West Bromwich Albion 3 – 1 Arsenal
A shambles; a complete and utter shambles.
And that’s just the supporters. As if it wasn’t bad enough for one plane to fly over the Hawthorns, we had two. One telling Le Boss to sling his hook, the other telling him he’s greatly loved. You lot have more money than sense.
This is car-crash TV, and I for one, am fully tuned in, curious to find the depths to which you will slump next. I’m also thinking of investing in tin foil hats; £4.99 seems a fair price. I’ll post a link soon.
And it’s more entertaining than the torpid fare served up by the players. Yesterday’s performance was a week in the making. It is utterly baffling how the basics learned on the training pitches are so quickly and collectively forgotten. None of Albion’s goals made you sit back and think, “Yeah, that was unstoppable”. They were all sloppy defending, with the repetitive nature of Dawson’s headers underlining the malaise at Arsenal.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, wheeled out to the media post-match presumably on the basis that he has a few brownie points to use up, underlined that view:
“If you want to defend set plays you’ve got to be first on the ball. Obviously for the two goals we didn’t do that. We knew who their danger men were and we failed to stop them, which is really disappointing.
“I guess we will look at that and have to review what went wrong.
“Dawson’s got the run and attacked the ball and finished them off for both goals. It’s really disappointing as we knew we had to be careful of him.
“Set plays are a massive part of the game and Tony Pulis’ sides do it better than anyone. We couldn’t deal with it today.“
Over The Wall
I make no secret of my view that because we are poor at set-pieces in an attacking sense, our defending of them will be similarly impacted. If you can’t deliver the ball properly when it is to your advantage, it stands to reason that you’ll be as bad when it comes to delivery for practising defending set-pieces.
When you’ve got a sparkling attack, you can get away with these mistakes but yesterday, we had 77% possession and two shots on target all afternoon. Two! At the front and the back, we’re misfiring; impotent and scared to fart in case we follow through.
Arsène blamed the pitch, the passing being too slow but surprisingly gave the injuries suffered a relatively free pass. Losing Cech didn’t help but let’s not forget, we’d already conceded a bad goal at that point. The tackle on Alexis is one which needs to be eradicated from the game. The only way it happens is with strong refereeing – maybe that comes with video technology – but blaming the broadcasters misses the point.
It’s officials and while they all watch Sky’s coverage – no more dodgy streams, chaps – whether a commentator thinks it’s a good tackle is irrelevant to them. This is a cultural indicator; that kind of tackle has always been acceptable in England and until the FA step in or the PGMO come up with a more effective sanction than refereeing in the Championship, there’s no way talentless hoofers like McClean are going to stop.
Wenger disagrees, publicly at least, that he’s lost the dressing room,
“I think you don’t see any obvious signs of lack of attitude. That’s what people always criticise when you lose a game. I think we took the responsibility to take the game to them, and it didn’t work today. We are certainly a bit short of confidence as well, but I don’t think it’s an attitude problem.”
Show of Strength
During one of your many re-runs of the ninety minutes, Arsène, watch their body language. They aren’t trying anymore. One set back and heads drop, not even raised again with a quick equaliser. That’s known as losing the dressing room. The stories about Alexis and others arguing is another signal; not being able to keep a lid on the situation and sniping from those who think there’s something to gain by protecting you.
That’s over now anyway. It’s hard to know whether Arsène felt goaded into the comment or if it is was just an emotional reaction, but he let it be known that he had made his mind up about his future. No-one else knew at that point but I bet Ivan and Stan know now. The international break was always the best time to release the information to the world; Wenger will be away on broadcasting duties and that loyalty to his paymasters will payback in an interview with beIN at some point in the next few days, announcing his future is away from the Emirates.
That’s what it feels like, right now. Before I was sure that he was determined to make the mistake of staying again but after yesterday, and the ‘enigmatic’ delivery at the press conference, I’m inclined to think he’s off.
However, that’s not the immediate problem. Working out how to right the wrongs of the worst run in the club’s recent history – since Stewart Houston was boss, apparently – has to be the priority. Ten days without the players makes that the hardest solution to find. Getting them out of the toxic atmosphere may just be the answer.
Finally, a reminder that Dad’s Jukebox is plugged in and 1996 is on the turntable.