“Really? Well, that’s vintage Arsenal.”

Those were the exact words from Mrs Lower when I came home last night and she asked me what the score was (she’s not into this football thing you see, and at times like this, I can’t say I blame her).

It was indeed vintage poor defending that got us into another fine mess, and vintage park-on-the-edge-of-the-area, out-of-ideas stuff that made for a second half of infuriating frustration.

Then in a year of handbrakes on and being too much in the wanting zone came There Wasn’t Enough Petrol in the Tank.

It would certainly explain our second half performance, which was as flat as a pancake. Instead of fizzing with energy and guile and determination – which we had done when we found ourselves two goals down after six minutes in the first half – we ran worryingly out of steam.

Wigan, spurred on by a miniscule band of fans – easily the smallest away section I have ever seen at the Emirates, let’s call it an away slice – were absolutely terrific though. If you take away the persistent time-wasting and the lighter-than-air toppling to the ground, which the referee largely either let go until it was too late, or fell for, they were a menace all night. They caused us constant problems defensively, where without Koscielny and Gibbs – 50% of our first choice back four – we looked ragged.

For the first goal we were well and truly suckered on the counter following a misplaced Sagna header. The second looked to me like Szczesny could have done better, but equally true, we were down to ten men as Arteta had hobbled off. Either way, it was a disastrous start.

The rest of the half was as you’d expect – Arsenal wounded and furious. Benny had two excellent headers acrobatically saved, Vermaelen scored a lovely header and it looked for all the world, if we could keep it up, that the game could yet be salvaged.

That we couldn’t keep it up and in fact fizzled out at such an important time is a cause for worry. “We didn’t see anyone who could make a difference”, said Wenger after the game, “…We have given a lot over the past two or three months and we were not sharp. Is it mental or physical? It is hard to know why.”

I think we missed the invention and calm of Arteta more than we think, and the worry is that we might now be missing that for the rest of the season – as indeed, it has been confirmed, we will be missing Wilshere.

That’s now ten league defeats – a tally that makes it slightly miraculous we are chasing third at all. I’m not sure we could have timed it worse, throwing the door for third and fourth open again once more rather than slamming it shut.

But again, well done Wigan – it was a well deserved win and we were, in the end, well beaten.

And who’s next? Chelsea at home and our old friends Stoke away.

Time to wheel out Djourou online for some damage limitation.


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

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    RvP is finished for the season, he’s completely out of energy/sharpness – one goal in 6 games. And that a penalty. Why does he have to play every 90 minutes ? Wolves away & Blackburn at home in particular were ridiculous decisions.
    3rd is still a strong possibility. But unfortunately so is 4th, 5th & 6th……I just want this season to be over. Sick of it.  Sick of Arsene looking smug only for us to fall again, sick of the same old rubbish being spouted by all on arsenal.com
    sick of AKBs being fooled by a few decent results & talking about Arsene being proved right & lashing out at anyone who has the temerity to have an alternative opintion…sick of seeing Chamakh, Park as our only striking alternatiaves, sick of no alternative to Song……sick of hearing ‘updates’ on Diaby (here’s the thing Arsene….a) he’s always injured but more importantly b) he isn’t very good, get over it)….blah blah blah….how many times have we been here ???
    Please just let it be over & we’ve sneaked into 3rd & someone at the club has had the balls to tell Arsene to sort things out or walk away. This cannot continue any longer.  What was it Einstein said about insanity ?????

  2. Anonymous

    Jekyll and Hyde it does appear on the surface but is it really. Beyond our first choice 11 where is the rotation/trust in the squad? We huffed and puffed until about the 55th minute yesterday but I just saw so many tired minds (rather than bodies) after playing week after week. I still don’t know why we didn’t use any width in the 2nd half as that was causing them issues in the first. Sagna had one of those days – and Moses was the best on the park.

    Above and beyond everything look at our goals against this season. We have to cut that by at least 15 if we want to move to the next level that season – all the pressure will be to get cover up front this summer but I question if our problems remain at the back. I like Vermaelen (a lot) but he’s not a rock to build your back line around….same for Song…he drifts upfield too much. We have to learn the art of keeping it tight for at least 45 mins, it’s not as pretty to watch but we won’t concede 43 goals (with 4 to play!) again.

     This is our 5th straight year that goals against has increased…it all starts with defending.

  3. Anonymous

    Theclashblog, I get your point but I would say that a lot of it is also related to the attacking side. If you play for a team near the bottom & you see a top side keep missing chances against you, you think you have a hope & try harder. e.g. Fulham away. We dominated 1st half & went in only 1-0 up. MU went down & got 3 before half-time despite being less dominant as us. As a result Fulham gave up & so MU’s defenders had nothing to do to keep a clean sheet whereas ours had a tough 45 mins & end up not coping. Similarly, Blackburn away, Wolves at home, QPR away……..we shpuld have been out of sight in each of those games…

    I would also argue that defending is not just for defenders. Do you see any wide player in our squad who tracks back as much as Valencia ???

    I totally agree about Song though. But then every time he gets as assist, we see something on arsenal.com talking him up as a creative player so why would he concentrate on what his job should be ???

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