Arsenal Get A Point Without Making One

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Arsenal 0 – 0 Manchester United

It will be remembered as the season nobody wanted to be crowned champions. The only team showing anything like title-winning form at the moment is Liverpool and they aren’t good enough to win the title. Are they? Such has been the topsy-turvy nature of the season, you wouldn’t rule anything out. Arsenal remain second, Manchester City have a game in hand and one you would expect them to win but this season has been anything but so predictable. The remaining matches between the top four of the Premier League will decide the fate of the title with the teams shifting uncomfortably as just seven points separates first from fifth.

A point may turn out to be a good thing, it just doesn’t feel like it right now. Even the manager was unimpressed, calling it and the Liverpool game, “two bad results“. The nerves in the performance were evident in the attacking lethargy, Giroud is not a dynamic forward and support from midfield was noticeable by its absence. Dropping Oxlade-Chamberlain to accommodate Rosicky was at once surprising and n0t so. The Czech was always going to be recalled but the by-product of that decision was a lack of width, penetration down the flanks was lacking and when the ball was sporadically sent into the area, Giroud found himself stifled by defensive attentions. It’s a common flaw; without Walcott, Arsenal lack natural width with the midfield habitually drifting inside and across the pitch, rather than any purposeful direct endeavour.

Not that the Frenchman was blameless either. After Robin van Persie spurned the sort of opportunity he used to greedily gobble up, Giroud wasted an even better opportunity, failing to put a free header on target; in a game such as this, those chances have to be buried. The tightness of the fixture is highlighted in Laurent Koscielny’s header was the closest Arsenal came to scoring, a well-stationed defender prevented the goal, even if the clearing header was comfortable to make.

Arsène was not despondent afterwards but not enthused either. The handbrake wasn’t needed, the engine hadn’t even been started. Acknowledging that the visitors were unsurprisingly well-drilled defensively, he also admitted that the team were affected by Saturday’s drubbing and focussed their attentions on not conceding. In truth, a point is a fair result with chances at a premium for both sides. Wenger will thank his goalkeeper for that as well. Having denied van Persie in the opening minutes, Szczesny produced an even better save to tip the Dutchman’s header onto the crossbar in the second half.

Little wonder that the defence are pleased with themselves, after conceding five they kept a clean sheet. They handled the visitors attacking triumvirate well; van Persie was anonymous beyond two openings, Mata’s attacking avenues were turned into cul-de-sac’s whilst Rooney resorted to petulance as his frustrations grew. There were well-timed tackles and timely interventions from all of the back four. Mistakes as well, Gibbs was alarmingly caught in possession but like the scoreline, it ended with nought. There was an uncomfortable reminder of Anfield when Areta ceded the ball in the first minute but United never chased Arsenal as Liverpool had. Indeed, Wilshere was unlucky to see a good opportunity snuffed out whilst Rosicky could only watch as De Gea recovered to stop his deflected shot.

Wenger will be most concerned by his attack. The pattern is the same as following defeat at Eastlands. Back-to-back big matches that have shown attacking impotence. Losing Walcott and Ramsey is a blow but the Welshman was not prolific in the month leading up to his injury and Walcott has made been fleetingly available, making his contributions to the campaign all the more telling. Any side would miss both as attacking outlets and goalscorers; Arsenal have yet to find viable solutions, a point the manager acknowledged,

We are a bit short of goals at the moment, you are right. Mathematically we have lost goalscorers with Walcott and Ramsey. At the moment in games like that, you see that.

Lukas Podolski is out of favour with the manager despite being the best finisher at the club. It is surprising but the questions raised about his application on the pitch suggest that his lack of endeavour is the problem. But Wenger himself is not helping by fielding a narrow side. Playing with a single striker, he needs his midfield to push on and stretch the game. Last night they failed to do so on either count. If he is not going to use that option to solve his problems, the question remains unanswered. Perhaps he is genuinely scratching his head in finding the solution with nothing obvious springing to mind.

The lack of support is concerning; isolating Giroud does not promote any sense of goalscoring opportunities. All too often, it leads to attacks frustratingly petering out. This issue is not new, caution prevailing is not new; Arsenal tottered back to their feet following last weekend and look forward to the next two matches. Can they increase their efficiency against Liverpool and Bayern Munich? They have to is the simple, brutal answer.

’til Tomorrow.

144 thoughts on “Arsenal Get A Point Without Making One

  1. MA

    Couldn’t agree more, 4-4-2 with Poldi and Giroud seems to be what both players should be crying out for as Giroud doesn’t quite have the talent to play as a lone striker and Poldi doesn’t like to play with his back to goal. Poldi’s role in the German set up has usually been on the left, or more regularly part of a front 2 with Klose. The only problem would be that a 4-4-2 set up would need us to play with more natural wingers and that is something we don’t do at present.

    Not sure where this idea has come from that Sagna and Gibbs can’t get to the bye line and put a cross in, Gibbs regularly heads for the bye line and plays 1-2s with the player ahead of him and Sagna has been known to get into the corner as well. Last night I was almost begging Sagna not to stop and look to pass it back into a congested midfield. One of the major issues with our play this season has been the lack of width. That with our slow, passing build up makes us very predictable and easy to defend against. When we play the weaker teams our more talented players have finally broken them down, but it has generally been a struggle which is why we seem to be winning ugly. Against the big boys those tactics just don’t work.

  2. @Yogi & MA

    Campbell is going to be sold. Oylmpiacos has come out and said they are trying to sign him on a permanent plus I was reading the other week possibly that Campbel doesn’t see his future at Arsenal and wants a move away from the club. I also think that Campbell would run into the same problem that Podolski is at present. Arsene doesn’t seem capable of writing Santi’s name down on the right wing when he is doing the team sheet.

  3. @MA

    I would love to see us play a 433 again and set up:

    Sczny
    Sagna—Mert—-Kos—Nacho or Gibbs
    ———–Arteta——Mozart——–
    —————-Ozil————-
    Santi——–Giroud———Podolski

  4. Another strange strange thing that me and Bob discussed very briefly during the match.

    Why does it seem like at times Arsene sets us up to attack when we play away from the Emirates against the big clubs but then at the Emirates we play for a draw. Isn’t it suppose to be the other way around?

  5. @Yogi

    Campbell is an unknown, he has 1 year to run after this season and the question becomes will he or won’t be seen in preseason. If not he is obviously gone, but 7 goals in 22 appearances from the wing this season is not terrible for a 21 year old. He does like to run with the ball, but his passing is not always on the mark. He has pace, and this team needs something in that column beyond Theo in wider areas. I’m not saying he’d make it, but I think preseason should be an opportunity to show something before any departure is agreed. He is third highest scorer (equal 3rd) in the Olympiakos Squad.

    Still with Kostas Mitroglou having been sold, I would guess we’ll received an offer from Olympiakos in the summer for his services.

  6. @C & Yogi

    In all likelihood he will be sold for an undisclosed fee. Still, is a side crying out for some natural width (Jesus, any width) we have to start looking somewhere.

  7. @C

    As one commentator pointed out yesterday “it is not about how Arsenal fare against the big teams this season that will define their run for the title, but their ability to win the games against the other 13 sides which they have done so far”. We are 1 point of top and 3 points off 4th, bloody tight and yet against the lesser sides we have had a knack of getting those results.

  8. YW/MA

    I saw quite a lot of Campbell when he was at Real Betis as they often featured on the Sunday evening game on Sky. I thought he looked to be a good player for his age. He has pace and appears comfortable running at players with the ball. I thought he worked fairly hard in supporting his FB as well. I don’t know if he would make it at Arsenal, but I would like to see him in pre season before he’s sold. We could do with another winger as we have limited options with Theo out and Ryo hasn’t really been able to step up after looking promising when he first arrived.

  9. @Wavey

    Ryo is done at the club, he’ll be gone in the summer. Djourou, Le Coq, Park, Podolski, Aneke, Afobe, Diaby (I wish anyway) and Bendtner can all be added to that list of departures.

    I would love to see Campbell in the shirt even if just for preseason to see what he is about, but I think as Yogi and C have pointed out he’ll be sold. The hope well then be that Arsene addresses the need for a wide player in his transfer dealings.

  10. C

    We have been discussing our midfielders passing sideways since the Denilson days. Back then some of us considered it a highly desirable asset since it helped maintain ball possession. 😉

  11. i cant beleive when weve got the players weve got we are talking about gervinho and campbell…

    we can score goals with players weve got..

    we can win the big games with the players weve got..

    we do lack a goalscorer but until summer it is what it is and to be fair weve got one sat on the bench..

  12. I should add, Bacary Sagna, Tomas Rosicky and Lukasz Fabianski are all free to leave at the end of the season as well.

    And of course Miquel will be gone. I think that is everyone 🙂

  13. @JJ

    None of those players give us any width, which is why people are talking about players that either do or did. I think Gervinho was given more than enough time to get it right, he left and is doing markedly better for himself (good on him). Campbell, is an option and moreover an option we own the rights too.

  14. @Wavey

    I know I left Jack out on purpose because at present I wouldn’t start him over Rosicky or Ox but you are right, if Arsene or Jack thinks that he is fit more often than not he is going to start and play the whole match.

  15. @MA

    Yea will be sold and I am like you, I just want some type of width or some type of pace or a combination of the 2.

    I agree it is how we fair against the lesser sides but at present if we played like we did last night I wouldn’t completely fancy us to even get a draw against Shitty and maybe the Chavs. The thing is though that these next couple of weeks and matches will see us play and if our confidence gets shaken from not competing, drawing or beating the bigger clubs it may affect us against even the lesser clubs. I mean even against the lesser clubs if Giroud doesn’t even put a shot on target it won’t matter(just using the example from the match last night).

  16. The Greek Superleague is one thing, the English Premier League is another. Could Joel Campbell replicate the above stats from similar appearances in the EPL? If not, delving into the Transfer Market for a proven winger would be the more prudent action to take. To me, making do with sup-par players in the foolish hope of them becoming worldbeaters 4/5/6 seasons later ought to be a thing of the past.

  17. @Bill

    Yea some did back then yet Denilson was ALWAYS thought of negatively for it but Arteta praised for it. Strange how things happen at this club sometimes.

  18. @MA

    Didn’t Rosicky just sign a 2 year deal last summer or am I mistaken?

    One player that won’t be going anywhere is Hayden who just put pen to paper on a new deal.

    Funny thing is, our summer needs grows by the match and month. First it was a striker, now its somebody in the midfield that is a young and experienced to replace Arteta and Flamini whose legs are letting them down as the season goes on, more pace, a RB, a winger/winger type to hold us over until Theo comes back. Damn and the likely hood of things getting addressed, not very high.

  19. Rooney did look especially gloomy though. Him and Persie both looked miserable as hell. Chelsea must really have wanted Mata out with a passion, why els move to a club that is what are they now? 10th? Everyone laughed when Mou refused to let Ba go on loan to Arsenal and sold Mata to United. But maybe, just maybe he was right this time.

    One thing is sure, with BA able to rotate with Giroud we would probably have scored more goals and Mata has had absolutely no impact at all at United so far.

  20. People lets not forget as I was looking at the fixture list, all the big clubs have to go Anfield. If clubs like Spuds, Mashitty and others go there and look to attack then they are in for a rude awakening as players like Countinho and Sterling play with much much more confidence.

  21. C

    I think Arsene will do some significant rotating for the FA cup game. I would be shocked if Podolski does not play. Perhaps he will be wide left with Nik B as CF or Podolski might get a shot at CF. I did not put a whole lot of importance in Podolski scoring 2 against Coventry and I can understand why Arsene didn’t either. However, If he gets a goal and plays well against Liverpool it would be a lot more meaningful and the boss has got to start using him more often. If LP struggles to make an impression then it will move him even further down the pecking order.

  22. Read Mourinho’s latest mind game quote. Let’s hope it motivates our players to go and win the league.

    ‘Arsenal have spent many, many years working together. Many, many years making these players grow up and achieve this maturity level,’ he said.
    ‘These guys, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs, they are not kids any more. They were kids but in this moment they are mature players.
    ‘The manager with this group of players, four, five or six years working with these players and then adding fantastic players like Mezut Ozil, Santi Cazorla or Per Mertesacker to the team, these last pieces of experiences. I think they are very good team.’

  23. Well when GIroud has a bad day he is very close to Bendtner on an average day. A Bendtner on a good day is a lot better than a exhausted Giroud. Hope AW sees this to. As its not fair to Giroud or to the team to play him and expect a super performance when the guy is not 100% fit. In the PL if you are maybe 93 % fit you will be found out. Simple as.

  24. @Bill

    Its funny you didn’t put much into Podolski putting 2 past Coventry but put so much into Ox scoring 2 against Palace only for him to be in effective in his next 2 appearances.

    I don’t think we will see whole sale changes. I do think that one of Santi or Ozil will be rested. What do you consider to be a good impression? If he helps maintain possession for the match and we don’t create anything its 0-0 and then he scores the winner, is that considered a good impression or does he have to be impactful for the whole match?

  25. I’ll play an optimist for a change.

    The result was a good one. A point and a clean sheet against a desperate opponent who came to win. We clearly prioritized the defense after the Saturday game, and the attack was neglected as a result.

    And you know who did not score.

    We’ll be more adventurous in the FA cup where a replay wold be the worst result. The Munich game is irrelevant and there to be enjoyed. I hope Arsene does not put all his eggs in the Munich basket, because I think the following game against Sunderland will be tough and trend-setting.

    We miss Theo big time.

  26. C. @ 8:52

    Coventry is 2 or levels below us so it’s easy to dismiss a game like that just like a preseason game.

    Regarding Ox, I always liked him. I think he is a major raw talent and continue to hope that he will have his break out any time soon. I wish we had sent him on loan last season or the season before and that experience might have helped him be ready to make a significant contribution this season. I want him to be a high scoring wide forward similar to what we hoped arshavin/Gerv/podolski were going to be. 2 goals against a solid highly organized Crystal Palace was a big deal, because we really needed those points and unlike the game against Coventry no one else was going to score that day.

    However, tbh the real answer to your question is that I tend to put on the rose colored glasses for anything regarding Ox.

  27. An excellent piece on Wilshere here: http://wearethenorthbank.com/talented-mr-wilshere/
    Thought the author hit the nail on the head when he said this: “… Jack Wilshere, his errant positioning and love for an aimless roam up the pitch, with little intention of returning to his station”
    IMO, Arsenal will never WIN the big matches if Wilshere starts at CM and Arsene is a fool to trust him anywhere deep without 2 CMs alongside him (as he will go upfront anyway)..

  28. @Bill

    You do realize that Podolski was the only player that scored prior to Santi and Giroud getting goals later in the match once it was already decided by Podolski right? You can dismiss it but had Podolski not scored would it have been certain that we would have scored on the day, we had seen it done before the previous year when we went out of the FA Cup against Blackpool. The players can only play against the teams that are put infront of them. Podolski was played against Coventry and he scored but guess what, he also scored against West Ham on a day when we couldn’t score and he scored in other matches against opponents not named Coventry so yea. Also you can’t dismiss it like preseason because playing in the FA Cup is different than playing in the preseason my friend.

    But you didn’t answer my questions which were:

    What do you consider to be a good impression? If he helps maintain possession for the match and we don’t create anything its 0-0 and then he scores the winner, is that considered a good impression or does he have to be impactful for the whole match?

  29. C

    You can’t define the strict parameters of what it means to play a good game . The thing we need him to do is score. It will be hard to say he had a good game if he does not score a goal or at least get an assist or 2. I won’t watch him closely enough to know how well he really defends on the wing. If he scores a goal or 2 against Liverpool then I think it would be insane for the boss not to give him another start. If he plays the way he did vs Crystal Palace then it won’t help his cause for more playing time.

  30. C. @ 9:22.

    “Also you can’t dismiss it like preseason because playing in the FA Cup is different than playing in the preseason my friend.”

    Just like you or anyone else on the blog, I can do whatever I want as long as yogi does not care. 😉

  31. @bill

    I agree about him scoring goals or getting assists. But what about if he gets into dangerous positions and the keeper makes save after save then still that has to be considered a good performance and doesn’t deserve a player to be dropped for that. Against Palace he got into those dangerous positions and also played Santi and almost played Giroud in. If goals is the standard that you have set for him then him being dropped after the West Ham match was insane. I think and it was discussed earlier with you, Moe and Jonny; Arsene has players that he gives numerous chances to and players he doesn’t.

  32. Anyways, I’m off work and set to drive home in all this snow. Have a good nite and look forward to more discussions and another brilliant post in the morning.

  33. C

    If he scores then he has had a good game almost no matter what else happens. If he dies not score then deciding if he has a good game or not becomes highly subjective and 2 people can watch the same game and have very differing opinions. Hopefully he will score 1 or 2 goals and there will be no question in anyone’s mind that Arsene needs to get his head out of his butt and at least give LP some chances to start and move cazorla to the right.

    The way our attacking football has bogged down I can’t believe having LP play could hurt us. Even if he does not defend well on the flank I think its worth the risk to see if we could score some more goals. The way our results were going I can understand Arsene not wanting to make a major change. I think we have been playing with very little margin for error for a long time because of our toothless attack and it is finally starting to cause us to drop points.

  34. Ozil stast this season 12 assist and 8 goals in all competitions. If he gets between 15 and 20 assists and 10 goals in his first season that is very good indeed.. Almost like Cazorlas first saxon.

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