Monday, 7 October 2013

Wilshere the hero and villain in West Brom draw

Morning Gooners.

It seemed to me that from pretty much the off, we weren't at the races yesterday. Perhaps the game had come too soon after the Napoli match and our team needed another day's rest to be truly fresh for a fight at the Hawthorns.

The manager made two changes from midweek. One enforced - Carl Jenkinson replacing the injured Bacary Sagna - while Jack Wilshere came straight back into the team after being dropped to the bench for the  midweek game.

I thought Wilshere was off the pace from the off and didn't deserve his place in the starting line up. The formation also made us narrow. With Aaron Ramsey wide right of the attacking three and Wilshere left, it felt we were unbalanced. Mesut Ozil is still finding his feet in English football and I don't think we'll see the best of him until after Christmas, so without Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla in the team, Arsene Wenger is muddling through.

There is only so long you can get away with putting square pegs in round holes. I think in midweek, having Tomas Rosicky available on the left gave us a better balance than we had in the starting line up yesterday. I'm not sure that playing Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta works either. It may give us a solid base in the middle of the park, but they don't seem to - as a partnetship - cover the wide areas as other players playing in those positions do.

I don't agree with the media notion that Jack cannot play on the left of the attacking three, or that he finds it hard to do the defensive work there. I think he's a player who is struggling to find his best form but give him time and he'll put things right. I'd agree it's not his most natural position and the manager has said perviously he's not best with his back to goal, he prefers to face the play but he has all the qualities to play in any position.

What I do get frustrated about is the amount of time he spends on the floor or lamenting the referee for not giving a foul. There were times yesterday that it was embarrassing that Wilshere was trying to win a foul for his own poor decision in trying to take on too many players. Yes he gets kicked far too much. But perhaps if he hadn't cried wolf so many times in the first half, he might have rightly been given a penalty in the second.

Not that we can excuse the referee Lee Mason. He seemed to be happy strolling through the game not making a contentious decision and picking up his fee, before driving home. I thought there were challenges on both sides which deserved free kicks, bookings and at least two penalties on Wilshere which weren't given.

I'd mentioned perviously - after our league cup win at the Hawthorns - about our inability of defending a second ball from a set play and again it cost us yesterday. No one was marking Claudio Yacob when the ball came in and the Argentine had a free header. I hope this is something the coaching staff work on with the team when they return to London Colney.

With Ramsey coming off after a blow par performance for Rosicky, it was immediately obvious that the Czech international would make an impact. And four minutes after his introduction, Arsenal were level. A quick passing move found Jack Wilshere free on the edge of the box and his first time shot took a needed deflection off Jonas Olsson past Boaz Myhill.

A point I thought was a fair result from the game where Nicolas Anelka missed a couple of glorious chances to win the game for the home team. Come the end of the season, I hope I look back on this game as a point gained rather than two points lost.

We go into the international break top of the league on goals scored. Things are going well, we'll have players back from injury in two weeks when we face Norwich. And we'll need them with a demanding set of fixtures which include two matches against Dortmund and games in the league against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.

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