Well, there is 1 more game to go. And because of Arsenal's...
Our part-timers are in for some chop.
“We came out with a different spirit, a different attitude and were much more dangerous and dominated” – Arsene Wenger speaking about our impressive second half. We still lost so it doesn’t really make any difference.
Far too often we “show up” in the second half, be it against Man City, Reading or London rivals Chelsea, it’s unacceptable. This is a team of overpaid professionals and nothing more. In the first half there was NO sign of passion or desire, even Wilshere couldn’t sport his war face for the occasion, but we all know the latter is an irregularity.
In his post match press conference, Wenger blamed the first half performance on the frequency of games and, in a way, admitted that he is incapable of motivating his players:
“When you play every three days, it’s difficult to know. There’s a psychological ingredient in there for sure. I felt that in the last two games that we didn’t really go for it from the start.”
I guess it beats “jaded” and “we showed great mental strength but dipped a little bit physically.”
Pace, intricate passing, passion and a goal, our second half performance was a delight. That’s how we should be playing game in, game out. If a two goal deficit at half time is what it takes for the team to turn around their performance then we are in for a turbulent second half of the season. But then again, that’s been obvious from the start.
It’s hard to single anybody out as a bad performer in that game because everyone had their faults. But some players in particular stood out for the wrong reasons. Let’s start with Giroud, he didn’t have the best of games, it wasn’t his entire fault though, the crossing was atrocious. When our best crossers are on the left (Gibbs and the indisposed Podolski) and balls are flying in from the right, you can’t really expect much from a man who is most lethal when on the end of a cross. This leads me on to Sagna and his so called crossing. Oh how he has fallen; once the second best right back in Europe behind the seemingly invincible Phillip Lahm, Sagna is now a disinterested, ordinary full-back. The entire match he’d lose the ball and not seem remotely intent on getting it back, provided bog-standard “support” down the right hand side, quite frankly that was one of his worst performances in Arsenal colours, the man is a shadow of the player he used to be.
Despite redeeming himself in the second half with an assist for Walcott, Cazorla was non-existent in the first half, something that has been all too common recently. But can we really blame the Spaniard? No. It’s Wenger’s fault for refusing to rest him due to the lack of replacements. Rosicky’s mysterious disappearance combined with a lack of signings means Santi has to play week in, week out. It happened with Ramsey last season which resulted in a burnout and a huge decline in performances, something we really can’t afford right now.
Regardless of the transfers we bring in this month, we look set to continue our painstakingly long season.
Say what you like about these new commercial deals and the mythical war chest we have had ready since the summer, the underlying point is this: No matter how much we spend in this month – if anything – it does not hide the fact that our squad has a shocking attitude, partially down to the wage structure, and partially down to the [not so] great faith Arsene Wenger has in his players and vice-versa. He is far too patient when others aren’t.
The reasons for Wenger’s patience are the same reason behind the fans’ impatience: player progress. Look at the most recent example: a certain Dutchman who was hampered by injury for eight seasons then showed that he’s one of the best strikers in the world. And our most recent product, Theo Walcott, who, since the latter half of last season, has been our best player – or at least one of them. Obviously Theo isn’t as good as Thierry Henry or that Dutch bloke, but he’s still one of our best players and we’ve had to wait a while to be able to say that. But are we saying he’s one of our best because he’s good or because he’s all we’ve got left? We still have Wilshere (and the rest of the British core who all signed new contracts the other week), Santi Cazorla, Szczesny et al but my point is, now we’ve signed Theo, we need to build on that and not just sit back and hope for the best when May comes around. It’s the same story over and over again. No, I don’t want to wait for Angha, Eisfeld, Meade, Akpom etc to break through, we need new players and we need them now.
And for the fans that are patient, how much longer would you like to wait? If we wait any longer we will continue to be surpassed by our rivals. Rivals in this sense doesn’t mean Sp*rs, it means anyone who has a chance of finishing above us, which at the moment is a list too long for comfort.
Here’s a stat to dwell over: We have taken 15 fewer points from their 22 PL fixtures than last season – only Newcastle (-19) have deteriorated further. [via @SkySportsChris]
West Ham next, until then, try and remain sane.