Braga 2-0 Arsenal
Here’s what Djourou said in the tunnel after last night’s defeat:
“We had the game under control and two counter-attacks and silly, silly mistakes – we can be disappointed because we should have won the game easily, it’s very hard to take. A point would have qualified us so it’s a shame to concede goals like that, I just cannot understand.
We have to look again, that shouldn’t happen. It was a lack of concentration, the team needs to concentrate and do better than that.”
Heard any of that before?
Just a few days after the team last made silly mistakes and lost concentration, they did it again last night. What had been a Champions League procession – we took nine points from nine – has become a breathless struggle for qualification. At least we are up against Partizan, nought points from 15, and are at Fortress Emirates (where the drawbridge keeps getting stuck on ‘down’). And at least we are getting value for money on our season tickets with a final group stage match that actually means something.
What of the game? It was rubbish. Wenger spoke after the Spuds defeat of the potentially worrying effects of giving up a two goal lead against our biggest rivals, and last night their hangover was so painful to endure I was reaching for the alka seltzer long before half time.
We had oodles and oodles of possession and passed the ball to deflation, but did next to nothing with it. 633 passes attempted (Braga: 248), 550 completed (Braga: 166). Shots on target: 1.* One measly shot on target.
So there was a reaction to the Spuds game, but not the one Wenger had called for.
Wenger was left belching fumes afterwards, directing much of his ire to the “useless” match officials for not giving as clear a penalty as you will ever see for a tackle on Charlie Vela. That should have given us a 1-0 lead and possibly – though there are no guarantees with this side – a cathartic victory. Fifa now have about 16 assistant referees dotted around the place yet not one of them apparently saw it.
That gave us time for a good old collapse. Both goals were utterly avoidable – yet more bad defending. The first was a punt right down the middle, which sliced the defence open like butter. The second was another counter, but this time Matheus had three players buzzing around him. Not one of them made a tackle.
It was a strangely lifeless, lethargic performance and there’s no doubt that we’ve dumped ourselves into a huge rut of our own making.
Unlike great sides, we never just bounce back after a defeat. We tend to take another one or two on the chin before staggering back to our feet.
Last night, we looked anything but a great side. We looked depressingly average.
Villa will be licking their chops at the thought of facing us on Saturday.
They will suspect we are there for the taking.
* Stats courtesy of Total Football CL 2010 app