More Away Day Frustration

Crash, bang, wallop. It’s straight back down to earth for us after today’s 1-0 defeat to Everton, isn’t it? We got what we deserved – nothing.

The last week has been a good one – a 7-0 win and three exciting signings raised spirits following our last, dismal, away outing at Wigan – but today reminded us that all is not right when we play away from home. It was another away defeat, our seventh if you include the Milk Cup, and for the most part, we went down too tamely. Even Fabregas’s needless red card was, well, a bit lame.

Everton were very much improved from our last meeting with them, I take nothing away from them, but too many of our players didn’t show us enough of what they can do – Gilberto was particularly bad, and Campbell was too rusty – and the old failings came flooding back, notably the absence of physical oomph.

We created enough chances in the first 25 minutes, with Ljungberg missing a sitter and Fabregas denied by the keeper, but after that, and despite more possession in the second half, there was nothing doing. The frustration was all too evident at the end for some of our players, but they’ve only got themselves to blame. We’re now getting – we’ve already got – the reputation for being too lightweight and easy to turn over away from home, something Wenger clearly moved to address with the purchase of Diaby.

Wenger brought him on in the 80th minute, and he did OK, but let’s not forget he’s just 19, and has barely any experience. We can’t expect miracles from him, it’s just not fair.

However, he may get more chances, and quicker than he thinks. Gilberto is a decent midfielder but is desperately off form, and he needs a breather, a kick up the Charlies, or both.

One plus point has got to be the emergence of Kerrea Gilbert, arguably our best player today on his league debut. He’s not scared to go forward, he’s not scared to tackle, and despite being targeted as a potential soft point, he stood up very, very well. He’s got a great future on that evidence.

I’m not going to grumble too much as Wenger is tackling our weaknesses, but if we’re serious about fourth place – anything higher looks pie in the sky at present – then we can’t afford many more afternoons like that.

We can sweep that one under the table I think.

Onwards to Tuesday.

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