more though, Santi needs a backup!

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Jax

      Great weekend’s sport, and still not over. 6 Nations rugby & Superbowl. Big men going full on at each other. Does it get any better?

  11. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    Win today not as sexy as others. Definitely saw the tempo and chances upped after the subs. Cunt of a referee failed to protect Walcott, Wilshere and Koz’s nuts

  12. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    No Vermaelen: clean sheet.

    Finally we bring some options off the bench and get a result.

    I had to laugh at Pulis doing the ball boy drying the ball routine for Shotton. The days of that tactic working are now long gone.

    Too bad Monreal is cup tied.

    That f**king gutless linesman calls nothing all game long and then he tries to grow a pair and take our goal away. A**hole. Then he smiles in our faces at the end of the game, hypocrite. This the same blindsman who watches Wilkinson elbow then hit Walcott in the face leaving a mark under his left eye and keeps his flag stuck up his rear.

    You can see that Chris Foy was trying to let the boys ‘play’ but that only favored Stoke. IMO Shawcroos should have gotten a red card for his 2 footed ‘over the balls’ challenge on Koscienly.

    Who does that wimpy, shrimpy Owen think he is, a ‘Stoke’ player? Must be something in the water in Stoke City.

    If Poldolski had started, he would have scored those chances the Ox put into Begkovic.

    Why is it when some managers win a game, they become a complete and utter a** Alan Pardew?

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Interesting point about Vermaelen (who’s been shit lately).

      I like Koscielny when we play teams that hoof it. I don’t have the stats to back it up, but I THINK Koscielny is our best CB in the air…is that right, Tim?

      However, for some unknown reason, Koscielny tends to choke in big games…

      Anyway, he and Mertesacker were excellent together today.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        He was last year. This year he’s dropped off a bit percentage wise. Mertesacker actually did well in the challenges with Peter Crouch yesterday.

  13. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Speaking of incompetent refs *cough-Howard Webb-cough*, how can Demba Ba get kicked full in the face and break his nose and not even get a foul? I know Coloccini was making a play on the ball but Ba beats him to it and therefore Coloccini is “late” and kicks him in the face. Foul, penalty, and red card for me but nothing according to Webb.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1PJ

      remember nigel de jong kung-fu kicking xabi alonso in the WC final? webb let him stay on the pitch with a yellow.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      Webb also failed to see anything wrong in Whelan’s two footed jump onto ManCity’s Javi Garcia last week. That man doesn’t deserve to be a referee.

  14. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    HA HA HA HA Shitcross HHAHAHAHAHA Flukinson HA HA HA HA Toni P.
    Just Haaaaa….haaaa …. Haaaa….

    Sorry. I had to do it. I hope Koz is still able to have juniors.

  15. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1dano328

    We gotta take Begovich in the summer. Stoke already plans to sell him since they just bought a promising young keeper. They may sell Begovich to ManU and resists any bids from us due to their hatred.

    Pulis is deplorable. Making comments about our players harrasing the refs. Foy over-ruled that call on his own as their is no way it’s Offsides when Walcott didn’t interfere with the play. Lucas pinged off Cameron into goal. Period. And Pulis cries offsides. Then he complains about the lack of resources when he has spent more on transfers then Wenger since he took over at Stoke.

    Brek Shea will give them a pacey winger. He doesn’t fit their current style, so maybe they want to start playing more open.

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