Yesterday’s game is a difficult one for me to pass comment on, given that I was unable to actually watch the action against Southampton, on account of having a rubbish computer that never streams properly. Oh, and being slap-bang in the middle of a shopping centre when the match kicked off, of course.
I did catch pieces of the game on the radio which, by the sounds of it, I tuned in at the right time having missed almost all of the first half. It sounds as if the Arsenal players did the same. Barely any shots registered in anger, some kamikaze defending (Monreal the key culprit by the sounds of it) and a sloppy goal conceded at the back post by Jose Fonte.
The team must have clearly have had a stern talking to for. The manager, ‘angry’ Steve and probably amongst themselves, because the post-halftime oranges did the trick and we were level within three minutes of the restart. Olivier Giroud with a neat finish after Sagna cut back to him inside the six yard box. Minutes later Santi put us ahead and, perhaps this is because we have been used to the team showing that they can close out matches, I thought that we would ‘kick on’ and notch another impressive away win.
But the game was not one that sounded like The Arsenal we have become accustomed to, because Lallana bought Southampton level minutes after that and the match turned into a slug fest. Özil hit the bar, Szczesny kept us in it, Flamini went mad and got himself sent off for a reckless two footed tackle. He does like those (always has throughout his career), does the Flamster, so I must admit I have been expecting him to get a red for a challenge like for some time. In modern football you simply can’t tackle with two feet and this one silly act will see us miss him for all of the big upcoming games. Right when we need him most. The thing is though, isn’t it his terrier and slightly crazy personality on the pitch that makes him what he is? So do we really want him to change into a shrinking violet?
Looking at this from the cold light of day, as well as the fact the we didn’t lose against a tough opponent, I can’t feel as despondent as some of the people that I watched mope their way across my Twitter timeline yesterday. You’re not going to go through the whole season winning eery game and every team experiences tough matches where they’re just not at the races. But the important thing for The Arsenal is that we respond on Sunday against Crystal Palace. If we pick up three points against The Eagles at the weekend then we still set ourselves up in a good position to go back top, because one of City or Chelski will drop points against each other.
There is a sense of disappointment that we’ve essentially wasted an entire half of football where, had we been at the races, we could have put ourselves in a good position to pick up all three points. It’s a worry that we just didn’t click and there have been a few warning signs of late that Arsene will be keen to iron out I’m sure.
One thing a number of people seem to be pointing out, which is the Flamini-Arteta base of our midfield doesn’t see to be working. I could see why Arsene went for it – especially if you’re playing a team that presses high from the front and you need outlets for your midfield to provide to the back four – but we definitely seem to miss a player that can travel with the ball or move it front to back quicker. Rosicky, Wilshere and Rambo all fit that category and so you have to wonder what difference it would have made if all three (or at least one) would have been fit. It sounds ominous that Ramsey had a ‘little setback’ as Arsene declared after the match, but the noises coming from the journos close to the Arsenal camp seem to suggest that it will only be a week or two extra he is out and not one of those six weeks jobs. We just have to wait and see on that one.
A quick note on Podolski, who got six minutes of injury time to make an impact, which is no time at all if we’re all completely honest with ourselves. As each match passes, it’s hard not to accept that there is something going on there. His impact for the last twenty minutes of a game has already been telling against West Ham, so why is he being ignored? Perhaps Arsene already has his replacement lined up, as last night he made a vague comment about us maybe surprising a few people over the next couple of days. As always, we seem to be leaving it to the last minute, which does make you wonder if Arsene has decided to emulate ‘Arry now that he’s not in the league. I hope he’s got something up his sleeve, because we’ve seen what a Reyes, Arshavin and Özil can do to the team.
That’s it from me I’m afraid. Like I said – I haven’t properly watched the game yet and so will have to save further thoughts for another time.