Monday, 18 April 2011

[Ratings] Eboue was reckless but he didn't cost us the title

Morning Gooners.

I think we can safely say that barring miracles, Arsenal are now out of the title race. We've conspired against ourselves to make it happen and I don't think we can blame anyone else.

I could go into huge analysis of the game but there is just one big area where we fell down and a minor one. Going forward we just had no edge whatsoever. We hardly made any clear cut chances which stand out.

The players looked tired, especially in midfield. Cesc Fabregas made more misplaced than I'd ever seen him do before. Jack Wilshere wasn't at the races either. I'd ask is their training schedule too hard in his part of the season? The players had Monday off but trained Tuesday through to Saturday. Is that too much?

The formation was crying out to be changed as well. 4-2-3-1 works very well if there is support from the central player in the three (Cesc Fabregas) to the main striker (Robin van Persie). I thought that Cesc was playing too deep and Robin was too isolated. And if we've got Theo putting a cross in, Samir Nasri needs to make sure he's in the box with van Persie trying to convert the chance. All to often we just had the Dutchman trying to get on the end of balls.

Ideally we needed Marouane Chamakh on the field to pull the defence around, especially after Jamie Carragher went off. They had two inexperienced players at full back and we weren't testing them. Then they had a make shift central defence which we didn't put under enough pressure. It was all too easy and predictable.

The fact we've only scored nine league goals in eight games at home since the start of the year is another worrying sign. And there have only been four different goal scorers - two of whom were defenders - also shows we've completely dried up in front of goal.

Where are the goals from Nasri, Fabregas and Walcott? No one yesterday wanted to bust a gut to get into the box and take the opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net.

Arsene Wenger was right when he said home form would win us the league. The fact is we've lost our opportunity to take the title because of our poor home form.

Yesterday wasn't when we lost the league. We started that process with defeats against West Brom, Newcastle, Tottenham and continued it with draws against Sunderland, Blackburn and Liverpool. Twelve points which would see us six points clear at the top of the table, not trailing Manchester United by six.

And now we come to the decision of Emmanuel Eboue to jockey Lucas so tightly in the closing seconds of the match that the Brazilian didn't need to be handed an opportunity to go down when only slight contact was made. Completely mindless from the Ivorian. The player was going away from goal and even though it could be argued it was a dive, you don't need to be as close as Eboue got.

From going from a position of fighting on for the league title, we've now got to make sure we don't slip up again and allow the teams behind us to make up ground.

Szczesny (8) was good and commanding in his area which is exactly what we needed against Carroll. Eboue (4) had a good game aside from his mindless defending at the end. Djourou (7) was composed as he always is whilst Koscielny (8) hit the bar with a header and is the perfect partner in the centre for the Swiss. Clichy (6) had a decent game but didn't get forward enough. Diaby (8) had an excellent game with plenty of industry. Is he playing that way to ensure he's here next season? Wilshere (6) looked tired. Walcott (6) didn't do enough for me to test the young full back whilst Fabregas (6) had some incisive passing but lacked his normal high standards with his passing. Nasri (5) completely disappointed. Where has he gone? Whilst van Persie (7) made the most of what little service he got.

Arshavin (7) made more effort in his cameo than Nasri did all game. Bendtner (6) tried his best and Song (6) did likewise.

As not to end on a sour note, congratulations to Jack Wilshere who was announced as the PFA Young Player of the Year last night. A thoroughly deserved award.

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