Arsenal 1-1 Middlesbrough
It’s just not quite working yet, is it?
Welcome to the world of Arsène’s Frustratables, the team that does everything except score. Did you know that we’ve already had 40 corners this league campaign? Yet as we all know, we are 17th in the table with a goal difference of -1. Frustrating? Just a smidgeon.
Still, there’s plenty to be positive about, that much is true. OK, we’re fannying about as much as we ever did at the edge of the box, but we did at least have a few more shots yesterday – Hleb, Rosicky, Fabregas all had good efforts saved. It’s a [Gael] cliché to say that someone’s going to get a right old beating off us soon – but I think they will. Quite when is another matter. Furthermore, it was a very solid debut from new boy Bill G, Eboue sparkled, and Rosicky looked good when he came on.
And it is worth pointing out that every single one of yesterday’s starting eleven is a first-choice for his national side, and has been away for the last two weeks. That’s a factor.
Honest and reasonable excuses aside, it does also mean we’ve dropped seven out of nine points against sides that, with respect, we don’t usually drop that many points against. Wenger’s feeling it too.
“I’m concerned,” he said after the game. “I cannot say I’m not worried with the amount of possession we have that we do not win.”
We do need to resolve the problem of how to beat massed defences, because both Villa and Boro have profited from clogging things up, and with our team currently so shot-shy, it’s not difficult to see where the problem lies.
This side could explode, but in terms of title pretensions, it needs to do so sooner rather than later. Should things not go our way next Sunday, we’d find ourselves 13 points behind the leaders, albeit with a game in hand. That’s a lot of points to have conceded by mid-September.
And, off on a tangent, a word about half-time refreshments. I know it’s early days and I know that teething problems are occurring and will doubtless be fixed, but it’s already got to the point whereby people just aren’t bothering trying to buy a beer or a dog at half-time. Before the game’s fine, as is after, but at the break the queues snake back to the back of the concourse and move at a snail’s pace. One solution, surely, is to have separate outlets for drink (ie beer) and food.
By the way – good little atmosphere for much of the game yesterday, I thought.