1. The defence is as vulnerable as ever
Is this Arsenal football club or is this a circus? Seriously. That first goal looked like something out of a bloopers reel. Not once, not twice, but three times we gifted the ball to Liverpool, it is little wonder they scored. Sagna falls over, Vermaelen has an airswing after all that Ramsey fails to clear his lines and gifts it to Downing. It was a gift, a gift wrapped to perfection, personally delivered to their door. For the second goal, I fail to understand how we managed to make Henderson look like Messi. Credit to him for his persistence, but let’s be realistic, he is nowhere near that quality, and isn’t known for that sort of thing. There was plenty of opportunity to stop his run, nobody took responsibility. We’ve been a shambles like this for months, and our only saving grace is that most of the time the guys at the other end score more goals to paper over these cracks, but the fact is the cracks remain.
2. Left back is our strongest and weakest defensive position
This season has been one of calamitous defending from us. Even the likes of Sagna, Koscielny and Vermaelen, reliable in previous seasons have had some shocking moments this season. Mertesacker has had a solid run, but in recent weeks we’re seeing some of that work being undone. Gibbs has been the shining light however. He’s been invaluable in the left hand side and I can’t remember a time this season where he’s faltered. As an added bonus he’s developed a good understanding with Podolski, so our left hand side seems to be in good hands. This is what makes Gibbs’ injury against Liverpool all the more painful. He was substituted and it was the sublime to the ridiculous as Santos came on. I think its safe to say that Santos has been a flop since his deadline day signing in 2011. Apart from scoring some important goals last season he has never really convinced me in defence, and has now fallen to Squillaci-esque levels. When came on he looked tired, his positioning was all over the place, marking non-existent, and to put the icing on the cake he almost gifted Liverpool the win near the end with his misplaced pass and slip. Thank god Nacho Monreal was signed on deadline day, however, unfortunately, it won’t solve the problem fully as the Spanish international will be cup-tied for the Champions League. If Santos has to start against Bayern, can you imagine Santos V Robben? It will be a slaughtering more horrific than you’ve seen in any horror movie.
3. Walcott and Giroud are going from strength to strength
I’m loving the impact both these guys are having in the past few weeks and its little wonder they were both on the scoresheet against Liverpool. People tend to forget that this is Giroud’s first season in the premier league, yet he doing just as well if not better than many of the Premier League’s best strikers did in their first years. For example in Drogba’s first season he scored 16 goals and 4 assists, while Rooney had 17 goals and 4 assists in all competitions. Giroud in comparison already has 13 goals and 9 assists and its only February. He will probably match their efforts. Apart from a late miss against Liverpool he had a fabulous game again, his physical presence once again, something that has been missing from Arsenal for so long really coming to the fore. I am very impressed at the way he’s gone in his debut season. He has the unfortunate circumstance of having to be compared to the player he replaced, Robin Van Persie. They are big shoes to fill, but he is doing a great job in trying to filling them. Against Liverpool he made Agger and Carragher look ordinary at times. The other thing I liked about him was that along with his physical presence, he has the technique and touch which are equally important, and this was demonstrated many times against Liverpool too.
Walcott has been banging in the goals as well. He’s been at Arsenal for a while now and will be with us for a few years more after signing a new deal, but this is the first season where he has really taken a senior role, taken a large chunk of responsibility. We’ve seen it in recent weeks in his desire to score as many goals as possible and be an out and out striker. His finish for the second was quality, made it look easy, but it was tucked away with such pace and placement that Reina had no chance even at such a tight angle. Has looked very confident in front of goals these days, and fingers crossed that he becomes an Arsenal great. He is still only 23 don’t forget.