Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain wearing opposition colours? Podolski anonymous -Sanga awful -No Henry return

Morning Gooners!

After the mauling of Newcastle and the second half turn around this Arsenal team produced, I went to St Mary's last night with the hope this team would push on. I'd hoped that we'd learnt not to take lightly the performance of  lesser teams earlier in the season. But it appears we've not.

There is still an expectation that we can turn up and win. Against a well disciplined and highly motivated Southampton side, we were never going to come away from the south coast with three points without working for them.

The game started brightly. We had the best of the opening ten minutes, but soon the home team worked their way back into the game. And for the rest of the first half we looked dire. It was shockingly poor. It didn't seem that we were able to string two passes together. Theo Walcott was isolated in the centre forward role. He made three successful passes and had a free kick in the whole of the first 45.

Unfortunately this team mates weren't doing much better. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was throwing in crosses from the right - to target man Theo? - none of which found an Arsenal shirt. His passing was awful as well.

And as for Lukas Podolski, did he even make a contribution in the final third of the pitch? I really thought we might have turned the corner with the German. He's had a disappointing first season so far but I thought he'd been good in the last three games. Yesterday it didn't seem like he was that bothered. And that kind of summed up Arsenal's performance over all.

I think Bacary Sagna had his worst game in an Arsenal shirt. He was so sloppy and didn't seem bothered about running back when he got caught out of position. Carl Jenkinson may lack the experience of his older colleague, but he does not lack the application and will run himself into the ground for this club. Personally I hope the manager drops the French international and throws in Jenkinson for the next game at least.

We went behind when we couldn't clear our lines. Sanga hits the ball right into the danger area. Kieran Gibbs - who I thought was one of our better performers - couldn't get the ball clear and Laurent Koscielny appears to make sure he gets his body out of the way instead of charging down the shot. This all happens as our captain stands on as a witness.

But all wasn't lost as the home side handed us our goal on a plate. A Walcott free kick - his only meaningful contribution in the whole match - was turned into the net by Guly.

We huffed and puffed in the second half - the manager bringing on Olivier Giroud to act as our attacking focal point - but as we only had one show on target all night we were unlikely to win the game.

Giroud had looked good in his Newcastle cameo. But all his flicks and tricks didn't come off against the Saints.

As a final throw of the dice the manager threw on Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey to try and change the game. But the Southampton defence - one which has conceded 38 goals - stood firm against our shot shy attack.

The manager post match ruled out a return for Thierry Henry for a third spell at the club. I hope he has only done that because he'll bring in other attacking reinforcements. Because on yesterday's evidence we certainly need fresh blood.

I must also mention the kindness of Jack Wilshere on the final whistle. He was the only player to come within spitting distance of the away support and gave his shirt to a youngster. He must have made that kid's day. All the other players clapped from the half way line, apart from Theo and The Ox, who applauded the home support.

And a final point. I get some players are respectful of their former clubs. Southampton was a stepping stone for The Ox and Theo. But that doesn't mean you have to have poor games against your old side. Don't celebrate any goals you score - I can understand that - but not showing up with a performance is disrespectful to the Arsenal fans who help pay your wages.

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


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