Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Szczesny brands performance "childish" -Henry's debut delayed -Ramsey reveals team-building plan

Morning Gooners.

A late defeat is always hard to take. Twice we've been in the position that after we've had a player sent off, we've lost the game. Liverpool early in the season when Emmanuel Frimpong got himself red carded and then when down to two goals in the final ten minutes.

Monday was different in a way to the Liverpool performance. We had our noses in front through Laurent Koscielny's goal. But we also had a much stronger team performance, especially in the first half at Craven Cottage.

At the moment I don't think the league table lies. We're in fifth, ahead of Liverpool who lost 3-0 at Manchester City last night. We have the potential to finish in the top four but we really need to add some more firepower to our squad. The other thing I thought we had, but perhaps lack, is mental toughness to get us over the line.

I don't want to be all knee jerk in my reaction to the Fulham defeat. It came in special circumstances following four games inside 12 days. We were physically tired and as the second half wore on it was more and more enviable to me that Fulham would score and get themselves back into the game. It doesn't help that we've got injuries galore to those who play at full back and are being forced to play others out of position but I wonder if we couldn't have toughed those final five minutes out with some more focus.

It's something that Wojciech Szczesny believes we should have been able to do, branding our performance in the final five minutes as "childish"..

He said:
"There was probably some tired legs, but I think probably we should have kept the concentration and kept the focus and we would have been fine. 
"But I would imagine it was a very childish performance in the end from us. It was very confusing. 
"I thought for 85 minutes we defended really well with 11 men and they never looked like scoring and then, when we had to play with 10 men, they looked very dangerous.  
"I’m very disappointed with the result, but hopefully we can recover as soon as possible. The fixtures come thick and fast and players get tired and these kind of results can happen." 
I would take issue that Fulham didn't look dangerous. In the second half especially they were running the game.  Those of us stood in the away end expected Arsenal to be attacking towards us for the majority of the second half but the Arsenal players could only muster three shots in front of the goal we were behind.

In the grand scheme of things we need to add attacking players who can make a difference to our squad. Theirry Henry is joining but he's a short term solution to a problem we can all see is obvious. And if people think his return will make a huge difference I think they are deluded.

The club had hoped to field the Frenchman in a reserve team fixture at London Colny this lunchtime, but The Sun reports that's not been possible because the paperwork is still not completed.

Szczesny says the team need Henry. I would suggest we need someone on top of the Frenchman. Without Gervinho we are going to look like a completely different team. He adds an unpredictable spark to our play which is going to be lacking when he's at the Africa Cup of Nations. I hope the manager has already sat down with his team of scouts to discuss the options and getting on the phone this week to make some signings which we desperately need.

One area where we look set to be handed a boost is at right back where Bacary Sagna could be available to return against Manchester United, the Daily Mail report. The same newspaper says that Lukas Podolski has requested more time to make his decision as about whether he wants to renew his contract with Cologne.

Aaron Ramsey has revealed the latest bonding exercise the team are going to undertake... a golf day.

He told the match day programme:
"A few of the lads are getting out on the  driving range now, so when the weather gets better I imagine there'll be a few tournaments going on. My drives are normally pretty straight though! 
"I think Rob the Chef's going to blow the cobwebs off his clubs and make a comeback soon too, so in the New Year there should be some interesting competitions! I'll post some photographs when we've been out there."
I think we're all in agreement that the squad is looking more together and that's got to be down to these bonding sessions. I don't think we should in any way underestimate the work Robin van Persie is doing as Club Captain, both on and off the field.

If we're more together as a team it's only going to help us on the pitch. The atmosphere inside the camp is stronger since the departure of Cesc Fabregas and the wise heads in Vermaelen, Arteta and Mertesacker alongside the Dutchman have certainly helped to turn the fortunes of our season on the pitch around.

And it's in part down to the relationships which have been forged off the pitch and has helped the players develop an understanding that has seen us get through some tricky moments. When the players return to the training ground after their day off yesterday, I hope that they all aren't too down in the dumps. Late defeats hurt, but we've just got to pick up where we started prior to Fulham.

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