Huff And Puff But No Reward: Average Arsenal Fire Blanks

smArsenal 0 – 0 Liverpool

A season of great promise? Reality, as ever, is not living up to the hype. Pre-season was filled with title predictions, calls to arms and the clattering of hooves as the cavalary charge was set to begin. It’s turning into the Charge of the Light Brigade, an unrewarding exercise in futility. Arsène thinks the start to the season has been average; he left out the word ‘distinctly’ to add in a hint of disdain. Four points out of nine, one less than at the same stage of last season, a start which was deemed to be the club’s worst since records began.

Arsenal are infuriatingly inconsistent and showing little sign of finding any consistency of performance. Aaron Ramsey had a perfectly good goal disallowed, ultimately the cause of two dropped points. That Petr Cech saved a point cannot be overlooked; the Czech was astounding, producing a string of saves to keep his side in contention. When he couldn’t do it all on his own, the woodwork proved to be his saviour as Liverpool sought to capitalise on an extraordinarily nervous and disjointed defensive performance. Sometimes the pair combined to be Arsenal’s defensive wall.

At the centre of this maelstrom was Calum Chambers. Parachuted into the side by Per Mertesacker’s illness, his lack of match sharpness was evident in distribution which made you question if he had ever passed a football in his life. It was a horrendous first half but one which he ‘played’ himself out of, improving as the match progressed. Arsène admitted that he was “tempted” to hook his young centre back but needed an attacking presence for the second half which proved as contrary as the first.

Fortunately, Gabriel put forward a case for regular inclusion in the starting XI. The Brazilian frequently covered for the impetuosity of Chambers youth, positioning himself to make more than one timely intervention. Aided and abetted by Coquelin, the pair were tigerish in the resolution as Liverpool sliced through in a first half where they will wonder how they didn’t breakthrough.

Coutinho proved to be a constant thorn in Arsenal’s side, exploiting the callowness in the right side of the defence, rattling the woodwork inside three minutes, repeating the trick later in an impressive forty-five minutes. And when Cech tired of denying the Brazilian, he exasperated Christian Benteke with saves which in our heart of hearts, we know Ospina or Szczesny wouldn’t have made. Or probably wouldn’t, if you prefer to be optimistic.

Arsenal weren’t on the back foot during the first half so much as their backsides, contributing in no short measure to their own problems. In the second, they had lept to their feet and surged toward the visitors’ goal, invoking as much panic and discomfort in the Liverpool back four as had been evident in their own during the opening forty-five minutes.

Calls for Giroud to be confirmed as Arsenal’s first choice striker were hardly enhanced by his performance. Starved of meaningful service, he was unable to influence proceedings in the first half and in the second, beyond forcing Mignolet into action as the pressure grew, he was left appealing forlornly for penalties which were never going to be awarded. We’re told to marvel at his statistics for last season but the tellingly, his goal at Selhurst Park is the only time he has found the net in the Premier League in ten games; it’s not going to make the difference in the way Alan Smith did, for example, in 1988-89 or 1990-91.

He was far from the only culprit in that sense. Pretty passing patterns wove through the wings but all too often the final delivery lacked forethought, epitomised with crosses into the penalty area when Theo Walcott is the central striker. All too often, crosses were intercepted or clutched by Mignolet without pressure applied. Wenger knows the issues,

The sharpness is missing a little bit in some players. I would like to give credit to Liverpool as well. They defended well, they were quick to close us down and we had problems getting out of position. With the domination we had in the second half, as long as you don’t score the first goal, the team doesn’t come out. We had the chances but we are still missing a little bit of a spontaneous attitude to finish what we start well.

It’s a result which leaves Arsenal trailing Manchester City by five points already, a gap which we know from last year can quickly explode into double figures. The lack of goals may be resolved eventually but the concern, the nagging doubt is that it might already be too late by that point. Arsenal aren’t playing well, know it but don’t as of yet have the answers.

They aren’t easy to find either. How Arsène must be wishing he could enjoy the luck Liverpool have, taking four points from nine thanks to the largesse of match officials. Swings and roundabouts? We’ve lept from an ascendent swing, landed on the roundabout only to spin off at 100mph, landing flat on our Arsenal’s.

All in all, a deeply disappointing night and whilst there are some genuine positives to take from the performance, the concerns far outweigh them.

’til Tomorrow.

209 thoughts on “Huff And Puff But No Reward: Average Arsenal Fire Blanks

  1. I agree Silver. It would be ideal if Rambo-Coq partnership could work. Rambo provides more goal threat than Santi and it would allow is to play Theo or Ox on the right, which also increases our scoring and finishing ability. The other possibility is moving Sanchez more centrally as a 10.

  2. I read elsewhere that in the five home games out of the last six where we haven’t scored we have had 103 shots. If true that’s incredible, and demonstrates just how much we miss a clinical finisher.

  3. Through similar spells in recent years it’s the paucity of ideas which alarms me.

    Ramsey’s goal should have stood (more on that later) and I believe Ramsey is a great player. With his engine, positional sense and great tackling he would be perfectly suited to partner Coquelin in deep midfield – if he maintained positional discipline.

    However, playing him on the wing, destabilizes the entire team.

    It starts before a ball is kicked. Both Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain are displaced, left on the bench. Bellerin receives no cover because Ramsey has been given carte blanche to roam, he hangs back and is less the attacking threat ( stats were right side attacks 25% left side and centre 75% against Liverpool).

    As Liverpool (any opposition) know Arsenal’s attack will come from the left wing or center, so they focus their defense and nullify Sanchez and Monreal. Ramsey then imposes himself on Ozil with his average position (stat not opinion) at No 10 whilst Ozil’s average position was shunted out to the left of center.

    So back to the disallowed Ramsey goal – looked at from another perspective, it remains problematic. When Cazorla passed the ball through defense on the left, surely the player who should have received the pass was Sanchez?

    How is this going to sit with Sanchez who carried the team through months last season, now Ramsey is encouraged to encroach into his territory making plays as though Sanchez is not fit for purpose or up to the task? After all the pressure Giroud has faced, how does he feel now Aaron Benzema is in the box for every attack?

    The issue as far as I can see is Wenger is without ideas. This was how last season commenced and this season seems to be following the same path with the exception that Ramsey is now encouraged to play where he wants as our only tactic.

  4. Mr Wenger was flattered by the preseason result, that made him think he doesn’t need a quality striker. Now the stage is set, Mr Wenger can now tell the difference between the EPL and the preseason. Or do we say that he no longer has the hunger for trophies any more.One is being left confused by the way mr Wenger is handling issues of transfer these days. The Wenger that brought Dennis Bergkamp, Anelka, Henry, Vieira, and Kanu is much different from the present Wenger. Mr Wenger please if you do not want to Bring in another striker, bring in Theo to that central striking role and keep faith in him as you did to Oliver and see the difference for nobody does the same thing over and over again and espect a different thing.

  5. I thought Wenger had learned something and ready to move to another level have won 2 FA’s successfully but it seems it was a rich vein of lucky that on both occassions we played the finals by mediocre or average teams and eventually won. Coquelin the DM we now have was on a verge of leaving the club for free. He put up few good performances and wenger all of the sudden problem solved. Morgan Schnerderlin a fellow Frenchman was left to go to United under Wengers nose. There is no way we can dream about the title with such a mediocre midfield. Wenger must be convincing himself alone i think otherwise the gaps are glarling and we cant compete with the two United’s or even Chelsea

  6. am beginning to get fustrated with these,i dont understand it anymore. is it that the team cant get it right or that prof. arsene wenger is confused about the players to use or to buy,or we are not ripe enough or not good enough to challenge for the EPL/Uefa Champion’s League Titles. CANT WE JUST MAKE A CONCRETE DECISION FOR ONCE ASIDE THE FA CUP,CANT WE? HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  7. its not about replacing wenger,its about getting the right altitude/attitude & the right ingredient/s in the team & the right mindset to make it work. any player whose refusing to play according to/stick to rules should be booted & willing players should be allowed access into the team. period

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