West Brom v Arsenal afterthoughts
Good afternoon Fine Fellow Gooners
Just back from a fine, long weekend in the serene Highlands of Scotland. Snow-peaked, ancient mountains, mirrored in enormous, still-as-a-mouse lakes, topped off by blue skies and decorated by autumn colours: and all that almost all to ourselves! 🙂
Until now, I was only able to watch the highlights but I did listen to intermittent radio commentary on Saturday afternoon. The radio commentator said that we went behind against the run of play, and looking at the highlights, we seemed a tat unlucky to not take anything from the game. Well hey, that is football! And we have been lucky enough until now to avoid this sort of outcome of a game in most cases.
I have said before that away games after an international break are hard to win. The combination of the horrific Paris terrorist attacks only eight days before the kick-off, which will have left especially our French players shaken, and the lack of time for Wenger to bring his team together and prepare them mentally for the Baggies’s challenge, may have been too much. Furthermore, the lack of quality options on the bench also did not help. But ultimately, we lacked composure, and luck was not on our side. Games and results like these we need to take on the chin and not overanalyse, even though it is so attractive to point to finger to one or more individuals and make yourself feel a little bit better.
The only person I am angry with, is, of course, Santi Cazorla; and I reckon Wenger will not quickly forget his lack of responsibility at a crucial moment in the game. I remember having a discussion with Retsub (where are you these days my friend?) re Santi taking a cheeky, chipped penalty against Norwich (if I remember rightly) a few seasons ago. We were winning the game comfortably by something like 3-0 and we were rewarded a spot-kick; Santi stepped up and tricked the keeper with a cheeky chip towards the middle of the goal. The keeper had already committed to a corner and could do nothing about this audacious penalty attempt. Both Retsub and I were a bit unhappy with the lack of respect this penalty attempt showed towards the goalkeeper and how it easily could have gone wrong… but it went in, so we could not complain too much.
When the team has been fighting soooo hard to get back into the game and we finally get a penalty awarded that could get us level, it really has to go in if we are serious about winning the league this time round. We have an experienced squad now with a large number of internationals who have handled far bigger pressures: whoever takes the penalty for Arsenal needs to be pretty sure he will convert it. Santi slipped so it was just a case of bad luck, some will say. But I reckon Cazorla was about to try one of his cheeky, nonchalant penalties again and it was his own stilted movement that made him slip; and this time he made an utter fool of himself. He even touched the ball twice, so the opposition were awarded a free-kick! Next time, Santi, take a normal penalty kick, or even better, ask Sanchez or Giroud to take it. Anybody can miss a penalty, but you have to at least make the goalkeeper work ffs!
The injury to Coquelin is very unfortunate, even though he could have been a little bit more careful perhaps. But in the end, Francis is a DM and it is about winning the physical and mental battles to get the upper hand, so I have no qualms with him getting injured like he did on Saturday… it is an occupational risk he has to be willing to take.
It is funny, we worry about the international players coming back with fatigue and therefore have increased risk of getting injured, but it is the fully rested players – Coquelin and Arteta – who get injured… We will have to see what Wenger will do to fill the void, as Coquelin has been our DM rock over the last few months. Surely, this is an opportunity for the Flame or even Chambers to (re)claim this crucial position….
Or maybe, this is an opportunity to move Nacho next to Cazorla in the double DM pivot? We need to play Gibbsy more, and I just feel that Monreal would make the DM role his: he is clever, quick, reads the game well, is hard but fair and his intelligence (and knowledge of the defenders behind him) could make him the best replacement for le Coq…
But luckily, Rambo is back and he could make a big difference for us again. Campbell did not do too badly but the Rambo-Vector-Hector combination on the right should give us a new wing to fly with. Bring on Zagreb and let’s move on from the West Brom game. The show must go on and Rambo is ready to lift the team! 🙂
Come on You Rip-Roaring Gunners!