Arsenal match report: Too much in the ‘wanting zone’

Arsenal 1-1 Wolves

Twenty-seven attempts on goal, eleven attempts on target, thirteen corners, one goal. Frustrating, to say the least. The goals have dried up again at home (three in three league games – conceding two in the process), giving Wenger a fresh headache to mull over as we head into the New Year.

But as the stats suggest, you can’t really fault us for effort. The thing that struck me most yesterday was that, unlike the Arsenal of old, we didn’t wait until the 75th minute to crank the all-out attack handle. We were at Wolves’ throats from about the 60th minute. The lurid Hennessey happened to swat away everything we threw at him. I lost count of the amount of times I found myself with my head in my hands, practically kneeling, as another goalbound effort pinged off to safety. That’s football I suppose.

One other thing that was very noticeable was our lack of pace and width. Our game relies on our full-backs motoring forward, and pacy outlets on the wing, but didn’t have anything like that yesterday in the starting eleven. Having Vermaelen at left-back is like driving a Ferrari on a farm track. But what can you do? All four of our full-backs have long-term injuries (stress fracture, broken leg, ankle ligament damage and bizarre unhealing groin). Walcott was out ill.

Oxlade-Chamberlain could have supplied some of that but he remained glued to the bench as Arshavin and Chamakh entered fruitlessly into the fray. Neither man was able to make much of a difference, which will not surprise seasoned watchers of the spectacularly out-of-form duo. What does the Ox have to do, one wonders? Well, this one does, anyway.

As for the Wolves goal, we have ourselves to blame. A ruthless team when 1-0 up early in the game should go for the jugular, but yesterday our level seemed to drop. Complacency? Hard to say, but possibly.

Nevertheless, Walcott or no Walcott, full-backs or none, dodgy period after our goal or not, we should have won the game yesterday. It just never quite happened. Wolves were dogged.

It’s easy to suggest we have no plan B, and watching us toil on the edge of the box is pretty frustrating, but without the right balance in our team, it’s bound to have a detrimental effect. And besides, we did genuinely pepper their goal.

Nevertheless, the squad would patently benefit from a few new faces in January. Someone who can score goals when van Persie doesn’t would be a good starting point. Park’s “adaptation period” is apparently over but can we expect miracles from a player who has not been trusted to play a single minute of Premier League football in four months?

We’ve come a long way since our early-season punch-drunkenness, the spirit is good, but a new face or two would lift everyone. Can you imagine Chelsea, Liverpool or Spurs are not thinking along the same lines?

A lot of money was splurged last January – none at Arsenal. It’s not the best time to buy, but it can make a difference. Wenger tried it in 2009 when we need a spike by signing Arshavin – to initial success. I’m not saying buying new faces is the be-all and the end-all but why leave our improvement to chance?

PS – One excellent new addition to the Wenger lexicon. “We were a bit too much in the ‘wanting zone'”.

It’s the new handbrake.

More goals from Arsenal’s wings required

Scattering my eyes across the Sundays and the general theme hasn’t changed much: there’s the rustle of keeper talk and a persisting link to Everton’s Phil Jagielka. The latter story has been lingering long enough that the fee is now being quoted at a very un-Arsenal-like £15m. At that price, I can’t see us getting involved.

As for the keeper talk, well it appears to be a case of ABA – Anyone But Almunia. Akinfeev? Stekelenburg? James? You can never second-guess Wenger but I think we might still shop within the Premier League, on the basis that we cannot afford a costly bedding-in process. On that basis, do all roads still lead to Schwarzer?

As for our attacking options, it was noteworthy that Wenger said we wouldn’t be replacing the departed Eduardo. If this is true, then we will essentially have three central strikers (van Persie, Bendtner, Chamakh) and a substantial array of wide or deep attack-minded players to back them up (Arshavin, Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott, Vela, Wilshere).

I can see why he thinks that might be enough, especially allied to the goalscoring prowess of Fabregas. But if that is to be our lot, it’s worth returning to a theme I picked up at the tail end of last season – the need for more goals from those wide men.

We all know that van Persie has a good 20 goals in him, and Bendtner at least 15, but Chamakh, at least until we can judge him, remains an unknown quantity. Given the injury records of the first two of those, we need more from elsewhere.

Arshavin is exempt from the criticism about to come. With 12 goals scored despite playing up front on his own at times last season, we know he can pack a goal or two.

But look at the record of the others: Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott and Vela scored just 14 goals between them, of which only nine came in the league.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect better contributions from all four of those. For the two younger players, Walcott and Vela, they at the right age and cannot now hide behind the excuse of youth. They will also have Wilshere breathing down their necks (and both Diaby and Eboue can play wide too).

Nasri – ditto Walcott – should be hungry following their World Cup snubs and Rosicky will be fighting for his future.

To them all I say: More goals, chaps.