Rennes 3 – 1 Arsenal
Matteo Gunedouzi found football’s ability to make a player eat his words is as strong as ever. Twenty-four hours after he proclaimed he played with his heart and gave 150%, he failed to make an effort in tracking back and we find ourselves with a two-goal deficit to overhaul.
Hatem Ben Arfa’s admission he laughed at Unai Emery may yet come back to haunt him.
But almost everyone’s eyes are on Unai Emery. Arsenal came up short in the most familiar of situations: reduced to ten men. I’m not sure there is too much argument to be had with Sokratis’ dimissal. The first was definitely a booking and the second? Well, that’s the sort of booking you get when you’ve been niggling at everyone. It’s as if there was some sort of totting up process going on.
It proved to be a double blow. Bourigeaud delivered an exceptionally poor free-kick which hit the wall. He then produced an exceptional strike from the rebound. It’s safe to say, he won’t strike the ball as well again. Of course he won’t; he’s only got next week’s return leg fixture to face Arsenal once more.
No other club is as generous in permitting such opportunities; you remember how every opposing goalkeeper seemed to have the ‘game of their career’ when they faced us? Well, that goal was the outfield player’s equivalent.
Flippancy replaced last night’s…well, despair is too strong a word; far too strong. The difference in performance levels from Saturday to yesterday is as staggering as it is familiar. There’s nothing new about the manner of our defeat from any other over the past five years. Nor is the lack of consistency from essentially the same group of players.
It’s very much the Arsenal Way.
No Relief Provided By These Renn(i)es.
All this from a winning position. Alex Iwobi epitomised the difference between last weekend and last night; a lucky strike when his cross wheeled its way into the net – you’ve got to be in it to win it – but that was the sum total of his contribution. He was hooked because he performed badly; no ifs, buts or maybes.
None of the substituted can have any qualms about being replaced; they were all terrible.
Unai Emery felt we controlled the game before the red card. “Controlled” is too strong a word; Rennes had found spaces before then and Sokratis tackles came about because we didn’t form a strong enough defensive barrier.
He’s confident, however, that we will turn the tie around next week
Weneed to also change our performance and I have the confidence with our players, with our supporters helping us to create one big atmosphere to give us a good spirit against them to comeback.
Last night is over and done with. All attention is focused on Sunday’s game. It seems we didn’t pick up any further injuries so must just contend with Lucas Torreira’s injury. The situation requires Aaron Ramsey to drop back into the central midfield role with Guendouzi pulled out of the limelight. Mesut Ozil comes in to occupy the attacking position Ramsey filled against Tottenham.
Before this defeat, the question was about United and whether the Champions League would distract them, either through a lack of concentration or effort. Now, it’s us who are deservedly under scrutiny. Can Arsenal lift themselves once again for the Premier League to the same degree they did against Tottenham?
It’s a big ask and one for which we will find out answer soon enough. Whether we’ll like it is another matter.