Happiness is a warm, yes it ihihihiss, Gunner!
While for some, especially the lazy side of the media, this was about ‘the protest’, for many others we were playing a crucial game for staying in the top four and secure Champions League football once again.
I have nothing against fans protesting and demanding change as long as it is done appropriately. Doing it in our very own stadium and when we need to win is, in my opinion, not appropriate but at least it was done in a tasteful way. I am also aware that there are not many good opportunities to protest, so I understand why it was done yesterday, even though I don’t agree with it. The sense of a lack of progress and seeing patterns being repeated every season has made a lot of fans hungry for change. However, I never doubt Arsene’s and the players’ passion to win and give their all to win silverware, and as long as that is the case I will back them all.
Would I be adverse to a new manager for next season? NO, but I am just as happy to see Arsene try to get us the shiniest silverware once more. After four cups in two years this is a disappointing year, but let’s keep things in perspective…. we are still a very, very good team with tons of potential for improvement from within as well as cash to spend to add super quality. There is no need for despair.
The game was predictable as in Norwich parking the bus and us trying to find a way through with blood, sweat and tears. What is worrying is the number of chances we keep giving away even though we dominated possession and were in control of the game for large parts. Teams seem to counter easily against us and a bit of pressure on our defenders often leads to defensive mistakes and embarrassing moments in front of our goal. 69% possession only led to three shots on target (out of 14 shots) – the same as Norwich (from 12 shots). We won 1-0 but it could easily have been different, and that has been the story of our game since the start of the new year.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are struggling to break down the PTB teams due lack of cohesion within the attacking team. I cannot put my finger on the exact reasons for this. The lazy, one-dimensional supporters just want to point their fingers to Giroud. If only he was replaced by Aguero, we would be winning the league by ease, they keep telling me. For me it is more complicated than that. Ollie is definitely not himself at the moment, but he also is getting quite poor service by his fellow players. Furthermore, fellow attackers are not playing near enough to Ollie to benefit from his hard work to make space for, and connect with, them. He may be Wenger’s number one CF but some fellow attackers may see it differently; at this stage of the season, we should see a lot more joined-up attacking play between Alexis, Giroud, Rambo and Ozil but it looks like they are four talented individuals not conversing in the same footie language.
Welbeck’s arrival brought new energy to the team and his running hurt the tired Norwich defenders and midfielders a lot. But Danny was also keen to work with Ollie in setting things up and he was rewarded for this by a fine lay off from the Frenchman that led to the only goal of the game, worth a priceless three points. I reckon there is very little cohesion between Alexis and Giroud, and this seems a structural problem; and I would not be surprised to see Wenger start Welbeck and Giroud together in the last two games of the season, as this will give us the best attacking balance and potency.
Alexis, who had another game in which the quality of his passing and final ball is not matched with his enormous energy and willingness to come for the ball, did not have much impact on the game. I had lost count of the number of times he misplaced a pass, which clearly is not his strength, even though he never stops trying. Just a handful of PL assists (4) is not good enough for a player in his position and of his stature, and his lack of accurate passing, especially with his final balls, is probably the cause of this.
Wenger also needed to strengthen the midfield as we needed to get a better balance between going for a second goal and defending our slender lead. To take Alexis off and bring on Coquelin made sense, but Alexis clearly thought differently. This is fine, but given the circumstances of this match it was very poor of him to ignore the beleaguered manager and stomp off for an early shower. I would not be surprised if we see Alexis start on the bench during the next few games and possibly not play part at all anymore. It would also not surprise me if we see Arsenal cash in on the 27 year old Chilean this summer, although I sincerely hope that is not the case.
I loved what Danny brought to the game and I am happy he found the net again. Was he MOTM though? Not for me. The best player on the pitch was Elneny – closely followed by Mesut, Cech, Koz and Danny – who did half of Rambo’s box to box job as well as his own deeper DM role. He hoovers up around his fellow players continuously with unrivaled energy and passion; he keeps it simple yet always wants to move the ball forward when he can and with seldom or never making a mistake; he fills important gaps in our defence but also penetrated the opposition’s box regularly, and was very close to scoring yesterday with a fine, composed effort. What a beast of a player and the thought of him working with a fit Jack or Santi, or Le Coq when we have to play more compact, is mouthwatering. It is early days but this seems to be as good a midfield signing as Mesut Ozil was a few seasons ago.
I was also proud of Ozil, Koz and Petr, and indeed the rest of the team, for their drive and fight during the entire game. Mesut never stopped trying, Koz was beastly in defence and brought the ball forward well and Petr’s saved us a few times when required.
Three points and the supporters doing their job by supporting the team and the manager during a meaningful game and a crucial period of the season. Plenty of positives but also lessons to be learned from our recent games, and getting the balance right against Citeh next weekend will be paramount to where we will end up in the PL table. Let’s give the Northern Oilers a proper game!
Arsene having the final dance? 🙂
COME ON YOU FOXES!! 😀