Monday, 21 January 2013

Shameful Sagna's shocker -(s)no(w) joke for Wenger as Gunners beaten -Signings needed

Morning Gooners.

It again was a disappointing weekend for us all. I'm not sure if this Jekyll and Hyde Arsenal team knew they were (a) playing in a London derby or (b) playing a game of association football with two halves of 45 minutes. Because from where I stood, we didn't turn up to play at 1.30pm.

For a second Sunday in a row Arsenal were up against one of our biggest rivals. A team challenging for a top four position. We had the chance to close the gap on them and bring third place into play. Instead we find ourselves in sixth place, with the same amount of points as Liverpool.

The manager picked the same team who had put in an admirable display against Swansea in midweek. However due to illness our bench was missing Lucas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Andrey Arshavin was brought in from the wilderness to take a place amongst the substitutes. However the Russian was our only attacking option.

The game could have got off to an even worse start than it did. Abou Diaby tangled dangerously in the box and looked to bring down Oscar. However Martin Atkinson waved play on. We got out of jail but were sitting deep, not getting close to the opposition and letting them run at us at will.

Minutes after the home side's penalty appeal, Walcott sets Giroud free alone on goal. It was on his left side and the striker gets his shot away, but it's wide. Putting it on target would have at least worked Cech. He should have scored. But it joins the long list of missed opportunities in front of goal for the Frenchman.

Then Chelsea go down the other end and score. Should we have had a foul for a poor challenge on Francis Coquelin? Yes. Should we have been able to prevent Mata's goal. Certainly. There was still a lot for the home side to do before the Spaniard got into a shooting position and we made it easy for them.

Atkinson made the wrong decision when he waved play on. But that shouldn't give an excuse to stop playing and let Mata once again score against us six minutes into this game.

We were two down ten minutes later when Ramires dived over Szczesny's leg and Atkinson brought the foul. He booked our keeper and then Lampard stepped up to send the Poland international the wrong way.
It was all too easy for the home team.

I don't think the referee or anyone else in the ground knew exactly what went on with Szczesny and Ramires for the penalty. But the goalkeeper's outstretched leg gave the Chelsea player an object of contact to dive over and he took it.

Bacary Sagna had an awful first half. That's twice I've witnessed the French right back put in a stinking shift away from home. The last time being at Southampton on New Years day. He wasn't chasing back. A third of his passes in the first 45 were misplaced and his defensive game seemed to be of a player who didn't care about his responsibilities.

As our most experienced player on the pitch, he wasn't showing the commitment any Gooner wants to see of a player in our shirt. Whether his perfor mance was down to the uncertainty of his future or not, no player can put in a shift like he did and expect not to get pelters from his own fans. And Sagna certainly took some from the away section.

But the thing was he wasn't the only player who hadn't shown up. Arguably our most inexperienced player on the pitch - Francis Coquelin - was our best player in the first half. Our front four were pretty anonymous and Jack Wilshere couldn't influence the game like he would have wanted to.

And when we got ourselves into decent attacking positions our players couldn't keep themselves on side. Walcott and Giroud being the guilty parties.

The away section weren't pleased. The greatest hits of spend some f-ing money and Ivan Gazidis what the f do you do were sung. Quite why the CEO takes the stick when he's not picking the team is beyond me.

One thing I did notice in the first half was the manager seemed to stay routed to the bench. He didn't appear in his tecnical area much at all, unlike Benitez who stood in his for the whole game. The manager could have made the changes to our shape or got messages to our players but instead he waited until half time to change things around.

And the second half was much better. The team actually turned up and played. Mertesacker had our first chance but it was straight at Cech and then Walcott does the same within minutes. But the signs are positive. Most of the football is being played in the Chelsea half.

Wilshere is more involved, Walcott looks up for it and Cazorla isn't as anonymous as he was in the first half.

And then the break-through comes. Walcott loves scoring against Chelsea and he finds the back of the net from a neat Cazorla through ball.

Ramsey comes on to replace Coquelin as soon as the goal is scored and we continue in the same vain. We certainly have more of the ball. It's just whether we can do the right thing with it. After the Walcott goal we have 32 minutes to find an equalizer. But our bench is light of attacking options.

When Arshavin comes to warm up he's wearing trainers. Not something I've ever seen before.

There were few chances for us to add to our lead and down the other end Szczesny has had a quiet half. Wenger makes the change, bringing on the Russian for Diaby. Arshavin goes left, Cazorla into the hole and Wilshere drops deep to play alongside Ramsey.

Sadly it makes little difference. Torres has a couple of runs at our defence but is marshaled well by Vermaelen. Then Chelsea bring on Demba Ba for the final ten minutes. Ba had been invited to knock John Terry out by the Arsenal support, an action which got the Senegalese striker smiling.

Szczesny has an Almunia moment when he races to try and meet the ball outside the area as Ba advances towards goal. He misses it but luckily Vermaelen blocks the shot on the line.

A series of corners within the five minutes of stoppage time give us hope. But it's not to be and Chelsea hold on to take all three points.

While the spirited second half display was exactly what all traveling Gooners paying £58 for the privilege, we only have ourselves to blame for the abject first half performance.

What is so frustrating is that its clear we're not a bad team who can hold our own when we want to against our top four rivals. But we don't have the belief and confidence to do it from the get-go. It seems this team needs to be told its good enough to win these types of games. And Chelsea were there for the taking, if we hadn't shot ourselves in the foot with our first half display.

The ingredients are all there. We just can't seem to get the mixture right.

And if we were more clinical in front of goal, we would have had a win yesterday. Instead we came away with nothing.

There is no time for us to feel sorry for ourselves. We've got an important game on Wednesday night which we cannot afford to lose.

Back with more tomorrow.


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