Match report: One slump or two?

Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal

And so, as feared, the sleep-slump to disaster continues. I can’t see this one ending well.

You don’t have to scour the Arsenal online diaspora for too long to sense as much despondency, verging on militancy, as you will have ever seen. Yesterday’s defeat was entirely predictable, and followed a well-trodden formula. Loads of possession, not enough chances taken, undone by moments of weakness at the back, the team populated by a handful of passengers. We didn’t play disastrously at all – their keeper was named man of the match – but we did play like a team feeling sorry for itself.

I do worry though. Wenger drums on and on about the mental strength of this team, but I’ve long sensed these are rallying calls for the benefit of the players as much as for anyone. What I see is a team that loses a game or a player – or usually in the case of Arsenal, both at the same time – and loses its way. The losing of the way can even happen mid-game – viz Newcastle, Spuds etc.

Man Utd lose two in a row, then grind out a result. We lose one game and our form flies out the window. What are they listening to in the dressing room – Leonard Cohen?

The unpalatable truth is that this side, for all its aesthetic beauty and occasional flashes of glorious form, is making the same mistakes as it ever did.

Moan moan moan. But we’re second, I hear you cry, and chasing the title. It’s true, we are in a strong position, it’s just that our team is not currently strong. And as for the title – well again, based on what I see at the moment, I’d say it’s a pipe dream. With half our first team out and a black dog day that’s gone on for weeks, from where are we going to summon up a turnaround in form sufficient to pull it off?

We are not helped by our one-in, two-out injury list. Szczesny, Vermaelen, Song, Fabregas, Walcott and Djourou represent 6/11 of our best side. In the cases of Vermaelen and Fabregas, they possess a drive and will to win that we have no replacement for.

In their place we rely on, amongst others, Denilson and Diaby, two midfielders who have completely lost their way. When both went off against Sunderland, we improved. When both went off yesterday against Utd, we improved again. We can barely afford to carry one of these, but carrying both is a recipe for disaster. Nursing them both through developmental crises is very altruistic but where is it getting us? Yesterday, Gibbs and Arshavin also had bad days at the office. Even with so many off colour, we did create chances – we just couldn’t take them.

So yes, I’m gloomy, and for once, I’m looking forward to a week off. There are only so many miserable blogs I can write and, I suspect, only so many you can read.

I’m sure I’ll cheer up. There is still plenty to play for. It’s at times like this I need to lean more on the online shoulder of Goodplaya. A more relentless optimist you will not see. I wish I shared it – but I don’t.


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

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Jeff

    You were holding out ridiculous amounts of optimism around this time last year for a title challenge, when we were, as I vaguely recall, further back and behind two sides.

    A couple league victories, and the optimism for this title challenge will come flooding back.

    I, myself, can never get too much of a well-articulated moan. In this case, though, it feels like we’ve hit bottom, and are back on the way up, with what I hope is a sustainable recovery of form. The performance in Barcelona was an abomination, and the first half yesterday was awful to watch, but I thought I saw a little spirit in the second half yesterday.

  2. Jeff

    So, final thoughts on Djourous’s season? I was always half suspecting him to be found out, but it never happened. Given that, how highly do we rate him? Not enough time to judge, I say. While he was in there, the results were much, much better, and it’s hard to remember him putting a foot wrong, but I would need to see a long run (think two or three seasons) before I’d be convinced that he’s a great defender.

  3. East Lower

    I think Djourou has come of age. Has looked our best centre half.

  4. Anonymous

    For many, the only thing that is going to take the heat off Arsene and the passengers in the squad is winning the league. If we don’t manage that then some serious choices about personnel will be required. And even if we do win it, we still need to think seriously about clearing out the dead wood and strengthening the squad, otherwise players like Nasri will head for the exits.

  5. East Lower

    I’ll agree we were spirited in the second half, particularly when Diaby and Denilson went off. We need Fabregas, Walcott etc back asap. And we need a big ten games from Squillaci and Koscielny.

  6. Anonymous

    every true arsenal fan knows that the squad, apart from maybe 6 players are`nt good enough . we keep showng faith , not wanting to accept what is in front of our eyes , that if we were to put 10 players on the transfer market only a handfull of premier league sides would take any interest . we are weak when it matters and have no plan b c or d to change or rescue a match . We haven`t won jack in years so what do we do ? have a clear out ? buy quality in the window ? No ! we give the entire squad a pay rise ! we need a change of direction , and soon !

  7. East Lower

    Agree with most of that but I do think there’d be plenty of interest. As for the new contracts given – this is financial common sense, for the most part. Better to get a few million or more for a player on a longish deal than letting him leave on a free.

  8. Anonymous

    We all know that the majority of the squad are average at best . Diaby , Denilson , Gibbs , fat lazy Arharvin , Squillaci , Rosicky, Chamack. most of the time Clichy ,” I`m the greatest” Bentner . so what does Wenger do ? have a clear out ? buy quality ? No ! he gives them all a pay rise and puts us in the red . how i wish for the Graham days . it was like a comfort blanket , turning up , shutting up shop . kicking a few assses , and winning 1 0 . bring it back i say

  9. Anonymous

    the thing is east lower we are dealing with a mans pride . its his baby and with the power he wields at the club there`s little chance of change . but how long do we wait ? every man . journo , pundit and arm chair critic knew we needed to buy a central defender in jan to see us through and maybe give us an edge , but No! ” we have enough players , How do I keep every body happy ? ” Fuck that !and keep the fans happy by winning something

  10. Tim Merrick

    I hate having to blame injuries…I really do…but seriously if Man U were minus Vidic all season do you really think they’d be top?

    Cohen gag was great…

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