The long wait after the international break was over and the Arsenal was to roar back into action, or at least we thought. Rather than assert our dominance on, let’s be honest, a team which is likely to fight for survival this year, we were toothless, terrible and tame. There was no roar, no devouring the opposition, in fact, we were asleep and showed no hunger at all. No, rather than us eating up what seemed like a harmless lot of Canaries, we left with an empty stomach, and a bitter taste in our mouth. I can’t believe we waited two weeks for that!
The international break claimed yet another victim with Theo Walcott, not for the first time, being sidelined after the San Marino goalkeeper decided a bit of martial arts was required to stop him in the midweek World Cup qualifier. Regardless of whether he would have started anyway, he would have definitely been an impact sub, and as a result the squad as a whole needed a reshuffle.
Wilshere was back on the bench for us, although the manager did not use him. I understand that he wants to be super careful this time and not have him injured again, but why name him in the squad in the first place when you aren’t going to use him? In a game like this where nothing was happening for us, a player with a big heart, someone desperate to get on the field again could have maybe provided a spark. Maybe he would have come on if it wasn’t for the Ox injuring himself (and thus having to substitute the substitute), but still, I would have preferred to see him come on in lieu of Gnarby. As talented as the youngster is, he isn’t going to win a game for us, and bringing on Wilshere in this situation would have been a calculated gamble worth taking in my opinion.
Giroud was deployed as striker again, which is fine, providing the extra dimension of attacking in the air. We attempted 25 crosses and 4 were ‘completed’. Just about sums up the lack of service he got. He is blameless in all of this, and if I was him I would be screaming in frustration. Having scored his first against West Ham, finding form in the international break, we would have relished the opportunity to start as the main striker against a team who hadn’t even won yet and had shipped nine goals in their last two games. Says it all really.
The lack of accurate crosses really shows how much we are missing Kieran Gibbs. The whole team was terrible, let’s be honest, I’m not saying we would have won the game if Gibbs was playing, but we probably would have played better, given the form he was in at the start of the season, and given Santos’ shortcomings which I will get into.
Stand out performer
Nobody. No seriously, nobody. Gnarby, a guy who’s never played a Premier League game in his life before this can have the stand out performer if he wants, he’s the only player who actually thought to himself “we need a goal, I’d better have a shot and make the keeper work”, contrary to every other player on the pitch!!
As stupid as this sounds, the awesome run that Oxlade-Chamberlain made as soon as he came on, which eventually led to his injury, that ONE action alone felt like so much more than the other 10 players on the pitch. It was the only time in the entire game where there was some kind of spark. Yes, I am giving Oxlade-Chamberlain a special mention for 3 seconds of dribbling, you can see I am clutching at straws here, but at the same time, I’m trying to illustrate how poor the performance really was.
Areas of concern/The opposition
Okay, okay. Righto. Let’s see now, how can I summarise this without writing a thesis.
Where do I begin? This is a team that shipped nine goals in the last two games, Liverpool beat them 5-2 at the same ground for goodness sakes. Not only didn’t we score, we didn’t get close.
You see the midfield was lazy, tired, lacked ideas and had no clear objective. There looked to be no plan or direction. Nothing. We had to wait for the last 10 mins when Arteta had a shot of any significance, and it was around that time the senior players had to see a teenager who’d never played a Premier League game to be shown how its done. Look 1-0 isn’t that bad, but seriously, the manner in which we lost, the lack of fight after going down, even after a half time break for goodness sakes is really disappointing. How can you show no fight or desire to come from behind? That is extremely concerning. I know every season there are days like this, but seriously, at least have a go. If you are going to lose, go down with a fight. No. Ruddy had barely anything to do. 72% possession and nothing to show for it. The shots we actually took were so tame, so desperate, never threatened the goal, we never looked like scoring. Collectively every player needs to stand up and take responsibility.
This was our worst performance since the 4-0 Milan rout, but even though 3 more goals were scored that day, this felt worse. Milan are a quality side, and as bad as a performance that was, they are a quality side, and losing to them isn’t nearly as bad.
Everyone, the fans and media alike are having a go at Mannone. He is the official scapegoat. What a wonderful ‘expert’ opinion that is, just blame the goalkeeper shall we? OK look, Mannone isn’t blameless, he probably should have parried the ball in a different direction, but when a low hard shot comes your way like that it is hard to keep out. When a player is given that much time, that much space, you don’t need to be Ronaldo or Messi to hit the ball low and hard, and make life extremely difficult for the goalkeeper. Its pretty easy to do when there’s absolutely no pressure on the ball, which is exactly the luxury we gave to this particular Norwich player. Mannone isn’t nearly to blame as his midfield is. The player was given acres of space as he received the ball from a throw in (where was the marking?). He had a good few seconds to pick his spot and have a good shot on goal. Heck, I’m wondering why he didn’t score in the first instance. Anyway, where was the midfield closing him down (or even close to putting him off at the very least)? Then there was Andre Santos being lazy again at left back playing Holt onside for the rebound. There is more to the picture than what meets the eye. Simple errors by the midfield and our leftback could have prevented this situation from occurring in the first place. Mannone has some blame, and let’s be honest, he hasn’t had the best season so far, but to ignore the bigger picture and not see how poorly it was defended in the first instance is criminal and lazy by so-called ‘expert’ opinions out there.
Norwich had some golden opportunities to make it 2-0 or 3-0 later on too. Let’s not talk about that, or else I’d be here all day. Just embarrassing.
Did very well, played with a fighting spirit despite having their confidence dented from previous games. Weren’t intimidated and defended tight, and did what they had to do. Of course we did our part to make it easy for them. It sucks knowing their manager used to be a player for the scum Sp*rs.
The numbers game
72% possession, 5 very tame shots on target which really didn’t challenge Ruddy
32 passes in the final third by Santos and only one chance created
(We need Kieran Gibbs back, I seriously don’t rate Santos, I’m sorry)
36 passes in the final third by Cazorla for only 5 chances created. Not great, and as discussed the 5 chances themselves were nothing to write home about.
“It was the first time of the season we were way below par”
I agree it was one of those bad days that come from time to time, and it was the first time in the season where it was the case, but I think it was much worse than that and this needs to be a wake up call.
Not much to say but that a massive improvement is needed starting with the home game against Schalke. I suppose the only positive is when you hit rock bottom the only way is up.