Better performance, but same weaknesses

Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal

Improved performance? Yes, but with the same defensive clangers and the same lack of striking options as ever. All too familiar, all too avoidable.

The bottom line for me is this side is not currently good enough to challenge for the title. Against Chelsea and Man Utd, we are consistently coming up short.

Whilst against most sides we can still score enough goals to give us a good chance of winning despite our porous defence, against the best sides we let in more than we are able to score.

All the possession in the world means nothing if you do not do enough with it and defend poorly. After just eight minutes we went AWOL and let in a soft goal. It was truly shambolic stuff and yet, who’s really surprised? We’ve been defending like that all season. All of the top three have scored 60 goals, yet Arsenal have conceded a third more – 30 rather than 20. Therein lies one of the reasons why we are nine points behind.

Arshavin should then have equalised with one of the two decent chances we had, before we were undone again, this time on the counter. 2-0 down, and no Kanu to save us.

Up front, our one fit striker Bendtner was not fit enough to start, so Arshavin once again led the line. He had one decent chance as mentioned, but really, he shouldn’t be there. He’s only there for lack of options.

Which does beg the question – again – why did Wenger not buy a striker this January? Was there really not a single striker available who could have given us something for four months?

Still, there were positives. It was a much more spirited performance, much more committed. You can’t fault them for that. And on an individual level, It was good to see Diaby back. I think he’s growing as a player and adds a lot to the team when fit.

Right, I need to leave it at that. No more time to dwell.

Onto Wednesday…


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Booland

    Why was Song playing in a so advanced role in first 30 mins?! Why have we stopped playing on counter? Is it because even Wenger lacks confidence in our defense? We can only play on counter if we have a better defense. But we really do, well, apart from the GK position. Over the season we have showed that we can defend when we want to… in last two games we just played like sorta Real Madrid. They were smart – they waited like a hawk to take an advantage of our mistakes – and let us polish the football.

    Anyway, we are not there yet – hopefully we will get another chance this season – if not – hope they’ve improved next season.

  2. Stevie G

    No doubt many disgruntled supporters will take these two defeats to criticise and pour scorn upon Mr Wengers inactivity.
    The fact remains that Arsenal play riveting and captivating football.
    We have been undone by two terrific players in Rooney and Drogba and from what I can see neither of those has been for sale and a similar alternative is not easily located.
    Disappointed yes of course we are but the only realistic change that Arsene has missed is dropping Almunia to bring in either Fabianski or Mannone.
    Defensively the back four are good players but Manuel is lacking any form of confidence or form.A more prolific shot stopper would have saved us four or five points earlier this season.

  3. Esquire

    Good, succinct summation, EL. Better spirit, but still a lack of composure in the final third. Chelsea came to life, stepped it up a gear when their few chances appeared. We seem to lack that extra gear and the sheer power to break a game open.
    For me, where Wenger went wrong this past window was not being determined from day one to find a striker that could do the job for six games (and perhaps a temp. DM so that Eastmond and an unhealthy Denilson weren’t left exposed). He didn’t need a star(s). Just a temp. But he was thinking long-term.
    He’s got Chamakh lined up for the summer and doesn’t want the tension of RVP, Bendtner, Chamakh, (maybe Vela) and one other all fighting for a single place in the starting XI next season.
    From a strategic point of view, which is his undoubted strength, it’s understandable. In terms of short-term tactics it has cost us an even chance in the past few games. He needed a striker for now and worry about the congestion come summer. Maybe he realised that if reports that he tried to sign at the end of the window are accurate. But it was too late. He rolled the dice and we lost.

  4. Gunnerlad

    I disagree about the back four. Clichy looks woefully out of his depth. The fact he left the far post to bark orders at other players for the first goal is inexcusable. Him and Vermaelen were both at fault for tge second goal. I’m fed up of seeing Clichy washed up at sea when they break us (which happens so often lately).

    For once no blame on Almunia, but he doesn’t instill confidence in his backline and that is much of the issue. I too thought Song was far too advanced, his immaturity showed against the bigger teams. He isn’t fast enough to recover from being out of position.

    There are two differences between United/Chelsea and Arsenal:

    They both have a quality, experienced keeper who they can rely on with a well organised and disciplined back four who know when to hold back.

    They have 1,2 and even three quality proven strikers to finish chances. Drogba was living on scraps yesterday and nearly bagged a hattrick. RVP being fully fit for a season obviously cannot happen, so someone else needs to be brought in.

    Wenger is such a tight wad. Chamakh for £6m in Jan may have been more than what it would cost in the Summer, but if we have a trophy, who cares?

  5. Tom C

    Again naive defending cost us – nobody on the back post? shocking – I think it was Song who lost his man for the first and Clichy dragged all over the place for the second. Still I don’t feel as down beat about this defeat as the Man U defeat. Chelsea are a fantastic team, packed full of top class players who have played together for years – there’s not many weaknesses anywhere in the team and they don’t often lose at the Bridge either, so let’s not hit the Wenger out button eh?

  6. Womble

    Stevie G is a deluded Wengerphile who can do nothing better than criticise fellow fans for criticising Wenger’s lack of transfer activity. Yes, it’s really riveting and captivating watching us lose 9 out of the last 10 games against Man U and Chelsea.

  7. Farnborough Gunner

    Booland – I think the reason we don’t play a counter-attacking game so much is because other teams have worked out how dangerous we can be at counter attacking and how we struggle to penterate a packed defense. So, when they play us more teams will sit back, pack their defense and counter-attack against us. We don’t have a plan B to get around this, such as putting using a couple of proper wingers and a big centre forward to allow us to go around a packed defense rather than through it. When teams use these tactics against us Wenger moans about defensive football, as if it shouldn’t be allowed.

  8. Booland

    Farnborough Gunner, I agree with you. But we were playing away and played like a home game. Chelsea were street smart and we weren’t. If we had played like Chelsea then it surely would’ve have been a poor game and probably ended in a draw. I think, if we weren’t chasing for the top position, then don’t think we would have played this open in last two games. We didn’t learn from our home defeat against Chelsea and United. I presume Wenger hoped the team would be more clinical this team and take the chances, but we again didn’t take our chances.

  9. DJMDT

    What concerns me about these two results is that we have been completey undone by ineffective defensive tactics. Aside from questions surrounding transfer inactivity, it worries me that the coaching team (not just Wenger) can’t seem to organise a defence made up of skilled and experienced players.

  10. Stevie G

    Womble,you are right defeat leaves a particularly bitter taste.
    But surely if a football manager is going to engage his chequebook within the transfer window he owes it to the club to ensure that any players he buys can take the club further forward either by giving an extra dimension to our play or to have a talent that can be developed.
    The question given our current performance has to be is there a complete striker out there that would take us to a higher level than a fully fit Bendtner could ??
    Robbie Keane anyone?

  11. Paul


    Thanks for your well balanced match report, yet again.

    I think it is now obvious to the majority of Gunners that despite our stylish football, we are the 3rd best team in the land. Yes, Wenger should have bought another striker,even on loan until the end of the season, but in all fairness a Rooney or Drogba was not available.

    Being the 3rd best team in the Premiership probably means that we are in the top 8 teams in Europe with Utd and Chelsea in the top 4.

    This really isn’t a disaster especially when our financial situation is currently considerably stronger than that of United.

    So where do we go from here.

    Firstly, we still have every chance of at least being 3rd in the Premiership with supporters fully behind the team.

    Secondly, if we can regain some confidence and get V persie back by end of March/April, another shot at the champions league a la 2006 is not totally out of the question, especially if we avoid our Premiership rivals in the draw.

    At the end of the season, it is clear that Wenger has money to spend. As such, on a financial basis, only Citeh and Chelsea will really be transfer rivals, in the Premiership.

    If key players, which effectively means a top-class goalie, centre back and centre forward can be found and we let a few of our weaker squad members go, we will be in as good a shape as anyone else to make a full-hearted challenge at the Prem next year.

    My fear is that the fans turn on Wenger and he just leaves along with Cesc. In those circumstances, no other coach is likely to be able to get the results required by the fans without spending mega money in the transfer market, which the board will not back.

    At best, we would be fighting for 4th place.

    The fans need to fully back Wenger and his team at all times and hope that the club (Gazidis) can manage Wenger to a position where he begins to buy two or three stars (Vermaalen types not Galacticos) to cement the squad whilst also putting in place a proper succession plan over the medium to long term.

    Despite the last two results, us Gooners really are in a far better position than 98% of other club supporters and the trophies will follow, if we fully support the Club with constructive criticism where required.

  12. PD

    But when are we going to have a fully-fit Bendtner ? When we’re already out of the title race? Oh wait,that’s already happened.
    A shockingly bad piece of mismanagement from Wenger not to get the chequebook out this Jan. We had a great chance of the title if we’d gotten a striker & a keeper in. We didnt & we’re now back to scrapping for 3rd or 4th again.
    I’ve always loved & admired Wenger for not taking the quick-fix solution but does it always have to be the perfect player at the perfect price at the perfect time ? For all Wenger’s brilliance he was won 3 league titles in 14 seasons.That’s not a criticism; it’s a fact. They are very,very hard to win. To throw a very good chance of one away like he did last month is madness. He’s let our club (& indeed himself) down very,very badly.
    And he deserves criticism for that. To suggest otherwise is frankly ridiculous.

  13. john

    im more dissapointed with the continuos individual errors that that occur within the defence and even midfield.
    if errors are made constantly it becomes more than a lack of experience but more a lack of quality and the errors clichy and almunia are making are convincing me more and more that they dont have the required quality to succeed.
    i say we promote both fabianski and traore who even with his faults was improving and was providing accurate, dangerous crosses ( sagna)

  14. Mike

    Hey, i’ve just read a brilliant interview with the BBC sports reporter Jacqui Oatley (the first woman to commentate on Match of the Day) which might interest you all. Its here:

    Highly recommended!

  15. Vinnie

    Like many gooners out there I too am really dissapointed at the way our last two games have gone but, as we are all putting our two bobs worth in, here’s mine.

    Yes, with RVP out for so bloody long a striker really was needed. He had more than the transfer window month to think about it. I think somebody mentioned Robbie Keane, thing is the spuds have a better striker who wants out, Pavlecenko, from what I’ve seen of him he seems quality, much better than Crouch or Keane. I have a few spud mates who all say how good he is and do not understand why he doesn’t get a game. I would even have had horse face till the end of the season.

    Goalkeeper, nuff said!!!

    Midfield enforcer. Seeing as we got Sol back, which I reckon was a good deal why could we have not got Paddy back?

    Defense. Eboue in for Sagna every time for me. Clichy is harder. My first choice will be Gibbs when he is back but for now I think I would go for Traore, he seems a lot better at getting forward and, I don’t think he is any worse at defending.

    So, long term, get rid of Almunia, Bendtner and Denilson, all just not good enough. I firmly believe we need an out and out, proper winger. Have a look at all our league champion teams, all have had ’em from Marwood to Limpar, Overmars and Robbie Pires. Walcott is NOT a winger neither is Rosicky, Nasri or Diaby! Get a midfield enforcer in, please do not say Flamini!! I still think that Paddy and Petit is the best midfield the prem has seen, pace, power and skill, which ran through the whole team, the formula worked.

    Play Ramsey more!!

    Lastly, Wenger has to get the whole team defending not just the defence and get our mind set right, go out with the belief we can beat anybody, including the chavs and manure, I think we lost those games at kick off.

    And fans, GET BEHIND THE TEAM please.

    I could go on but I think you get the idea.

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