Dismal Arsenal Survive But Will They Learn?

FA Cup Third Round
Arsenal 1 – 1 Leeds United

0 – 1 Snodgrass (54 pen)
1 – 1 Fabregas (90 pen)

Aside from the final ten minutes of the first half, the final twenty of the match, it was a turgid and dismal performance. The absence of width in attack, combined with sloppy passing in the opening twenty minutes gave a disciplined Leeds United encouragement to believe that they can could achieve a good result.

Not that all of the starters were poor; Szczesny, Gibbs, Djourou and Denilson all played well, considering the overall context of the team performance. Some of the others had mitigating circumstances. Alex Song looked shattered; Chamakh was starved of any chances – it is impossible to score if few are presented – whilst Nicklas Bendtner is not a right winger by any stretch of the imagination. And it showed.

Leeds started as energetically as Arsenal were lethargic yet it was the hosts who should have opened the scoring. Rosicky in a rare glimpse of brightness from his performance, fed Arshavin. The Russian’s lack of confidence showed with a weak finish against Schmeichel’s leg.

When or why the Russian is apparently mentally shot is unknown but bereft of confidence he certainly is. And subject to the kind of abuse that Song, Eboue and Denilson have put with for years – welcome to Arsenal, Andrey. You’ve never truly arrived until the crowd are on your back.

The following twenty minutes disappeared into a mire of ceded possession and stray passes as Leeds threatened sporadically, Becchio the main threat all afternoon. Arsenal awoke from their comatose state with half an hour gone. Schmeichel denied Arshavin and Denilson whilst Squillaci and Chamakh were denied by defensive discipline.

As much of a flurry activity as a false dawn. Bendtner had one moment on the right, drawing a save from Schmeichel but no breakthrough came. For Arsenal at least. Eboue was isolated on the right, shepherding Snodgrass towards a position of relative safety. The Leeds midfielder turned and fed the unmarked Gradel, who cut in and was felled clumsily by Denilson. The power of Snodgrass’s penalty beat Szczesny.

It was a mistake for which the Brazilian is rightly criticised, too many basic errors in one passage of play. It brought chastisement from his captain about the ‘stupidty’ of the incident. It’s a catching thing, eh, Cesc?

Cesc’s arrival was no surprise, Song’s departure meant Denilson was shifted into the more defensive role and became more subdued, along with knowing that his mistake might cost the team dear. It might have been an irrelevant substitution had Szczesny not blocked Becchio’s header with a sharp save to his right.

The arrival of Walcott gave Arsenal some pace. Either Chamakh or Bendtner could have gone with little complaint. Would the Moroccan have fared better with the late chance that Bendtner sliced wide – who knows?

The main focus of Walcott’s involvement in a comedy of errors that eventually came to the right decision. Walcott admitted that he dived in an attempt to win a penalty. Dowd appeared to award the penalty before overruling himself and giving an offside after the event. He should be commended for his honesty; whether there are repercussions is an entirely different matter.

Arshavin sent Walcott clear but the England forward failed to get any height on his attempted lob which ended tamely in the goalkeeper’s arms. The next time Walcott broke into the area, it was more effective. Tugged back, he still managed to get his shot away but Phil Dowd decided that he had been impeded enough and pointed to the spot. Cesc coolly scored and a draw salvaged.

Whilst the referee is to be commended for his bravery in making that call, perhaps officials can be more consistent and penalise all of the pulls and tugs suffered with penalties. No wait, our full and centre backs might be in real trouble in that happens.

The outcome is a replay. Lucky or unlucky is a matter of perspective. Despite the appalling nature of the performance, Arsenal survived and Leeds may yet fancy their chances. History is against them. They have never knocked Arsenal out in any tie involving replays nor have they ever knocked Arsenal out at home. Which side Wenger fields may have a big influence on whether that record continues.

’til Tomorrow.


118 thoughts on “Dismal Arsenal Survive But Will They Learn?

  1. deano, I noticed in the man city game just how much Theo has come on. He is using tricks to get around his defender not just pace. I agree he is becoming an Arsenal VIP (very important player!).

  2. John Cross usually has the inside track but he was completely wrong about Cesc leaving last summer, so I’ll wait for official confirmation. If the quotes from Arsene are correct, I’m surprised no one else has them.

  3. I didn’t hear an awful lot of booing toward Arshavin. Certainly no orchestrated mass-boo like The Booing of Eboue. Lots of fans jumping up and down calling him a lazy effing layabout and telling him where to go and how to get there… but not a lot of booing. He had a pretty characteristic game really… not a lot of flicks and backheels came off… on another day they would’ve done… he should’ve got his touch right on that Rosicky through ball and that’s then a certain goal… but framed in a sluggish team performance his contribution looked below par. He was an easy target for a frustrated crowd watching a frustrated team. What pissed people off wasn’t giving up possession with backheels and flicks… but the three or four times when he’s let a pass go past him – passes seemingly within reach – and given up the chase on them prematurely. That doesn’t ingratiate a player to the crowd at the best of times, but in an FA Cup game when not a lot’s coming off for anyone and we’re one nil down to Leeds and possession is precious… it winds people up. I’d rather do away with all the meek marys and cautious colins who sit on their hands all day than do away with the effers and blinders… at least they sing… and we all love Arshavin really.

    I’m disappointed, personally, as I thought he’d really bust a gut and seize this opportunity to play himself back into the ‘dream XI’ – which he’s played himself out of recently/lost his place to Theo and Nas. It’s as you were in the ‘pecking order’. Hope he gets some time at Ipswich.

  4. The television cameras picked up some ugly reactions yesterday – not just towards Arshavin, but towards Walcott as well. They looked like a bunch of arseholes, and I’m glad our players don’t try to ingratiate themselves with the fuckers. One goal down and half an hour remaining and most of them had given up hope. I’m surprised they didn’t just leave.

  5. I’m well aware of how they all operate, and I know it’s only football, so I shouldn’t get annoyed, but John Cross is such a sidling, disingenuous piece of shit. He knows how this club works, and has always worked, but is never above a far-fetched transfer story or heartfelt plea for Arsenal to “splash the cash”, even though he’s well aware that it’s something we’ll never do.

    Worst is he’s got Arsenal fans thinking he’s one of them. But a backhanded shit-stirrer, preying on the fears of the fans and ramping up disharmony is all the fuck he’ll ever be.

    The other problem with that piece is that AW was sounding very confident about TV5 recovery timetable on Friday, so I don’t know what training he’d have got in between then and now to feel pain.

  6. Arshavin is experiencing a long hectic winter of football, football and nothing but football. it has caught up with him a bit. he looks tired and fed up at times. I remember his 4th goal at Anfield where he sprinted all the way to catch up with Walcott, that was then when he was still fresh from Russia. He is used to long lay offs in Russia while in England its frentic and it does not end. Best thing for him is to have a break , he will come back fresh but with the FA cup replay that looks unlikely.
    Watch the 4th goal. unbelievable pace and finish. He will come good .he is a top class player with amazing ability. even when he doesn’t play well I always feel he is capable of doing something amazing at any moment in the game.
    some fans are stupid really. why are they having ago at him? they should help him and support him.

  7. @ 1 Loose Cannon – Love AA personally but remember most of the fans are just venting their frustration as they know what a great player he is and what he is capable of doing. And that in its own way can be helpful. It should focus him on improving his game. I don’t mean playing brilliant football game in game out but there are times when he comes across as lazy. This is never a good trait but one all fans forgive (to an extent) when you are in form but heaven help you if you are not, and I think even he would agree that he is far from his best. Yes I hate the fans booing one of our own and that should stop, but I equally hate seeing one of our own walking back to defend after he gave the ball away whilst other players are springing 50-60 yards to try and help out. I can’t wait for him to regain his form, what a team we will have then!!! COYG!!! COAA!!!

  8. OneOfUs | January 10, 2011 at 12:04 am |

    I agree, I really dislike him but there are so many Arsenal bloggers up his butt. They forget he is a hack first and foremost and is not above the dirty tricks of that dishonourable profession, whoever he claims to support. He is not one of us, he is one of them.

    LA, I was surprised to hear about the booing of AA as there was none in my section, not even the yelling at him to move his lazy arse. Even Bendtner escaped without any abuse, which is pretty unusual. I think there was too much anxiety that we were about to lose at home to dirty Leeds!

  9. I didn’t hear any booing of Arshavin personally, plenty of shouting at him to up his game though. As said above, the frustration of the fans is born out of the knowledge that he’s way better than the form he’s currently showing. As for the list of stats above, yes he’s created and scored plenty of goals this season, but he also leaves the full-back behind him very exposed, Walcott and Nasri track back and help out when we don’t have the ball which at least partly explains why they’re in the side at Arshavin’s expense, the defensive side of the game is important as well!

  10. Reg AA being booed,
    It felt so on TV.. Maybe it was the groans and the shouts which felt like booing..

  11. The Theo admission is a strange one. It did not really look like a dive, and there was no discussion on the subject. He has highlighted it himself.

    I did not think we played that badly on Sat, despite lacking a cutting edge. Djourou was our best player for me. Denilson gave away a pen with a lazy challenge, but did not play too badly. He really needs to work on his tracking back though. He is either the slowest player in the lge, or to lazy to run after players very fast.

  12. It was just a one of those games really.

    Not much we can do about it other than win it at their end. And we will.
    I have to say we had a few frustrating performers. But it always seems worse in a cup game when you think your entitled to a win. Leeds defended well and despite their current league played fairly well.

    I would say that we should have Bendtner or Cham, not both. But there definately is room for both. They need to put the chances away when given. Currently the competition each of them is giving his not getting the desired result Wenger would have hoped for, I feel. Cham was on fire a few weeks ago, now that RvP is threatening his place and is competing with NB he seems to be struggling. Lets hope he can fight more for his place. As for Bendtner he really should be putting the kind of opportunities he got on saturday away. That was the best chance he’ll get to make the first team all season.

    I can’t believe the criticism aimed at Deni tho. He gave his usual level, calm and confident game. Yes the trip was poor and a bit of a basic error. It was rightly criticized by the captain (that’s his job to do it). Over and done with. Other players perhaps could have made a bit more effort but Denilson was certainly not one of them. When things go bad. The poorer fans with lacking knowledge look straight to the easy targets that have previously been given grief and let rip. I imagine it will be doomarific here today and will not play along. Bring on the Ipswich game as mentioned let Song have a rest and maybe Johan needs to be guarded against a very untimely tiredness also (although he would be missed drastically).

    We’ll beat Ipswich, Saturday’s team will come good. Come on Gunners!

Comments are closed.