Back to Earth after Saints’ Spanking

Saints v Arsenal Afterthoughts

No eight positives from me today fine fellow Gooners. Instead a bit of perspective and an an attempt to take this one on the chin and swiftly move on.

Let’s face it, this was a disappointing result that puts our feet firmly back on the ground. And the latter is the positive we can take out of this game. We all know that Arsenal are often at their weakest after a big win, but we appeared to have overcome such frailties this season. It did not help that we had to play away on Boxing Day – there was only one away win, and six home wins in today’s PL games – against a team hungry for a win but not expected to beat us. A more clever person than me could put all of this in some sort of formula: high Arsenal confidence   after what looked like a season defining win last Monday versus playing an out of form team away that is hungry for a win but the supporters have low expectations = higher chance for us of to get beat.

Usually, our answer to these sort of challenges is playing at a high tempo from the start and not allow the home team to gain confidence and momentum. Alternatively, we absorb pressure for twenty minutes or so, and then start turning the screw on the opponent, slowly getting into our game and then pounce a couple of times in short succession.

I reckon the latter is what we tried to do today and we looked pretty much okay until Martina scored one of those goals we have all dreamed of a few times in our lives. It was a cracking goal that broke the deadlock but it was exactly what we did not want to happen. Koeman knows how to set up his team defensively and now we had to come out and take risks at the back. This is a dangerous approach against a team with willing, speedy runners and a pretty solid central midfield. And we lost the battle in midfield due to lack of energy, cohesion and invention. On top of that our wings were well blocked off, and we lacked our usual penetration from there. Yes the referee was a bit too lenient towards the overly physical approach by the Saints, but Wanyama and co were on top of their game and our midfielders were not.

The next goal would be decisive and it went deservedly to the home side, and after that it went only further downhill. The second goal gave the Saints wings and we didn’t looked like we were capable of turning the game round. Wenger’s options from the bench were extremely limited, with only inexperienced or low on confidence attacking options available. How different would it have been if we could have put Alexis, Wilshere, Welbeck, Coquelin or Rosicky on the pitch in the second half?

This is of course no real excuse for the lack of energy and leadership we displayed last night, and Wenger will need to use this game to refocus the mental side of the team. On the other hand, we should not stand still too long at this loss and see it as just one game of many in a busy period. Our next two games are winnable home games and real champions-to-be treat a loss like this as a bad day at the office and move on swiftly.

With our feet back on the ground and our pride hurt, the Gunners will be well up for the visit of giant killers Bournemouth.

By TotalArsenal.

 

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18 Responses to Back to Earth after Saints’ Spanking

  1. afc says:

    Mate we have got to stop this madness. Stop believing all the hype you read in the papers and from the players. Arsenal ain’t winning the league. League champions don’t get beat 4 nil to a pub side. I don’t care what you say Southampton are bang average. Arsenal don’t look anything like champions. Our first team atm is pretty average flamini, Joel Campbell, mertersacker the list goes on. How anybody thinks this team will win the league is just crazy. Arsenal are desperately in need of change manager and board.

  2. allezkev says:

    Did not Man City lose recently, at home, to Liverpool by 4-1..?

    It’s just one of those seasons when anything can happen.
    Keeps things interesting and unpredictable.

    A good post Total, keeping things in perspective as usual…

  3. Pony Eye says:

    TA,

    It’s so difficult to use the word nice on anything connected, even remotely, with last night’s match but that’s what your post is. Somehow you were able to show that it was a debacle without having to crack the whip. Just a bad day in the office, eh,…..emm…..emmmmm…..

    One thing the match told us very clearly, is that there is an injury crises. I won’t tell you a lie, I missed the fighting spirit of le Coq, the brain of Santi the Team, the indomitable spirit and energy of Alexis, the maestro of the nearly forgotten Wilshere. Who knows but yesterday might even have been Welbeck’s day. Oh, the stuff of dreams!

    The eleven players were excellent against Man C. The same eleven players a few days latter, to the last man, were awful against Southampton. Which of the two is that team? Imo, that team belongs somewhere in between.

    The big question is, whether that in-between-team can hold the fort until reinforcement arrives from the Treatment Table Regiment of Special Forces. Can-we-hold-the-fort-?-?-?

    To be able to hang on, we must deal early in the January window. Inescapable it is.

  4. Ab says:

    hi there TA. Agreed, that was just a bad day and if we move on and win the next 2 we will be in a good place. I am disturbed though by the manner in which we basically fell apart and showed no kind of effective response. Other teams will try to replicate the Saints approach – though they will be doing well to find another of those opening goals. I am sure we will come out strong on Monday; but we will need to have rotated a bit as well, and our options here are a bit limited at present.

    I’m still not expecting any cavalry to appear over the hill in January. The £5m signing from Switzerland seems a plausible purchase – £30m for a proven international DM, I think not. But wtfdik. I’m hoping we may see some post-injury returns before too long though.

    2 home wins and I’d say I’m pretty content with the holiday period. We are yet to get them though, so counting no chicken here. And the familiar doubts about our resilience under pressure have been reopened after last night. Wenger, Cech and co will be counselling calm and patience, combined with concentration on the pitch; hope the young lads are listening well.

  5. Ab says:

    Just read afc comments above. Come on fella – this team beat manure, city and bayern recently. Amazing given we have nothing but rubbish players and a rubbish manager….. Are we as consistent as we need to be – not yet. Do we have a full strength squad to deploy – also not yet. Would I rather we had a Van Gaal or Maureen in charge – hahahahaahahahahaha!

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    Kev, I reckon we struggle with away evening games for some reason. It was a bad game, but win the next two and we are rocking again. I never expected more than a draw and yes this year the league can do everything to any team.

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    PE, beautifully put as always. We were unable to overcome adversity and that is something to look at, but this is a great team that needs more options from the bench. We will hold out till January 😃

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    All agreed AB 🙂

    My heart wanted us to fight more to get at least a point, but, after the 2-0, the brain said take this one on the chin and don’t get any injuries. It was the sort of game that needed crunching tackles to break them open in midfield but that would have come at cost that we could not afford… Something the first poster would never understand, I reckon. 😕

  9. FLO8 says:

    Good post TA!

    Full credit should go to Southampton. They were more enthusiastic and willing to work harder than us off the ball. That combined with our decision to adopted a patient build up style of play suited their counter attacking approach perfectly.

    Pre match I was hoping Arsene would rotate a bit and give the likes Ox (in place of Giroud with Walcott moving into the centre forward role), Gibbs (in place of Monreal), Debuchy (in place of Bellerin) and Chambers (in place of Mertersacker) a run in light of the players exertions versus Man City. But a familiar reliance on the same 11 players resulted in a familiar flat and lethargic performance. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again a lack of structured and systematic squad rotation has and continues to undermine Arsenal’s ability to mount a sustained title push. I’m super happy Arsene has started instructing the players to adopt a more pragmatic approach when we play the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd. That has obviously improved our recent results against those sides. But those improved results are only beneficial on a title winning scale if we can also beat the likes of West Ham, West Brom, Norwich and Southampton. That’s not happening and I believe a lack of structured and systematic squad rotation resulting in lethargic performances is the core issue. I know people will point to all our injuries at the moment and say we can’t rotate because our squad is decimated, but that’s simply not true. Just look at the depth when you discount those players who are currently unavailable. There is still enough depth to rotate in order to maintain energy and performance levels:

    GK: Cech; Ospina
    RB: Bellerin; Debuchy
    CB: Mertersacker; Chambers
    CB: Koscielny; Gabriel
    LB: Monreal; Gibbs
    CDM: Flamini; Chambers; Kamara
    CM: Ramsey; Ox; Flamini; Crowley
    RW: Campbell; Ramsey; Iwobi; Jeff
    CAM: Ozil; Ramsey; Ox; Crowley
    LW: Walcott; Ramsey; Ox; Campbell; Iwobi; Jeff; Crowley
    CF: Giroud; Walcott; Campbell

    It gets a bit frustrating to watch the same mistakes be repeated over and over again but it certainly does helps set expectation level!! 😄

    Anyhow a special mention must go to Wanyama and Koscielny. Wanyama dominated Ozil and was a defensive beast completing 6 tackles in the match. Whilst Long got the goals, I think much of Southampton’s victory can be attributed to Wanyama and Classie’s excellent defensive performance at the base of Southampton’s midfield and Steven Davis’ likewise performance on the left (he effectively nullified Bellerin’s offensive threat). On our side the only real shining light was Koscielny who backed up his excellent 7 interception match versus Man City with 6 interceptions and three tackles versus Southampton. Great defensive display by both players.

  10. Admir says:

    Hello, people!

    TA, you nailed it with this one. Everything you wrote is correct…

    …bar one thing you didn’t.

    The referee was a real douche who had fingers in their first three goals. Both linesmen, actually, were at fault for not doing their job according to the rules. It’s impossible to beat a team that has quality and an extra hand from the refs.

    That being said, I really, really hope we will go for Wanyama and get him in January. He is that sort of a player we could use against Barcelona (he has already done them with Celtic) but also against teams like City and Bayern away from home.

  11. Alex says:

    Guys, i simply don’t agree with you about Wanyama… He often unfairly blocked Mesut with the acceptance of the referee! At least two obstructions in the first half. I wonder if this would have been allowed by another referee… In the second half, he couldn’t stop Mesut’s passes and magic.

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Freddie 🙂

    I really don’t think we have the right players available to rotate at the moment. Surely we want to start a game with the potential to win it?

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    Thanks Admir,

    Agreed on Wanyama, but only if we can get him for a decent price. The good thing is he would rotate well with Le Coq once the Frenchman is fit again and we can let the Flame go this summer. Will it happen? Very unlikely, imo.

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Welcome Alex 🙂

    I don’t think it was Ozil who disappointed but both Flamini and Ramsey did not win the midfield for us yesterday.

  15. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi fellas…I don’t have a ton (tonne?) to add here, TA wrote a good one and I said my piece(s) during the match. The best thing is that we have a chance to put this one behind us in just over 24 hours… In fact, I’ve gotta try to write a preview for that one…

    The comments here are interesting. The first guy, the lowercase afc (not our long lost buddy, AFC, I wouldn’t guess…) needs a lesson on replacing managers and boards. Indeed, one new manager, Ranieri has his team above us in the table…All the other teams who are switching them like it’s a bodily function (Chavs and Pool, already, Both Mancs soon enough) look up to us…in oh so many ways. We’ll see if we get that response the manager is counting upon tomorrow. If not, the ‘Wenger Out’ case will get even more shouts…

    FLO8, I’m with TA here, rotation is all fine and good–and in hindsight–would have definitely been the answer, you know, if you’re gonna lose the points, at least give some players some minutes, makes sense but only when staring at the (horrific) scoreline. It’s great you believe in all the players but I’m not quite so sure. The Ox has been nothing short of a disaster this season (The Community Shield, unfortunately is a pre-season event…) and some are finding fault with him on the set-piece goal. Iwobi can dribble but that’s about it, from what I’ve seen. We need to rotate more, I agree, but there needs to be the requisite quality in there to try and get the win. I hate to say it, but the impending arrival of the Egyptian fellow does not bode well for the Ox… And he sounds like he’ll provide good cover for Santi and Jack (and Rosicky and Arteta if either ever play again…) while possibly being able to spell Ramsey and Ozil in spots.

    One of those might be in FA Cup games….My hope is that we can make an honest effort towards a 3rd one AND do our very best in the CL with him plus that handful of extra bodies as they become available in the 2nd half of the season. Still, in general, we have to put out a team capable of beating the competition in every league match. So’ton, as bad as their form was, will not allow us to play with too many passenger types…

    TA, Admir and Alex (welcome) have it most spot on. So’ton were more prepared for a physical battle and the ref allowed one. Jon Moss was the guy who oversaw our own 4-nil demolition of Aston Villa in last season’s FA Cup final and maybe he wants to be seen both as not too easy on the Arsenal and one of those who “let ’em play,” which is probably the major branding slogan of the PL… Wanyama as the (30-50-100 million pound) answer here in January? That’s just a stick (for the quiver…) to beat on AW, isn’t it?…

    Finally, that was the first match where we haven’t scored the first goal since the draw with Spurs. Football is a pretty simple game and that first goal changes everything. We were struggling with our fluency, pace and basic touches before it went in, so it was hard to rally at that point. Arsenal aren’t built to shut up shop (esp. with Coquelin missing) so an occasional shameful scoreline is probably something we need to steel ourselves to, now and again… Thank dennis we have a(nother) bite at it…and it’s the Cherries, too… 😀

    Match preview coming soon, now that I’ve warmed up… More Smileys…

  16. Admir says:

    @17 – whilst I agree with TA that we are unlikely to get Wanyama in January, it’s been known to everyone as early as August that we need a Coquelin-esque addition because The Flame and The Art are below the standard required.

    Wenger’s late attempt with Chambers for Flamini was interesting though. Perhaps it’s a sign which area Arsene wants to strengthen in January.

  17. 17highburyterrace says:

    Admir… I tend to agree with new comment contributor, Alex, that Wanyama plays a little more physically than we would like. Against better teams with FK experts that can really bite you in the arse… Wanyama did look a real force in that match which made Rod Stewart cry (vs. Barca back in Dec. 2012) but wasn’t it a meaningless one for the opponent? He’s been less impressive with So’ton, I think, and they seem to miss Schneiderlin–on most days, at least… He’s a powerful figure, no doubt, and I know lots of folks are desperate for that sort of physical presence…

    Anyhow, it’s just a quibble…

    More grist for the mill…or at least more tortured metaphors in the…

    New Post

  18. Admir says:

    17 – some of us wanted Schneiderlin but were told that it’s not wise to spend so much money for a cover or a player that would bench Coquelin. Anyway, Schneiderlin’s ship has sailed and we can only get the second best DM from Soton 2014-15.

    That’s why I would like Guardiola to replace Arsene in 2017. He would bring sponsorship deals with him and wouldn’t hesitate to spend money on a Busquets-like player to control the midfield. Sadly, he’ll be dominating us with City next season. 😦

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