Match report: The wait goes on


Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham City

As a football fan you roll with the highs, but you also have to cope with the lows. Barcelona, a few weeks ago, was as good as it gets. Yesterday, losing in the last minute to an amateur defensive error, was of course the opposite.

You could line up the disappointing aspects of that game and ask them to form an orderly queue, but for me the most frustrating thing was the way we played. We had good, short bursts in each half, and plenty of possession, but overall the Arsenal that we wanted to see just wasn’t there for enough of the game. We did make Ben Foster work at times, and scored a superb equaliser, but we just didn’t do enough. I have no idea why.

Of course, credit to Birmingham. They hustled and harried, knew our weaknesses, played to them well, and it worked. We were undone by bad defending at a set piece and by a freak defensive howler. Had we played better it may not have mattered. But in a tight game like yesterday’s, those mistakes were pivotal. They deserved to win and you can’t begrudge them a first major trophy since 1963. That’s a lot more than a six year wait.

We missed Walcott and Fabregas, but that’s no excuse. Most of our best XI was out there but how many of them can you say played the game of their lives? Wilshere was tireless again but he couldn’t do it all on his own. There’s little point hauling players over the coals but I do look at Rosicky with increasing frustration these days. I don’t think he’s done enough in recent weeks to merit a starting place in a cup final, and he struggled again yesterday. But there you go – he wasn’t the only one.

As for the goals, well both were easily avoidable. It was not the finest hour for Koscielny or Szczesny. I imagine they’re feeling particularly blue this morning.

It was a big test, and we failed it. Wenger desperately wanted to win this to push on and hush the naysayers, but the wait goes on. He’ll be as frustrated as anyone that we did not rise to the occasion. Were we hampered by the ‘need’ to win something? We could debate that until the cows came home.

The fans filing out at the end were pretty mutinous (‘Wenger get your chequebook out’ being a familiar refrain). There’s nothing wrong with letting off steam at the end of a bitter defeat. It was pretty hard to be anything other than downbeat.

I dipped into the interwebs and sure enough, there are already acres of newsprint dedicated to the potential psychological effect of this defeat on our prospects for the rest of the season. Certainly, it will be hard to shake off. But luckily for us we have a very winnable FA Cup replay on Wednesday. Better that way than a ten-day wait to stew on things.

The reaction again the O’s will be interesting. The team Wenger picks will be interesting.

Ah well, onwards and upwards.

Need a pick-me-up? Own an iPhone? Here’s a wallpaper made from the ’92 away shirt to cheer you up.

9 thoughts on “Match report: The wait goes on

  1. I would say that the fault lies in Wenger’s motivational skills. FFS, he doesn’t even bark orders from the touchline, does he? He just let the games pass him by, crossing his fingers. He is great talent spotter, but a tactician he ain’t.

  2. Great talent spotter?? I take it you mean ‘talent’ like Chamakh, Koscielny, and Squillachi. The man is clueless and has lost his way. We’ve got a board that are happy to bank the money that comes with a top 4 finish and put no pressure on him to push on and actually win things. Sorry Arsene, but thanks for the memories. Time to move on

  3. AW spare some responsibilities on the defeat… Is it mean that those youngsters easily crack under pressure?? I do believe price for young & inexperience (or lack of big games experience) footballers although is peanuts to Gunners but the COST of it can be quite “unbearable” at times….

  4. Anyone who was there when Gus trod on the ball in ’88 knows it’s not necessarily the end of the world.

  5. Why are people bitching about Chamakh? He led the line alone at the beginning of the season when Fabregas, RvP, Walcott and Bendtner were out and did a very good job. He’s hardly played since RvP came back and yet people now think he’s rubbish. Seriously, get a life.

    A big part of the problem is Arsene’s loyalty to players who consistently under-perform, and he makes things more difficult for the team when the selection is questionable and then plays people in the wrong places. If he had to play Rosicky, best to stick him on the flank and Nasri in the middle, so Nasri and Jack could boss things. Nasri was utterly wasted on the flank.

  6. I was tempted to go weapons free on Rosicky. Nothing filled me with panic before the game quite like the news the Czech ghost was starting. Supported him through all the bad times, but it looks like his race is run. Lansbury, Frimpong and Ramsey will see him, and others, shipped off.

  7. Chamakh’s performance up until the return of van Persie kept us in the hunt for the league..a position we still occupy

    Short memories are as common as average defenders around the league. Name 3 available centre halves who would improve us a sensible price?

  8. 3 centre halves – Gary Cahill, Phil Jaglielka, Roger Johnson. All with bags of prem experience.

    Chamakh!!! Hasn’t been playing cos he’s tired!!! Lol

  9. It’s a bit charitable to describe playing Birmingham as ‘a big test’. It is a pretty straightforward assignment, as we had already shown twice this season.

    Like many others I was surprised Rosicky was in the team.

    Just seems to come down to nerves really – these players often seem to freeze when faced with a game they have to win (Barcelona in Champs League last season, MU in Champs League the year before that)

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