I have some training for work this morning and tomorrow so just a quick blog today. Wenger should be giving his pre-match presser later and I’ll be doing tomorrow’s blog this afternoon. I’m sure you’ll all get over it.
For Arsenal supporters, there’s a lot of paranoia, anger, frustration, and hand-wringing floating around the internet at the moment and I think we all need to just take a step back and look realistically at what’s happened these last few weeks and where we will end up in the next few.
Yes, Arsenal lost an away match to Sunderland, won a home match against Standard, and lost to Chelsea, but it’s hardly the end of the world. In the Sunderland match, the whole team was sort of reeling from a combination of the van Persie injury, the World Cup qualifiers, and a number of other injury and personal problems. Sunderland played their game, took their chance, and came out with all three points. It should have been a call to arms but instead, Arsenal seemed to equivocate.
Then against Standard, again the cracks showed. Standard came to the Emirates hoping to play the type of match which Chelsea would bring 5 days later. Arsenal got the win and the clean sheet but both sides squandered a lot of chances. Again the writing was on the wall, Chelsea would not miss those same chances that Standard missed, and Chelsea would not give up the types of easy goals that Standard gave.
And so it came to pass, Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Arsenal exposed the flaws that all of us already know about Arsenal: we are set up to outscore our opponents and if we fail to do that then when we are exposed at the back, we will lose games. As I put it earlier in the year, it’s clear that this club would rather lose 3-0 while playing attacking football for 90 minutes than set up for a 0-0 draw.
In the Arsene system, then, what we lacked is some sharpness up front. Eduardo is a great footballer when he is 100%. He is a great poacher, he has the class and touch to be a set-up man, and he is the only player on this team who can score goals like this:
Yes, he lacks some height and right now he’s adjusting to the role that Arsene has thrown him into. We would do well to remember that it took Robin van Persie a few weeks to get a handle on the role as well. A few weeks during which some fans were asking for Wenger to play Bendtner there, a thought that Wenger banished outright.
But watch that video again, notice how the whole team conspired to get that goal. At the moment, the whole attack lacks the sharpness that you see in that video. Arshavin is clearly more effected by Russia’s World Cup loss than anyone (aside from my friend Matt) imagined, Rosicky is clearly not 100%, and Nasri still a bit off. But the thing is, these are still the same guys who many of you couldn’t wait to see play together at the start of the season! Nasri is still the same guy who scored two amazing goals to beat Man U — he’s just coming back from injury.
Defensively as well, Arsenal looked a bit jaded but there’s a clue in the fact that all of Chelsea’s starters had just spent three weeks resting and preparing for this match. No exaggeration, almost all of them spent the international break “injured” while two of Arsenal’s defenders, Sagna and Gallas, spent the last three weeks playing every three days in meaningful, emotional matches.
Wenger sees this and he has vowed to give all of the regular starters a rest tomorrow against Man City and next week against Olympiakos.
From my perspective, a week of rest and practice is just what the doctor ordered for this team and I think we’ll see a sharper attack on Saturday against Stoke. Meanwhile, I also suspect that the Carling Cup kids will be set to impress tomorrow against City.
Is it possible for this Arsenal team to get two wins in a row? Yes and when we do, will we all be happy again?