Arsenal Duck The Challenge Of Winning At Anfield

mr2

Liverpool 2 – 2 Arsenal

1 – 0 Coutinho (45)
1 – 1 Debuchy (45+2)
1 – 2 Giroud (65)
2 – 2 Skrtel (90+6)

Sent off: Borini (90+2)

The problem with conceding a late equaliser is deflation. It feels worse than defeat. You usually have time to come to terms with losing, the goal that seals the outcome rarely comes so late in the game that you cannot reconcile yourself to the outcome.

Even then, a late goal conceded is met with any number of variations on “Well, that’s it“. The points are gone, the mindset is inevitably different. An equaliser? Pffft, the euphoria of victory has taken hold and with a couple of minutes left, you know that outcome has just become unlikely. Utter deflation. Three points gleefully embraced are gone, just one remains.

You are by now familiar with the embarrassing statistics; the lowest possession percentage since records began, registering less than ten shots all game. For a club which thrives on statistics, that invents new trophies and standards on their back, there isn’t even this crumb of comfort upon which to feed this morning.

Even with the benefit of Borini’s deserved yellow card, the unplanned rope-a-dope failed to yield the three points on offer. Faint title hopes already been damaged beyond repair as reflected in the latest TonyBet Premier League football betting. There is not likely to be any improvement in those in the near future with this level of performance.

Arsène noted that, in part, the players were scarred by the savagery of last season’s defeat. It’s a staggering admission, this is something that should have been used a spur to an aggressive performance from the kick-off became a shackle, inducing timidity in performance.

Even worse was the admission that Arsenal were out-thought tactically in the first half. There was nothing unfamiliar about the way Liverpool played; they used 3-4-3 at Old Trafford, at whatever Dean Court is called now. Brendan Rodgers even bragged in midweek that he should be hailed as a tactical genius for using it.

Was nobody at Arsenal paying attention?

But what I think gnaws away most in the manner in which Liverpool scored. Szczesny played well yesterday, making several telling interventions. It isn’t lauded like De Gea’s last weekend because his defence, midfield and attack let him down. Badly.

Giroud was at fault for the first, the simplest of tasks – keeping possession – as half-time approached proved beyond him with the ball gifted back to Liverpool midway in the Arsenal half. Szczesny could do little about Coutinho’s shot.

As for the equaliser, why was Skrtel offered a free run at the ball as it came in? Chambers was out of position, Mertesacker culpable of ducking out of the way lest he be hit by ball or man whilst Gibbs had gone walkabout from the near post. A woeful condemnation of zonal marking at set-pieces.

Yet despite the repeated failures, we still employ the system. How bad must the players be at man-to-man marking for that to be the case?

All too familiar.

There were positives. The quick response to Coutinho’s goal with an ugly goal, head tennis from Mertesacker led to a well-placed goal from Debuchy. Un-Arsenal like in its execution but credit the players for that.

And Giroud, a menace to his own defence, is more so to opponents, applying the finish that the best Arsenal move of the game needed. Demanded. Another clinical finish which won’t do his coiffured confidence any harm at all.

It’s what we needed, the lead in a game where performance levels weren’t good enough. Winning ugly but the same mantra was repeated at the final whistle. Arsenal were undone by their failings, the players unable to close out a game. Unable to take points off from a ‘big’ fixture.

The result leaves Arsenal sixth, two points behind Southampton, a further two in West Ham’s wake. Southampton and West Ham. Let that sink in for a moment. Credit should be given to both sides for finding the form to take them that high in the table but it condemns Arsenal’s inconsistency.

Victories over the pair are imperative; a point in either fixture is not going to be a good result, no matter what anyone tells you. In pursuit, Arsenal need to dig in and find the resolve which has carried them over the line in previous seasons. It won’t be easy if yesterday is anything to go by.

Look, I know Arsenal are missing key players and that has an impact but let’s be honest, when they were fit, we weren’t seeing any vastly improved performances.

Arsène reacted to Olivier Giroud’s injury by signing Danny Welbeck. Knowing of Laurent Koscielny’s injury and the likelihood of Vermaelen leaving (or being injured if he stayed) begs the question as to why a man who is not scared of spending money, chose not to.

Every summer sees the demand for a defensive midfielder. There have probably been a full XI of them in the past few years but Arsène has resisted quite willingly so far. The problem with this position is tactical. The isolation of the first half highlighted how easily the midfield trio of Arsenal can be neutralised. Outnumbered and outmanoeuvred.

The boost that winning the FA Cup was supposed to bring hasn’t been seen. Or if it has, how bad would this season have been? There wasn’t any expectation of a title win but a tangible sign of progressing towards that aim? A comfortable and assured third place would have felt like that. Even a ding-dong battle with a good side for that outcome would be an improvement of witnessing the sheer mediocrity above us in the table.

It hasn’t happened and yesterday offered very little hope of that prospect.

’til Tomorrow.

84 thoughts on “Arsenal Duck The Challenge Of Winning At Anfield

  1. dalm says:

    Hard game to watch and never seemed like we would get anything from the game – deservedly behind…then bam an equalizer and then we ride our luck, take the lead and the oppo go down a player…just hold on for a few mins…very deflated.

  2. consolsbob says:

    It feels like we are in limbo.

    There has been a feeling of drift and ennui about , alienation if you like, ever since Arsene made his comment about 2017.

    It’s just too far away to care about in a footballing sense. That has always been next Saturday, the next match.

    It’s not that I want him to leave immediately, although I do, it’s the sheer lack of any expectation or excitement about the club. I can’t anticipate anything. Nothing to look forward too.

    The same old performances and the same old, although increasingly astonishing, excuses.

    A poor soap opera. Tune in next week? Why?

  3. P says:

    No leaders in that team.

    Camera was on Chambers for that corner and it was obvious in his face that he wasn’t sure what he/the defence was doing. He was actually looking over at Mertesacker, but the BFG failed to show the lad any leadership, instead leaving him and the rest of the defence to fail, whilst he tried to get out of the way of any action. Shameful.

  4. Phil says:

    Hi YW,
    You would think one of the roles of a manager is to prevent or limit any scarring of previous performances. Our manager uses it to, what, explain the performance? Whilst at the sometime reminding all opposition that we are, despite being often told the opposite, mentally weak.

  5. Phil says:

    On a positive note, I just opened the Shiraz, and the BBQ is fired up awaiting its gift of melt in your mouth meat.

  6. The Arse in The Gamb says:

    We can’t ‘reply’. We are using an old phone, there is no credit and we are on the wrong network.

  7. Adelaide Gooner says:

    We deserve and will achieve mid table mediocrity. No use pretending, we’re a very ordinary football team. No leadership, very little system and unable to challenge our so called rivals

  8. luckyarsenal says:

    We are getting worse. It is only a matter of time before we get humped again.

    No wonder the scousers were chanting, “Were invisible, now invisible.”

  9. consolsbob says:

    Lucky man, Phil.

    It’s a bit early in the UK and I am off across Dartmoor to pick up a couple of Grandsons.

    Maybe when I get back.

  10. Phil says:

    I was watching the game unfold, and saw us trying to hold on. We didn’t look very composed, and the set up for their corner just failed miserably again.

  11. Phil says:

    Sounds good Cbob,
    My daughter just arrived home today from London for the Christmas break.

  12. nicky says:

    I remember my great grandfather telling me some 80 years ago
    “You can only play as well as the other team allows”.
    And yesterday, Liverpool did not allow us time or space to play.
    They were at home, of course, and we were cruelly short of key men. Even so, the schoolboy errors which conceded the Liverpool equaliser were inexcusable.
    What could we have done with Ozil, Ramsey, Walcott, Kos, a fully fit OX and Co? A clear win, in my opinion.
    How I wish that our appalling injury record could be brought to an end. We can only give the new medical regime time and space to provide the answer.
    With the January Transfer Window open in a week or so, we can but hope that behind the scenes, negotiations are already well advanced to sign players in those positions where added strength is needed. Time will tell.

  13. consolsbob says:

    Very nice for you, Phil.

    Concentrate on what actually matters.

    Have a good one and throw a prawn on for me.

  14. Shubham says:

    How many headed goals do we need to concede before Wenger/Bould does something? Remember leading 2-1 against City, then again yesterday. Headed equalisers from corners, same mistakes, same results. Don’t know what these players think during such situations. No one seems to take charge. Poor display from the boys last night. OX was OMG (how bad can some one be), Chambers is really unfit for the full back role. Alexis was famished. He couldn’t even sprint properly….Bad performance but relatively positive outcome. 1 point is better than nothing. Hope we get back some players immediately. Else, QPR and West Ham will be slogs.

  15. Buffalo says:

    Pity Koewn and Adams aren’t around to have a word with Per. If i was his boss he’d be getting a final warning, never again or your done. Disgraceful but just shows how there is no will to win in this team at all and no fear of consequences of failure. Can you imagine fergie letting Per get away with this sort of wimpishness consistently….how many caps for germany ? wtf ? Nicely, nicely oh we’ve played appallingly again. I was willing Liverpool to equalise as i am a fair man. Arsenal Apathy, please leave your check to usa on the way out.

  16. andy1886 says:

    Consider this: Chelsea are top of the table, when Maureen came back and they started inconsistently there were Gooners posting that he’s be sacked within a year. Second are Citeh, and already Pellegrini has already been suggested for the sack this season. Third are United, and I lost count of the number of posters who were laughing about their performance earlier this year and saying LVG wouldn’t last five minutes. West Ham? Fat Sam was supposed to get he chop half a dozen times. Then Southampton – okay Koeman hasn’t been threatened with the chop yet but they did sell half a team in the summer. Level on points with us are the Spuds – who we’ve been laughing at and suggesting their manager will last about as long as the last two or three, and yesterday we were tactically out thought by a manager that Santori tells us isn’t fit to manage at the top level (LMA manager of the year btw Santori – way to go!).

    So given all that why is it that to suggest Arsene could be sacked is considered by some to be heresy?

  17. Buffalo says:

    What does Bould do, i’m mystified ?! We all know there is one power who allows no other ideas. fine when you are winning, ludicrous otherwise.

  18. Harry says:

    A fair assessment, YW.

    Ennui is a good word for it Bob.

    When Liverpool (inevitably?) equalised I merely shook my head and cursed under me breath. This is Arsenal now, has been for a time, this is what we are and this is what we do.

    I s’pose a draw at Anfield is never a bad result, in isolation, even against a shit Liverpool (which we, er, somehow conspired to make look like proper contenders). We’ve dropped far too many points as it though.

    As for the injuries, I think YW nails it, I didn’t remember any vast improvement when we had ’em fit. Mertesacker looks cream crackered though.

    Need another good cup run.

  19. jlsgooner says:

    With Brendan Rogers now believing a top 4 is on the cards he is singing from the same song sheet as AW , belief or lack of with the rest of the premier league teams that a top 3 is not an option anymore.
    We need to get some belief and know how from somewhere otherwise we will continue to be sucked into the mire of premier league mediocrity and the occasional cup run, and waiting for 2017 is surely not an option.

  20. Phil says:

    Have to say, those images of BFG ducking his head are pretty damning.
    Yes, a one frame shot can be misleading, but I am not sure how he would explain his actions to his team mates, and to the mirror.

  21. Harry says:

    They don’t look good Phil. One of a few occasions this season where he’s made me wince. Apart from the obvious (badly missing Koscielny), perhaps he’s just in serious need of a little rest (World cup, no pre-season). Which, of course, hasn’t been possible….

  22. Specialist in Failure says:

    Am I crazy? Please tell me!

    What was that? If not madness, incompetence, insipidness, and just mediocrity.

    Has this man lost it completely.

    I said 2 up front. Not 3. Drop Giroud or Alexis back and leave 2 up front once you realised you lost the midfield.

    What did he do to neutralise the tight midfiled pack of Gerrard, Coutinho, Lucas and Lallana?

    Why play the Ox. Came off injured. Suicidal.

    Wenger has killed Jack’s career now he is killing the Ox and Walcott’s career.

    How do you give them a gift in the last minute and to Skrtl of all people. Why didn’t Chambers go to him after Monreal pointed him out as a danger and why did Gibbs leave his line.

    I have said it for years. AW coaches Beach Football teams.

    Where was the steel at the back.

    Where were the fast counter attacks.

    Where was the midfield general?

    To say we still had scars from last year is just really weak? What are these players? Babies. Why was not the response to inflict double damage to them. Instead my poor players were scarred from last year. Is this guy serious. I know you should encourage and protect players but this is just PR bubbles. Stop this psychotic PR rubbish.

    Yes we are building a new stadium and we can’t buy players but look we do so well- type of rubbish.

    Firstly, whether the club is building a new stadium or has or has no money is none of Wenger’s business. Your job is to coach/manage a Championship winning team.

    Or this beauty. We showed mental strength today. Or, We need to defend better. Or how about this one, Ozil is out. We do not know for how long. We are waiting on tests.

    Six months later when all is lost… we all cheer because Ozil, Jack and Diaby are back. Yes they are back but the war is over.

    Sxzxsxny is too young. Great keeper for his age but behind Courtois and Degea.

    Debuchy – great buy. Some steel.

    Per. Sorry but should be third or fourth pick on the reserve bench.

    Koscielny – Injured again. Surprise surprise.

    Gibbs. He is no Ashley Cole. Needs a kick up the bum.

    Chambers. A 21 year old holding up the whole Arsenal defence. Wow what a smart move that is?

    Flamini. Arteta. Please. Should be third or fourth choice. Same with Arteta. Where is the DM general?

    Meanwhile Alex Song is playing great for West Ham. And we bring back Coquelin from Charlton. What a genius?

    And Fab is playing for Chelsea. Another great buy from Mourinho. Hope you win the League Fab!

    We don’t a DM general one because Wenger only wants midfield midgets. Clone after clone.

    Small psudo attacking midfielders. A whole team of them and then we wonder there is no balance.

    Bit like building a car with nice leather seats but no engine. If you look closely at Rolls Royce and Bentley they have the luxury but beasts of engines underneath.

    The Ox. Great but injured again. Thanks Wenger. Why play him yesterday. Oh, sorry I forgot everyone is injured.
    Jack. Great but injured again. Thanks Wenger.
    Rambo. Rubbish. The Ox. Injured again. Thanks Wenger.
    Walcott. Injured again. Thanks Wenger. Blame it on England.

    Alexis. How many times I can around in a circle. And again.

    Santi. How many times can I run around in a circle. Watch me get knocked off the ball. Again.

    Wellbeck. Has not shown the feather or first touch to really excel.

    Giroud. Like Arsenal. All great against QPR, Leicester and WBA. But disappears when it really matters.

    I am not even disappointed anymore. I just want change.

    Mourinho was dead right. Wenger is a Specialist in Failure. A good CEO would have fired Wenger after the 4-4 Newcastel after we were up 0-4. Now that is what I call specialist in failure.

    This 1-2 and draw 2-2 in the 97th minute against ten men was a just a yearning to get back to the highs of specialising in failure.

    The thing is that this speicalisation in failure is actually tragedy. It keeps fans in state of frenzy, in hope, despair, and love. We have have an inverse failure. the nail-biting finsih to see if we can get 4th spot.

    Just wait. There will be many more special failures this season. They are all scripted by Wenger.

    If only we could buy a good player. if only the team would gel. I only Ozil was playing. If only, if only. If only we could buy someone in January. The soap opera continues. The PR bubbles get manufactured with greater care than the tactics of the team.

    We are all caught in the tragedy. What is a tragedy and why is it the most gripping emotion to watch as a fan. Because we hope and beleive that the great Arsenal can somehow turn into the Invincibles at any moment but at the same time we also know that we will be demoralised.

    Wenger knows this. He may not know much else but he is a master of tragedy and a master of PR. He manufactures this. He through his ineptness and stupidity put the team on the back foot against 10 men to lose in a cowardly manner again. The hero was wounded at Anfield last year. Let’s feel sorry for the wounded coward who was once a psuedo hero.

    When will people realise this Wenger is really a Clousseau.

    Oh. Yes I forgot. of course we will play scintillating football against QPR and win handsomely and maybe even beat Monaco. Then everything is alright in the tragedy. We get a brief respite, We ask ouselves could it really be. Could the hero really overcome the monsters and be victorious.

    There is only one Arsene Wenger is the chant. How could Arsenal fans be so ill mannered to question what this great man has done for the club.

    Thenw e lose and back again to the PR machine. We have money. But, I do not need anybody. The transfer market is difficult. Not sure why other billionaire owners don’t have problems with the transfer market.

    Enough of that. I will return to reading Pep’s latest book and dream what it would be like to have a proper coach. Not a bumbling Clousseau whow in reality bubled and stumbled across the INvincibles at a time when all the stars and the universe were lined up perfectly for him.

  23. Ian says:

    I hope that whatever club we approach for a new CB this window will say ‘yes’ to our request.

    How the BFG has won as many caps for Germany as he has is very much a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma!

  24. andy1886 says:

    I have to agree with Harry – look at Mert’s stats and you’ll see that he has played a ridiculous number of games with virtually no rest over the last couple of seasons. Throw in Kos’ achillies problem which we knew about in the summer and then TV’s departure (also confirmation of JD’s sale to Hamburger SV) and whoever failed to find a half decent CB (or decided we could do without) needs sacking.

  25. nicky says:

    Regardless of the criticism of Mertesacker over Liverpool’s equalizing goal, the real culprit was Gibbs who was ball watching instead of copying Flamini and guarding Szczesney’s left side as he was trained to do.

  26. Ian says:

    From what I watched the whole team were culpable for the majority of the game!!!

  27. Phil says:

    Harry,
    He definitely needs a rest. The mind and body need refreshing.
    The problem here is , he dropped his knees to avoid the ball.
    However hopefully he puts it behind him, and regains the respect he has probably lost, by putting his body on the line next time

  28. C says:

    Great post and summation of a match were there were both negatives and positives to take from the match.

    Our quick response was exactly what we needed and Giroud’s finish was that of a confident striker. Santi dazzled and continues to improve and show the class that he does have when in form. While Mert was culpbable for the goal, I thought he played well next to Debuchy even though they were constantly being let down by the midfield and their FB’s. I heard somebody say something about Mert and Debuchy trying to close down space and being drawn out, the bigger question or comment that should have been made was where were Flamini and Ox to protect and shield them.

    The negatives, I’m sorry but can somebody explain to me why a RB was playing CB when there was a CB(Chambers has played best when played at CB IMHO) playing RB. Not to mention why play Chambers or not make the switch when Sterling was time and time again simply blowing past Chambers with both pace and quickness. I will honestly say, if Liverpool had Sturridge or any striker, we would have been destroyed.

  29. consolsbob says:

    Very true, YW.

    Taking four, count ’em, four, grandsons to see Father Christmas at Cotehele this afternoon.

    Fortunately, No. 2 stepson is also coming so it’s pub time as soon as we are out of there!

    I bloody need a drink.

  30. Wavey says:

    We all come on here and vent out spleens week in and week out. Pointing out the same deficiencies and mistakes on a regular basis. Spotting the holes in the team (and the squad) and reviewing the options for additions to plug those gaps. Discussing the action on the pitch during the match and the ways the manager can add value from the touchline or make substitutions to change our lot. Some have been doing this for many years.
    Why doesn’t our manager seem to do any of those things? Friends of mine suggest things going on behind the scenes, or circumstances out of Wenger’s hands that led us to where we are. This has caused stand up rows, because it’s bullshit. This club is focussed around one man who is stubborn and set in his ways, who believes that his way is the right way, who doesn’t adapt to a team deliberately set out to frustrate his game plan. A man who has done so well by the club in the past that he is given licence to drive it into the ground now. A man who needs to leave sooner rather than later.

  31. C says:

    @andy

    I think that is the thing people are forgetting about Mert, since his arrival, Arsene hasn’t rested him, NOT even for the CC and FA Cup matches, often he was played instead of Verm or Kos. Check the stats of Mert’s matches played for club and country since 2010 when he was still at Bremen:

    Bremen
    10/11: 51 appearances
    Arsenal(transferred at the end of summer)
    11/12: 36 appearance
    12/13: 53 appearances(52 were starts 1 sub appearance and 1 red card)
    13/14: 62 appearances(11 for country and for Arsenal played the full 90 in every match except for 2 subs appearances in the FA Cup run)
    14/15: 26 appearances (2 subs)

    Over a 5 year period, he has appeared in 228 matches and only 5 of those were sub appearances or matches that he didn’t finish the 90(because of a red card). Compare that to say Giroud who has played in only 216 matches where 100 of those were sub appearances or Kos who has played 202 matches with 9 appearances and didn’t play for France until 12/13.

  32. Harry says:

    Well I haven’t the foggiest who on earth could be responsible for this situation, Andy 😉

    I don’t like to see that either Phil. Just trying to find possible reasons he’s been so off the pace (not that he had any of that particular commodity to begin with like). It’s difficult to believe, as I’ve seen suggested elsewhere, that having been part of a World Cup winning squad, he can no longer be arsed. Doesn’t strike me as that sort of person/player. What is he now though? 30? not old, but when you factor in the sheer number of games on the trot, it’s fair to conclude that he perhaps needs a break. Which of course brings us right back to where we started, and the lack of adequate cover….

    I don’t think anyone is seeking to scapegoat him for yesterday Nicky (well not here, maybe they are on twatter, I dunno). He was culpable, for want of a better word, but most of ’em were. Collectively, with one or two honourable exceptions, Arsenal were bobbins.

  33. C says:

    O Arsene:

    ‘We had problems to get our flow going,’ Wenger said.

    ‘We did not have enough possession in the game. In the first half it was down to tactical and some psychological reasons: maybe bad memories from last year. Some players were not at their best.

    ‘I felt we played with the handbrake too much, in the first half especially, in the second half we played much better but at 2-1 we sat back too much.

    ‘When you don’t score goal number three you are under threat to concede a second.

    ‘Overall it is a fair result but a frustrating result for us because they came back when we had plenty of defenders on the pitch and could have defended the set-piece much better.’

  34. NCGunner says:

    Agree with most everything here.

    It is quite simply maddening to be us (Arsenal fans/supporters) right now. I mean utterly, unbelievably maddening to the point of psychologically damaging.

    It’s everything….literally everything that contributes to what we saw yesterday, and indeed what we have more or less seen thus far this season. Bitten by injury which is only different in that it seems to get worse each season, without any reasonable explanation or solution by anyone in the club…..

    Willingly not signing the necessary number of players to supplement the squad in positions that…even if we are fit…were necessary. Central defense and base of midfield.

    Because of the lack of resources and predictable injury record, having to overplay those that are fit until they eventually break down because their literally is nobody else (see Oxlade Chamberlain yesterday). And so the injury circle continues in its cycle.

    The inevitable outcome of a set piece leading to our undoing.

    The utter madness of hitting the FIRST MAN on the delivery of corner which leads to an almost instantaneous counterattack by the opposition…..and then doing the same thing literally over and over and over.

    The only thing I can be sure of is that I will adequately supply myself with alocohol over this festive period because the beloved Arsenal may require my intake to increase more than usual.

    nc.

  35. SV says:

    What happened to Mert?

    The same that happened to other international defenders who under proper coaching and behind an organized midfield would do a half decent job, like Gallas or Scillacci.

    Somehow yeesterday we oversaw the fact that the Liverpool defence involved a certain Kolo Toure. The same player who was sold by Arsene to Man City because he could not get along with the at the time captain, Gallas. Finilly enough, Gallas was sold next season to the Tots. That’s a first team CB pairing dismantled in 12 months.

    Am I alone in thinking that Toure still would do a decent job for us?

    Am I also alone in thinking that Barezi and Madlini would be exposed after playing for a while in Arsene’s team?

    And am I alone in thinking that our captaincy problems are due to the fact that Arsene does not tolerate strong outspoken personalities around him?

  36. Sam says:

    White Men Can’t Jump. Per’s favourite film? Joking apart, I feel sorry for him. He looks mentally and physically stuffed, playing every game all game, often playing left CB with a makeshift partner much of the time. Knowing Koscielny is most unlikely to be fit anytime soon, or for long. Watching young Chambers get roasted by anyone with pace. Spectacularly obvious to all but The Man In Charge.
    Talking of which, any other JJ Cale fans on here? How about Wenger as “The Problem” – the song he wrote about Bush (jnr) “the man in charge has got to go”
    lyrics here http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/jjcale/theproblem.html
    catchy tune too. Stuck in my head for some reason.

    Merry Christmas. Eat, drink, be happy, don’t think about M. “frein à main” Wenger until Boxing Day.

  37. C says:

    @SV

    I tend to agree with all of that not to mention I do think that our CB’s as has been regularly talked about are left brutually exposed not to mention Mert has had to play next to 3 different players who are trying to learn how to play CB in Nacho, Debuchy and Chambers(still learning at RB and CB to be fair).

    I completely agree with you about the strong outspoken personality thing. Last season the Goonerverse regularly applauded and cheered Mert for being an outspoke personlity and holding players accountable(go ask Ozil how it feels). Then this season he was outspoken at the beginning of the season about the training regiment and players needing to focus, Arsene came out and then Arteta came out and rubbished what Mert said and said he was wrong and he hasn’t said much since.

  38. C says:

    On a positive note though, Santi’s form has picked up and it would be really good if it continued.

    Also, I think Sczny played really well yesterday and couldn’t do anything about either one of Liverpool’s goals. I actually thought that without him, we would have conceded 5 or 6.

  39. Bill says:

    YW

    Balance and accurate review of the game. I have always preferred to focus on the result rather then the performance. However, yesterday’s performance was a world class stinker. I really believe that the game yesterday and the one at Stoke are the result of the team going into full blown complacency mode. They know as well as anyone that we are only a couple points out of first place with more then 1/2 a season to go so there is no real need to shift into higher gear yet.

    I understand mailing in your performance in a mid season game that probably won’t have a real effect on our final position. However, we started this season with high hopes and the momentum of the FA cup and many people thought we had a real chance to build on last season and challenge for a title. Every big team in the Europe had to deal with the world cup hangover but, we used that as an excuse to give ourselves permission to start the season in neutral and fell out of any contention for the title race by October. To me that is much much more frustrating then playing like crap yesterday.

  40. Bill says:

    The frustrating thing about yesterday for me is not the performance but giving up the late goal. That was totally unacceptable. No matter how badly you played, any decent team should be able to finish out a game that they are ahead in the 90th minute no matter badly you played. Top of the table teams get results even when they play poorly. You have to be able to win ugly if you are ever going to challenge for a title. For all those years in the early Emirates era we were never able to close out games and it consistently cost us points. However last year we were able to win ugly on a consistent basis and I really thought we had figured it out. It does not matter if you are switched off nearly the entire game but you have to switch on long enough to finish out games when you have the lead.

    I have always been a huge fan of the BFG but this year he has not been good. He said early in the season that its was hard for him to get motivated after the World Cup but that is a lazy excuse. I don’t buy the excuse that he just needs a rest. If that is the case then we are in for a long rest of this season. Very few top CB’s get a rest other then injuries and nearly every good CB on the globe was at the world cup. Hopefully this is just a short run of bad form and the end of his useful career.

  41. SV says:

    @C

    It’s an interesting angle wiith Arsene and Arseta publicly contradicting Mert. Usually such things are done in the dressing room, and discussing them in public can only create disharmony in the team.

    Also, below par performances are offen down to players not giving 100% for each other. May be it is the case with us, because sometimes it’s just inexplicable.

    In terms of giving players a rest, the QPR game would be an appropriate game to rotate 2 or 3 players. But I think Arsene feels to much pressure, which makes “rotation” a forbidden word in his lexicon. Arsene is in a self inflicted circle of injuries, bad results, pressure on the manager, overplayed players and more injuries.

  42. Bill says:

    Sorry for the mistake in the last sentence of my comment at 2:35. I forgot the word “not”. That really changes the meaning. It should read:

    Hopefully he can refocus and this is just a run of bad form and not the end of his useful career.

  43. andy1886 says:

    C / SV: I think the point is that Arsene like to work with the idea of ‘collective responsibility’. So it’s a no blame culture at Arsenal, where no-one is held to account for individual errors. Have you ever noticed that Arsene always refers to ‘we’ or the team? Do you think that Adams or Keown would have stood for that? Not a chance, if someone was underperforming they would let him know in no uncertain terms. Conveniently enough it allows Arsene to hide behind the collective rather than take personal responsibility when it’s appropriate for him to do so.

  44. C says:

    @SV

    Yea I am never a fan of a team leader telling player that they need to work harder in training especially given how shit we were in the beginning of the campaign and then other players and the Manager saying they are working hard enough.

    I would LOVE to see players rotated, the problem that we currently face against QPR is we simply don’t have the players fit to rotate. OK so maybe Campbell and Podolski(they should have been rotated by I digress), but in midfield unless Mozart is deemed fit, we could have a problem if Ox is out or rested as he should be. Defenders wise, who do we rotate, I would start Nacho over Gibbs(Nacho for me all season should have been 1st choice LB), Bellerin at RB but Mert has to start unless we are to see one of the youngsters or either Chambers and Debuchy as the CB pairing.

  45. C says:

    @andy

    That could be it, I just find it weird how much of a leader and more importantly vocal leader and holding players accountable Mert was last season and how he seems to not be able to.

  46. Bill says:

    C

    Last year the BFG was arguably one of our most valuable players. However, this year he would not have much credibility as a vocal leader or calling someone out when he has been one of the serial offenders.

  47. C says:

    @Bill

    I get that and he himself has admitted he isn’t playing well. The problem is, whether its needing rest, or whatever, he is playing through it. I thought he actually played well as the game grew on outside of his ducking down(which as Yogi points out, there were all sorts of problems there from various players).

  48. SV says:

    Call me a sceptic, but I think with a minute to go and a corner to defend in a hostile atmosphere of an important away game, the “collective responsibility” does not work. Someone had to tell the younger players to stick to their tasks, concentrate and see it off.

    The last season’s Per may have done it. This season, someone told him to shut up.

  49. Bill says:

    C

    I think Mert has last the focus that he had last season. He blamed the world cup but that is a lame excuse. He hardly played any minutes and almost every top player in the world was in Brazil. Runs of bad form are very common in attacking players but much less common in defenders. Hopefully he can get his focus back.

    As far as needing a rest, if that is really the problem then we are hosed because there is no way that we can rest him in any meaningful game. Besides, how often do you see CB’s rotated on a regular basis on any team unless they are injured. If it was a problem with cumulative work load from several years then every CB on every big team would have the same problem. IMO it seems a bit of a stretch to think that it would have made a difference if he had played 4-5 fewer games over the last couple of seasons. Again, I think that he has fallen prey to the same thing that has happened to the rest of the squad and we have lost the defensive focus we had last year. I am willing to bet a lot of money that if it comes down to a point where 4th place is really in trouble, then the heavy legs and the weary minds will vanish.

  50. C says:

    @Bill

    That’s an interesting perspective. I think a big part of CB’s though is having trust and faith in your partner and having that understanding while also not trying to over-compensate for the lack of shielding. Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t been very Mert-esque but lets not also forget that he has played with Nacho and Debuchy, 2 players that have never played CB before and then playing with Chambers who is a young lad that is learning his craft.

  51. SV says:

    @Bill
    >>> I am willing to bet a lot of money that if it comes down to a point where 4th place is really in trouble, then the heavy legs and the weary minds will vanish.

    I think it has been clear after the ManU defeat at the latest that the top 4 is trouble.

    Yesterday we had a chance to send down a top four rival, but the omnipresent heavy legs and weary minds decided to waste it.

    Together with you, I’ll be waiting for the legendary top four run to start at some point and crash everything in front of us. However, with the away games at ManCity, ManU, the Tots, the certain home defeat vs. Chelsea and possibly a longer than usual CL campaign, the run may be weaker or not matherialize at all this season. Which will cause Arsene to decide that winning the CL is our only chance of playing in it next season, and w’ll finish 6-th in the EPL and get destroyed by Madrid in the CL semis.

  52. Bill says:

    C

    The fact that we have had a makeshift defense is even more reason why we needed Mert to come up big this season. Giving himself permission to play poorly because of the World Cup and having different CB partners is part of the negative culture that has developed in this club. Mert rightfully should have more responsibility then almost anyone else on the team and if it’s not him who organizes the defense and leads by example then who is it going to be?

  53. Bill says:

    SV

    logic argues that if you play with fire long enough you will eventually get burned and perhaps this will be the year. The final answer will come next May, but I think you would be very foolish to bet that we will finish outside of the top 4.

  54. SV says:

    @Bill
    Yes, we are still far above Southampton, the Tots and Liverpool, below ManU though at Paddy.

  55. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Mert was one of our better players last season but it’s clear he’s struggling right now.

    The fact we cannot rotate (tough when you only have two recognised centre backs) takes us back to you know who.

    For someone who once had a reputation for attention to detail , albeit a long time ago , I find the game of chance he’s played this season quite alarming – but in keeping with an arrogant know it all attitude which now seems to pervade every press conference or interview.

  56. nicky says:

    @consolsbob,
    Re your 12.49, a perfect Christmas present to yourself has got to be a hip flask. 😉

  57. Bill says:

    Inconsistency has been a hallmark of Arsene’s team during the entire Emirates Era and there has not been a season since 2005 where we have not gone through a significant run of tepid form. This season is just more of the same. Despite our form we are still only 4 points out of 4th with 22 games to play and the only teams we have to climb over are West Ham and Southampton.

  58. Bill says:

    The only thing different about this season is the level of expectation was raised by spending a significant portion of last season on top of the table and the FA cup.

  59. wilberforce says:

    It’s the same old story of AW not getting the team set up right and fired up for a game. We all know that Liverpool were going to explode out of the blocks and press the midfield.

    The other big issue for me is a lack of squad rotation which leads to player burn out and injuries piling up. Our injury record is so so terrible and I don’t think the manager trusts enough of the players he signed, maybe he trusts only 15-16 of his fully fit squad and its debatable if he even knows their best positions.

    The best thing for Arsenal is to finish out of the top 4 to bring us to reality and face up to fact that we are no longer moving forward under the leadership of Wenger. We desperately need a change of direction, it’s becoming ll too predictable and boring and Wenger’s denial is making him look a fool, what a shame.

  60. consolsbob says:

    Thank you Nicky.

    I have one. Best not used while driving across the Moors though.

    Been to the pub now and wine open so pretty good.

    Just as well as I am chef for making pizzas for seven this evening.

    Better than watching the chavs anyday.

  61. C says:

    @Bob

    Stuck in your office drinking eggnog mixed with bourbon provided by my supervisor or watching the Chavs?

  62. SV says:

    (Correct me if I’m wrong…)

    I think 27 points after 17 games is the lowest points tally in the post Highbury era, also matched in 2012-2013 though, the year you know who left to make a retirement present from Arsene to the Red Nose.

    In termes of the league position, we were as low as 7th in 2005-2006 after 17 games, which is lower than the current 6th. 2005-2006 was the first post-Invinsibles season.

    All in all, the position is not extraordinarry bad, but compared to other seasons bad nonetheless.

    The question is, what are the exceptional circumstances this season that cause this inconsistency? Answers on the portcard please.

  63. C says:

    @SV

    Be ready for a lot of “Its the injuries”

  64. C says:

    Reports in Argentina say that Arsenal have mad a substantial bid of 40M for the young striker Paulo Dybala from Palermo.

  65. Pistolfish says:

    Give me some of what you smoking C !

  66. Pistolfish says:

    Pretty shitty times to be a Arsenal supporter. I didn’t watch yesterday but was not at all surprised at the out come.
    I will never stop supporting the men on the pitch but its gotten to the point where I cant even see Wenger on the telly without my blood pressure going up, so I just stay away now days.
    Besides Im on vacation in the spectacular land that is New Zealand and Id rather be out fishing or diving than watching us at the moment.

  67. C says:

    @Pistol

    I can hook you up, you may need some to deal with 2.5 more years of Arsene 😉

  68. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Evening Jonny,

    If you can`t hold onto the ball you`re going to struggle to hold onto the lead. Our ball retention was woeful yesterday , being pressed or not.

    I`ve mentioned the pitch at the Emirates before as I think it can contribute to some injuries suffered. Ankle rolls seem to happen all too easily (Debuchy , Shaw & Cork already this season) but really our injury hoodoo is a combination of bad practice & bad luck. And Arsene of course.

  69. Jonny says:

    Agreed Yogi.

    Fookin Fabregas – I understand why we didn’t sign him (there are an unbelievable amount of the number of revisionists regarding this), but it looks increasingly like a regrettable decision.

    Having a hell of a season…

  70. Bill says:

    Part of the problem is that any team that has Diaby, Sanogo, Walcott, Arteta, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Rosicky in the squad is going to be near the top of the injury table irregardless of anything else.

  71. SV says:

    @Jonny

    Fabregas is properly managed, and his new team is playing to his strengths. I’m not sure this would be the case at Arsenal, although not allowing him to go to Chelsea would have its own value. Many clubs do that, e.g. buying potentially important players to weaken the opposition.

    Interestingly, Fabregas used to be an injury prone player in his last Arsenal years. This was even used as a justification to sell him. Now, he is older, but fit. If needed, he will not be allowed to go to the iternationals. Compare this with Theo being not match fit, but going to the England camp and getting a setback.

    I think we are just a badly run club. It’s sad.

  72. Bill says:

    i did not think we should sign Fabregas unless we sold a couple of our other “creative midfielders”. In retrospect that was certainly a bad call

  73. Limestonegunner says:

    We’re in a funk as a club, which is so strange after the FA Cup.

    Sure the injuries are killing us–but why do we get so many and why isn’t the squad better composed and prepared for our historic injury problems?!? And injuries or no, how do we play so poorly as a group with so many fatal errors even with decent players? I am being numbed by Arsenal. It doesn’t feel good.

  74. SV says:

    What would happen with our injury prone players elsewhere?

    Theo would bulk up and, while losing some of his speed, would stay as fit as a fiddle.

    Jack would learn to get rid of the ball faster to protect his ankles.

    Ramsey would rotate more.

    And Diaby would go to France and start a successful career as a pundit.

  75. santori says:

    Had we signed Fabregas, he would have been injured…given our arseluck

    The thing about the game against Liverpool was we failed to adjust to their tactical set up until the second half. When we did, we reaped reward but then did not take advantage of the extra man as we decided to erroneously protect the lead by sitting deep.

    The key issue was the midfield set up.

    As Phil Neville lucidly put it, Flamini was left out in the cold like a wind shield wiper tryiing to cover Voutinho and/or Llalana dropping behind him on either flank.

    With Liverpool arrayed with 2 in coutinho and Llanana pressing Flamini and our own set of Ox and Santi trying to press high against Lucas and Gerard, we were leaving gaps. Flamini (rightly) was hesitant in moving forward to join the pressing higher up as both Metersecker and Debuchy were uncomfortable coming out too far for fear of Sterling’s pace.

    Worse, their wing backs were having a field day, particularly Markovic against Chambers.

    We needed to adjust by dropping one midfielder deeper in support of Flamini. Also I thought our right flank completely non existent. In some respects, deploying Bellerin just in front of Chambers would have assured some cover for Chambers and provided us with pace against their back 3 by using our flank better.

    I thought one of Giroud or Welbeck could have been sacrificed. Good goal by Giroud but in truth, apart from stamping on Skrtel (and gaining 9 minutes of unwanted extra time), he did not do much.

    For the last goal, the defending was appalling with two minutes to go. Many seem want to castigate either Debuchy or Metersecker for the goal when the fault was clearly Chambers who was closest to Skrtel. This is NOT the first goal Chambers is culpable of letting in from a cross which suggest that Cback is NOT his natural position.

    I don’t say this to put pressure on a young player who in any case gets a generous benefit of the doubt by the press because of his nationality, rather to draw attention to the inane bias of certain quarters. Had he been Flamini, there would be the usual moan for a competent and combative DM.

    The other question to ask would be of course why were we even in the position of defending this corner?

    I think Wenger was to some extent correct to reinforce Flamni with Coquelin and Monreal on either side to protect the lead (as mentioned, I would have risked Bellerin on right)

    However sometimes (and in this case with us inviting disaster dropping so deep throughout the game), the best answer is to reverse the danger and in bring it to Liverpool’s end. In this case, I was a bit perplexed what function Wenger had for Campbell. Iw ould assume his instructions to the Costa Rican were to press high and be a nuisance in concert with Welbeck but neither fulfilled this particularly convincingly and both dropped too deep to offer us any threat or outlet which would have made the Scouse think twice coming too far forward toward the end of the game.

    Would a more lethal Podolski had been a better option? I certainly felt so given his experience over the Costa Rican at the moment (much as I’d like to see Joel get minutes)

    In the end, we were lucky to come off with a draw. However Liverpool are in 10th and we are still in a good position to push into the top 4. The next batch of games will be crucial with game congestion an issue.

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