I don’t think anyone expected this match to be a walk in the park. Away trips like this are often made difficult by the underdogs’ determination and twelfth man. You have to be at a decent level, if not at your best to get the required result. Clearly we weren’t either of these things and there’s a lot to be concerned about.
It was just one of those games. It was a dreadful performance but if Cazorla tucks away that penalty we could have salvaged a point. If Cech and Arteta positioned themselves better there wouldn’t have been a second goal. If Campbell didn’t do a Campbell we may have got back in the game. They only had one shot on target don’t forget, so I’m reluctant in giving them any credit, rather, I think this loss was more of our own doing than anything they could muster with all due respect.
These are the sorts of games where grinding out a victory is important but we lacked the character, that spirit, that extra bit in reserve, that moment of magic. I do believe this team has turned a corner this season to mount a title challenge, having the mental capacity to grind out a result. I do understand that even the best teams have these bad days and it would be unfair to draw too much out of this, especially if we do come back in the next game, but there is cause for concern.
Coquelin, our rock, our passionate midfield maestro. Ever since the start of the season he has been the answer to our prayers, a no nonsense defensive midfielder who nips attacks in the bud, and turns defence into attack in the blink of an eye. Two birds, one stone. I was dreading this day, the day he gets injured, but alas it has come. He came off in the first half, and Arteta had a bit of a ‘mare playing a hand in conceding both goals. More than Arteta’s performance and the rest of the defence it was the loss of Coquelin that hurt us the most and with the early signs that the injury is of the ligament kind, we will be missing him for at least a month. A player so crucial to our early season success is now sidelined, the pivotal cog in our midfield. Sure, Flamini and/or Arteta can come in, but we all know they are past their peak. Moreover they lack the x-factor that Coquelin has provided, that dynamism and passion that translates into that brilliant last ditch tackle or that crucial interception that turns defence into attack. This is the difference between a top 4 team and a champion team. I know that may sound quite dramatic but think about the last few ‘titleless’ years. What is the common thing everyone’s been saying? We need that ‘Vieira-type’ player in midfield. Someone to show passion, leadership and reliability to shield the defence. Coquelin’s influence cannot be understated. I am very concerned that the longer he is out, the more likely it is that our title challenge is slipping away.
With the injuries to Walcott, Ox, Welbeck, Rosicky amongst others to add to this, I feel the lack of investment in the summer will come back to haunt us. We all knew Coquelin was going to be our starting DM this season and that he was going to go from strength to strength. Wenger deserves a lot of credit for scouting him at an early age but once again he is falling short of a plan b, not just for him, but for other injured players as well. It is frustrating as it isn’t the first time either. With all the injuries so far we have been able to cope somewhat but I think Coquelin’s injury is the straw that breaks the camel’s back purely because of his importance this season.
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