Three points on the board and an advancement on the premier league table to keep us within touching distance of our London rivals. It wasn’t pretty, far from an enjoyable experience but in the grand scheme of things the win was recorded. It’s all the team can do right now, the past seven days have been a complete disaster for the club and so it was a bit of a relief to see us remember how to win at home. Confidence amongst the team is shot right now and it will take a while for the team to find a swagger in their play again. All be it that same swagger is what has infected the players with complacency in the games where they are expected to win. Maybe the realisation has sunk in now and the players now recognize what is required when you pull on the red and white of Arsenal.
The team have talked a good game this season, the players have come out (via the platform of Arsenal.com) with the calls to arms speeches for the big games, they highlighted the dangerss of taking teams for granted and they roundly spoke out in defence of the manager. The problem is all the talk seemed to count for nothing when they didn’t back up their words when on the pitch.
We have lost almost all our big games this season, we have fallen foul to inferior teams in the cup competitions and the players have let the manager down when he has staked his reputation on backing the players and their potential to achieve greatness.
Right now everyone in the club is hurting and despite scraping the win yesterday; you could sense a slight indication of unity between the players. They can certainly sense the negativity emitting from every direction and they are channelling it into their play to turn it around.There was definitely more effort put in from the players.
Understandably the past week contributed to the nerves in the teams play yesterday and the turnaround to regain confidence will take some time. There are some major flaws with the team but we missed the opportunity with the recent transfer window to address them so now we have to soldier on, accept what we have and keep the faith.
In terms of the game yesterday a couple things I noticed:
Santi Cazorla sure knows how to hit em.
Of all our players in the squad the one player I feel has that knack to blast a ball in from range is our Santi. His goals yesterday may not have been blockbusters or contenders for goal of the month but his range of shooting is vital to our recovery. Some days they skew off his boots at a 90 degree angle away from the goal but when he gets it right there are not many keepers that can stop ‘em. That threat around the box keeps defenders on their toes and can often create space for others. He took his goals yesterday very well and I for one am grateful for his persistence.
Monreal has a great delivery.
It has been clear in the games that Nacho Monreal has played this season that he has the best delivery of all our fullbacks at the club. One of the frustrations of the past is when our full backs work themselves into good positions then deliver a poor ball or start turning back inside and losing the momentum. With our lack of options up front it is important that we play to the strengths of what we do have. For what Giroud lacks in pace he makes up for in aerial threat so quality delivery is vital. Monreal had already walked away from the game with an assist for the winner but additionally he put in some terrific crosses during the game; the kind of deliveries that has people raving about Leighton Baines (calm down). Let’s hope he can continue that for rest of the season.
The team lacks ruthlessness.
Yes, we are coming off the back off our worst spell of the season and the team is working its way back to confidence however there were a high number of chances created to win the game comfortably. The profligacy at times had the fans pulling their hair out; at one goal up there was plenty chances to put the game to bed. Instead the team was punished for their lack of efficiency and ended up conceding a soft goal started from our own corner. All season we have lacked the ruthless edge to kill off games and nearly paid for it yesterday. Too many times the wrong decision was made up front and at other times we were just unlucky. We have paid for this many times this season and it is certainly something we need to fix if we are to charge into the top 4. I know players don’t miss on purpose and sometimes reacting on instinct can draw out fantastic goals but the glamorous efforts should be reserved for when we are 2-3 goals up.
Arsene really needs to stop using that ‘handbrake’ term
I know we understand what he’s trying to say when he says it but with every time he uses the phrase it comes across as some sort of parody. It’s like when you have a contestant evicted on big brother and they watch back their best bits at the end and discover that one phrase they use all the time; if Arsene was in the big brother house he would probably use it to describe a million situations much like the Smurfs use the word Smurf. He probably doesn’t realise how much he uses it and would blame it on TV editing.
Yesterday he used it in his press conference to say:
“It was interesting as well to see that we were focused, united, a bit nervous and you could see we played a little bit with the handbrake in some situations because the second goal didn't come.”
I get ya Arsene
Anyway, let’s hope the recovery continues in our next game, away to Spurs. We can only take things a game at a time. Things won’t be fixed overnight so I think it’s important not to criticize yesterdays performance too much, just appreciate we achieved a win and get behind the boys for the North London Derby.
I’m sure there’s nothing better to motivate the Arsenal players to raise their game than facing Spurs. The handbrake will be well and truly underused next Sunday.
Enjoy your day people.