Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lolo out for three weeks -Walcott played on despite injury -Sacrifice Ramsey!

Morning Gooners.

Our unbeaten run continues with a good point at Goodison last night. A draw in isolation isn't a bad result given that going into the game the home team were undefeated on their own soil for their ten previous league matches. The eleventh was our 1-0 win their back in March.

I think what people are more upset about is the manner in which we whimpered to a draw against an Aston Villa team who were their for the taking, if we'd shown up with any purpose.

However this is our fourth unbeaten league match and we are starting to put a run together. We've got a good set of fixtures ahead of us and if we do start to click again there is every chance we can win the majority of those games before our two huge fixtures in January.

The game couldn't have started better for us with Theo Walcott passing to Aaron Ramsey, with the Welshman rolling the ball to his left to set up Walcott for the opening goal inside a minute.

Then Laurent Koscielny pulled his groin. Arsene Wenger said post match this would in normal circumstances see the Frenchman sidelined for three weeks. The manager threw on Kieran Gibbs and switched captain Thomas Vermaelen into the centre of the defence.

Everton game back into the game and it was disappointing how quiet Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere were during the first half. The equalizer came when Mikel Arteta was dispossessed just outside our area. Bacary Sagna had the chance to clear but his attempt was blocked and the ball came to danger man Marouane Fellaini who scored with a low drive from outside the box.

Wojciech Szczesny has every right to feel angry with his defenders who should have closed the Belgium international down quicker. But it was no more than Everton deserved. And they could have been ahead had Nikica Jelavic not ballooned his effort over the bar when he got the better of Per Mertesacker.

At half time it felt we still had the opportunity to step up a gear and throw everything we had at them. We weren't getting enough service to Olivier Giroud and despite his goal, Theo Walcott had been peripheral to proceedings.

The second half was better and the intensity of the game was high. But we still didn't create enough shots that  called Tim Howard into action. Just one in fact. Although Olivier Giroud's header wasn't far from creeping in.

Last night was our fourth tough match within 13 days. The intensity of the games is really taking it out on some players and this is why I'd like to see a bit of squad rotation for Saturday's game with Swansea. Lukas Podolski didn't play last night through illness and Tomas Rosicky was on the bench. Andrey Arshavin wasn't even in the squad!

The manager revealed in his post match press conference that Theo Walcott had been suffering with an ankle problem in the second half which explains his quiet game overall. It's surprising that the manager didn't bring on Gervinho earlier or use Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.

Instead it was the industrious Aaron Ramsey who made way for the Ivorian in the 80th minute. I thought again, like at Villa Park, the Welshman was one of our better players. His passing has improved and he's creating chances for his team mates. And to think he's just 21-years-old and has come back to fitness from a potentially career ending injury.

I think a lot of expectation is put on our young players to perform consistently. Unfortunately for us, that's not how it works. We're watching Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have a difficult second season. We won't see Jack Wilshere back to his best until next season I don't expect - although we are seeing glimpses now. And Theo Walcott has driven most to distraction with his inconsistency which he's finally ironing out of his game in his eighth season at the club.

Personally I don't understand why so much anger is sent in the direction of Ramsey. He's not a world beater but few are at 22. Do I think he'll be a mainstay in the team in the future? Why not? He's at the right club to develop him into the best player he can be. What I do know is that confidence is key and can make or break players. I'd love everyone to get off Ramsey's back, support him and the team. But it appears that every team has to have a player who's not good enough that "fans" single out as our weak link.

Ramsey hasn't been that player for me in the last two games. He's made 121 appearances for the club, with more than a third of those from the bench. There were professionals on the pitch last night who have made a lot more and were more inconsistent than the Welshman. I think he's an easy target and undeservedly.

He gave 100% last night and at Villa Park and as long as a player works their hardest for the team and does their best, then I don' think you can grumble about their performance too much. I just hope others raise their game because this season is going to be tough for us to finish in the top four otherwise.

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow.

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