soton

Southampton v. Arsenal: happy new year?

I don’t really make resolutions but of the 10 or so I’ve made, the one that has been easiest and most enjoyable to keep was the one I made January 1, 2008, to start writing this blog. Maybe it was a case of picking a resolution that I knew I could keep? After all, other, less famous, resolutions that I have found easy to keep include; baking my own bread, switching to French Press instead of drip coffee, and eating a butter basted steak every Sunday.

So that’s my advice to all you resolvers, pick something you know you can accomplish. For example, my grandfather was one of the best people I’ve ever known and he drank two drinks every day. Never more than two drinks mind you, just the two. Each drink included 1.5 jiggers of Scotch (J&B), with a splash of Perrier, and a twist of lemon. He lived until he was over 90 and I’m convinced it was something in that magical elixir. That’s the kind of resolution I recommend “drink like Tim’s grandfather”.

If you picked some life-changing resolution like quitting smoking, exercising every day, or going vegan I can only say that I wish you the best of luck. Personally, I would start with something a little smaller like resolving to end world hunger but hey, to each his own. This morning I resolve to eat some eggs. Probably with bacon. Or if I’m feeling generous to the Earth, some turkey sausage. Because that’s how you save the Earth: by eating turkey sausage instead of bacon.

You will have noticed by now that the site design is different than yesterday. That’s because the old theme was breaking my site: if I published an article with any interest I got timeouts. So, I had to pare things down and start over. Look for a site re-design in the coming months.

Today, however, Arsenal play Southampton, a homecoming of sorts for Theo Walcott. I’m not sure if you know this (because you’ve been in a coma) but Theo Walcott used to play for Southampton before coming to Arsenal. So too did Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it’s like a double date to the homecoming!

And they are both reportedly excited. So excited that Theo apparently “wrapped himself in bubble-wrap” so as not to sustain a pre-match injury. No word on whether he asked Gina to jump over him.

Theo has been on an insane run of form so I guess it’s good that he’s wrapping himself in bubble wrap, because Arsenal need him healthy for our January fire sale/January run to secure fourth place. Ha ha, just kidding (only sort of).

Since his substitute appearance against QPR, Walcott has scored 10 goals and provided 8 assists, proving instrumental in Arsenal’s good run of form against lower-table opposition. Arsenal supporters, myself included, have seen that run of form and are calling for the team to sign him up to (nearly) any terms he wants. If he wants £100k a week, a fat bonus, and that his contract includes a release clause to be activated if Arsenal don’t win trophies well that’s all perfectly acceptable! Even if the contract guarantees a certain number of appearances as center forward, thereby stripping the manager of his ability to, you know “manage”, that’s also acceptable because we can’t keep losing these players to, erm, stuff.

It’s really a no win situation. Catch-22 if you will. The more that Walcott plays either the more valuable he becomes or the less valuable he becomes, either situation doesn’t benefit the club. If he starts scoring and assisting and showing that he can play through the middle then his Bosman transfer value raises, Arsenal’s dependence on the player raises, and Arsenal fans’ ire raises with him and the club the longer he goes without signing. If his form drops back off, then he becomes less marketable and more affordable, but then we have a player that we are paying who is not very good or inconsistent at best and then we are under pressure to sign a player who is inconsistent.

Given his form against the lower-tier teams this last month, I expect him to have a great game against Southampton today. I also expect that Arsene Wenger will play him through the middle, though I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

If Arsenal start both of the former Southampton men it could free up others to have a good game as well. If Theo ad Ox are pulling the Soton defenders all over the pitch it could create space and time for folks like Cazorla and Podolski to get on the scoresheet. Or hey, maybe even Wilshere. He could use a good goal.

I will warn that Southampton are fighting hard against relegation and have managed two draws in their last two games. The latest was a 3-3 shocker against Stoke at the Brittania. Stoke hadn’t conceded three at the Brittania since 1463 and they were hit hard in the first half from a barrage of Southampton goals. Arsenal need to show the requisite “fight” and “hustle”, need to stay focused for the full match and not switch off or pull the handbrake, and not think they can just show up and beat this team just because we stomped them in the first tie.

A sentence that could be slightly reworked and written prior to every kickoff, ever.

I’d like to see Arsenal start the year off resolving to stop making so many mental errors in games but that’s about as realistic as quitting smoking or going vegan. So, instead, here’s hoping that everyone, Arsenal FC as well, gets the new year off to a good start and resolves to just do a few little things better. Things they can achieve, like beating a relegation-bound team.

Qq

23 thoughts on “Southampton v. Arsenal: happy new year?

  1. Vote -1 Vote +1FCArsenal

    If Walcott is not selected then he leaves.

    If he is selected and plays badly then he stays because the offers are from lesser clubs – but this affects Arsenal badly.

    If he is selected and scores all the time, he leaves.

    What we need is him to play ok, Arsenal are not really affected and he then signs!

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    @HT: What is it with our first halves of late? We’re playing like absolute shit, 0 shots on goal, really don’t deserve to be tied going into the second half.

    Wilshere was especially poor for the first 20-25 minutes (losing possession), but has gradually come back into the game. Walcott, too, has gradually started to play (think he’s only had two or three touches so far). Podolski has been extremely frustrating throughout.

    As for the goal, that was shambolic defending, particularly when Sagna had a chance to belt it out, but instead played a beautiful ball back into the middle for Ramirez. But really, Sagna’s error came at the end of a series of Arsenal errors.

    Southampton have been the better team in the first half. Unless we play drastically better in the second half, I don’t see us getting any points from this game.

  3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    The only way Gervinho would deserve his Brasilian nickname is if he sent to Rio as a drag stripper.
    Selling Van Persie was one of the worst decision Wenger has ever made.

    Utter shit, half of the team.
    I’m fed up beyond belief.
    Fuck this, just fuck it.
    Unbelievable.

  4. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    That was utter shit. So utter that they don’t deserve a By the Numbers post until I fucking feel like it.

  5. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Someone left the cork in our ‘champagne’ football.

    Sagna was the reincarnation of Eboue today.

    Gervinho, still no point.

    Soton followed the tried and true philosophy of pressing Arsenal And leaving no space and you can get something from the game.

    Podolski did not look interested.

    Wilshere, Cazorla, the CBs and GK came to play. Someone should tell Hen, er Walcott that he’s not Thierry yet so he better get stuck in and work harder to win balls rather than wait to be spoon fed.

    Not one of our ‘speed’ players went at or past a Soton player all game.

  6. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    Tim,
    Today I understood what you meant by zombie team. Today is also when I finally decided to give up on Gervinho like most people.

    From the opening few minutes it seemed like this was the wrong match to start Theo up front. Giroud could have contributed so much more to our forward play, including getting on the end of some decent crosses. Also, it seemed like a game made for Rosicky to come into and speed up. Instead Ramsey made an appearance (and did nothing wrong really) Is Rosicky still not fit?

    And a word for what I thought was some atrocious refereeing. Wilshere being targeted for special treatment continues. They were allowed to push and kick us, and slow down our attacks (such as they were) with impunity. All in all, a pretty useless way to start off the new year. Footballistically.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Canuck

    Time to recognize that we are a mid table team. Over the past six years, there were typically two attributes that compelled my passion: the style of play; and the sense of inevitability that the arsenal were on the cusp of dominating the league. Both of these attributes have disappeared. Arsenal play a boring style now. They couldn’t even threaten the keeper today. There is no joy in the game, no panache, no passion. I actually found myself admiring the opposition – they had far more hustle and flair, even talent.

    this was no one off. It has been building for some time, despite occasional denial. Meanwhile, my favourite players now toil elsewhere. It appears my gunner affiliation is now more burden and obligation than anything else.

  8. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    Maybe tired legs is part of the explanation for today’s poor performance? Was Sagna that bad or he wasn’t receiving help from The Ox? Prior to the 1st goal he was clearly unhappy having to deal with 2 soton players. Plus have you noticed that when he jogs without the ball he looks funny? Like playing through pain. The 1st mistake that led to the goal was Podolski’s pass to the middle. I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen that leading to an opposition goal. Cheez, cut it already! Taking a point from such a bad game isn’t too terrible after all.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

    Ouch. Not how any of us wanted to spend the first day of 2013.

    Credit to Soton for at least showing up.

    The lack of consistency remains breathtaking. Each game seems like a discrete event completely disconnected from what came before or from what might follow.

    Welcome to the twilight zone, where Rod Serling might be better suited as manager.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

    Not how any Gooner wanted to spend New Year’s Day, but credit to Southhampton for at least showing up to play.

    This Arsenal remains stunning in its inconsistency. Each game seems to be a discrete standalone event with no connection to what came before or to what might follow.

    The only connective tissue seems to be the kind of Twilight Zone we seem to be inhabiting. Perhaps the ghost of Rod Serling would make for a better manager than the perplexed Arsene Wenger….

  11. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1craig

    So I try not to post after a lost like that, because emotion makes me say dumb shit, like “we are a mid table team”. That is stupid. We aren’t. That was a fucked up, terrible performance, but we aren’t a mid table team. Haven’t been since Wenger arrived, won’t be this year.

    Tired legs mattered, terrible officiating mattered, players quitting on the match mattered. But all played a part. Whatever. Arsenal still have the 4th or 3rd best squad in the league, and that will show. January will still be the key to where we finish, and we will all have the same moments of joy and disappointment in the 2nd half. Nothing has changed. We weren’t 4 goals better than Newcastle and we aren’t equal with the Saints. But our inconsistent effort will continue to yield results that build everyone up and tear them down.

  12. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1dy

    the problem with the Arsenal team these few games, win or not, is that Sagna has been very poor, plus Ox isn’t ready for first team yet. I venture to say Ox and Sagna combined cripple the right side of Arsenal. That means going into battle with a arm cut off. Not good at all. If Podi isn’t up to his best, Gibbs would be caught in two minds, which isn’t good doing the overlap or staying put at the back in defence.
    That means two arms cut off.
    Now we come to the ‘heart’ of the team, I think we need a doctor.

  13. Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    Watching another insipid and lacklustre performance was not the best way to spend the first day of 2013.

    This is the team that put 7 past Newcastle United just a couple of days ago?

    Szcznesy and Walcott at least showed up but I am increasingly concerned (yes, this is a wooden desk and I am knocking on it right now) that it’s only a matter of time before Wilshere is carried off the pitch on a stretcher. The amount of physical abuse combined with anti-Arsenal officiating are taking their toll.

    Walcott now remains our main threat and only real menace to opposing defences.

    His recent form aside, our performances seem so utterly disconnected from each other. Each game is a discrete event that has no relation to what came before or what might follow.

    We are now 5th in the table, 5 points behind Spurs and nobody on earth, not the club, not Wenger, no one has any idea what the future holds.

    So I choose to see that the glass is half full, until the next match that is.

  14. Vote -1 Vote +1SG_Gooner

    Hey Tim,

    Obviously Arsenal did not take your advice about keeping the resolutions simple. Maybe they have made no New Year’s resolutions!

    Watching this Arsenal team has become painful this season. Where is the flair, passing technique, confidence on the ball and most importantly the joy of playing good football? To rub salts on the wound, RVP keeps banging them in and reminding us every week of the foolishness which pervades in the management circles of our beloved club. I am more inclined than ever to believe RVP’s statement about our club’s (lack of) ambition having lot of weight.

    I have supported Wenger and his vision for the club through all these trophyless years but even I am beginning to feel jaded. I watched Tottenham over the holiday period and despite not having lots of top class talent they seem to be finding their feet and playing for the manager. Somehow, Arsene is not able to extract those magical moments from his players so easily anymore. Perhaps it is to do with having players with limited talents who don’t have the speed of thought to overcome stubborn, defence minded teams.

    Most teams can see that if they play an open game against us they will get spanked. I expect more such defensive displays in the 2nd half of the season where teams will either harass us in mid field or defend resolutely. With the lightweight midfield, combined with a uncertain forward line I am not sure even a 4th place will be easy to achieve.

  15. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    To dy’s point, Sagna has been poor ever since his return from that 2nd leg break. His forward runs stop at the 18yd with the usual pass back. He is nowhere near the player once judged the best RB in the Premier League. He now spends most of his time gesticulating at team mates which is a always a bad sign. All that noise about going somewhere else was just that noise because no other team would take him now. Drop him and start Jenkinson again.

    To dy’s other point about needing a doctor, we actually need a ‘team’ of specialists: a neurosurgeon for nerves of steel, a heart transplant surgeon for the obvious, a psychologist for an attitude adjustment, a hematologist to get our blood flowing in the 1st half, an oncologist to weed out any ‘cancers in the locker room’, a physiatrist to treat that spasticity in our play, a urologist to gird our loins, a colo-rectal surgeon to remove that hand brake from our derriere and an opthalmologist to improve our visual acuity so that we can make the right pass.

  16. Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    A “meh” start to the year…
    We are so inconsistent that none of our matches seem to have anything to do with each other. They are all discrete events with no connection. Good one game, bad the next, mediocre after that.

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    All of a sudden the boo birds have come out for Sagna. The same boo birds who came out for Eboue, Bendtner, Denilson, Squillaci, Chamakh, Gervinho, etc.

    Fact is, Sagna was defending against two people because the OX was not defending at all. He was tracking back into empty spaces, never really tackled anyone and kept passing them off to other teammates.

    Fact is, the entire team basically played like shit outside both CB’s. CZ’s distribution was horrible and none of the other players impacted the game positively.

    Fact is, the squad has quality at most if not all positions, but cant seem to put it all together consistently. One game it’s the MF, another game the CB’s, another, the WB’s, another game the forwards and so on.

    For me, when the sum of the parts of a product is less than the individual components, then the design and/or manufacturing is lacking. If we can agree on that, then it’s up to us to figure out who is responsible for those aspects.

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