Time to move on ……..

Thursday morning and the inquest into Arsenal’s latest big match disappointment rumbles on. Arsenal fans the world over are rightly disappointed that we have now gone 11 games without victory against either United or Chelsea. Whilst I find it difficult to say that you can take positives from any defeat, I do think it’s worth noting that we didn’t lose in the same manner as we have in many of those 11 games. This was a game, bad pitch or otherwise, that saw an alarmingly low technical level from both sides. United came away victorious but they did not outclass or outplay as. There is a big difference between disappointment and humiliation.

The reasons given for this defeat have been many although none seem to hit the nail on the head.  There have been many criticisms of Clichy, criticisms which I believe are largely valid. There is no doubt that he could have closed Nani down quicker for the goal however, it should also be remembered that he did a lot of good work, on his own, against one of the Premierships best performers. Certain voices have criticised the whole defence, argued that player for player they are not good enough. Even Sagna has come in for stick in some quarters. This seems to be a knee jerk reaction. Whilst I would have preferred Djourou to Koscielny, he and Squillaci actually did well against Rooney. None of the chances we gave away, only 2 good ones to my memory, were the fault of the back four.

Alex Song has come in for his usual criticism. It seems to be received wisdom these days that he, in keeping with our ethos, goes forward too much. This clearly was not the case for him or the rest of the side on Monday. Song joined in when possible but basically stayed at home and, as a result, limited United’s opportunities. In post match anger and disappointment I expressed the view that we should be more circumspect in these games. It seems that tactically, we had tried to be just this. Take Samir Nasri’s comments post match:

“In the first half, we sat back and waited for them a bit. We didn’t want to push too high up, because they always find each other in space, whether it’s Park or Wayne Rooney playing on his own up front.

“We wanted to sit back and wait for them and we held out well until we conceded the goal four minutes from half-time.

So, on reflection then, we were actually set up ok tactically. We didn’t try to blow them away and then get caught on the break which has led to our undoing in so many games in recent years. Effectively we were beaten by a fortunate goal. Without the deflection it would not have found Park’s head and we would most likely have gone in 0-0 at half time. A 0-0 draw would have seen a different response from the media and fans a like. As it stands, we are rueing defeat by a very slim margin.

Whilst I don’t think we should all just smile and get on with it we should also try to look forward rather than back. This defeat was not symptomatic of our usual perceived short comings. At worst, we lacked the invention and creative spark to create an opening but, on balance, it’s not like United carved us open too often either. Defeats are always painful but we must keep our heads, as a set of fans and a club in general. This defeat was not men against boys, it was the sort of result that happens in big games. This may sound strange but had we not been burdened by this awful record we would not be picking over the bones of this defeat with quite so much fervour. Unfortunately, we do have this awful recent record and people are understandably disappointed.

I would argue that we can now put to bed the idea that we don’t have anyone physical enough to stand up to opponents or that we aren’t committed enough. We were just as physical as them and that is not where the game was lost. As I’ve already written, this defeat also wasn’t the direct result of a bad goalkeeper or a fragile defence. I can’t argue that the result could have just as easily been 1-0 to us as we offered very little going forward but, we do have gifted forwards so it’s not unreasonable to claim that on another day we might have done better. The main factor we lack as a team is self belief. The players appear nervous and, in this pivotal season, so do the fans. We need a good result in one of these games soon, to prove that we can do it and the harbingers of doom are not correct. In truth, we were far closer to a positive result here than we have been for some time. What better Christmas present than a home win against Chelsea? In that game we must forget what’s gone before and show togetherness, players and fans alike.

Smith14

27 Responses to Time to move on ……..

  1. Rohan says:

    Great great article. 😀

  2. Wonderman says:

    Historically Old trafford has never been a treasure chest for the gunners ( I still painfully remember the 6-1 drubbing). Had we managed more positive results against West Brom, Newcastle and Sp*rs the Man U game would have a different complexion. The facts are….
    * IF Man U win their game in hand ( and that is not certain) they would be 5 points ahead of us. Exactly the same distance we were from Chelsea after 17 games
    * We have genuine competition for places all over the park for the first time in ages

    * We have played all of the other top teams away from home

    * We have shown that we can play without Cesc

    It feels gloomy at the moment, but we are IN the title race and even though many claim not to be able to see evidence of it we need to support our team as if we BELIEVE !!!! what’s the worse that can happen if you do ?

  3. London says:

    A giant of a post….superb.

  4. Rasp says:

    Morning,

    Thanks for another excellent read Smith14.

    We’ve become used to Arsenal seasons being a bit of a rollercoasters these last few seasons and I expect this one to be different in only one way…. the squad will become stronger as the season progresses and instead of falling away t the end of the season I expect us to make a surge for the title.

  5. Big Raddy says:

    Good read Smith. And I agree that we have to stay positive in a season where nothing seems to be going as expected.e.g. How does a team as ordinary as this MU side remain undefeated coming up to Xmas?

  6. Billboy says:

    I mostly agree with you. However, I wonder if you are interpreting the word “physical” as meaning committing fouls. We gave away more free kicks than MU and picked up more yellow cards (I admit some of that is down to the worst ref in the EPL). We didn’t make anywhere near enough fair, ball- winning challenges. We just don’t have anyone capable of that and haven’t had since Flamini went.

  7. Smith14 says:

    Billyboy,

    I take your point although I think by physical I may have meant that we showed an ability to compete and not be bullied. We could certainly work on clean ball winning tackles a bit more but it has been an improvement this season that we are more aggressive.

    It’s perhaps a cynical way to look at it, and I’d obviously rather possesion winning tackles, but sometimes disruptinig the opponent is worthwhile if not altogether sportsmanlike.

  8. Red Arse says:

    Smithy, I think Billboy has a point.

    Fouling and being physical are two different things. Referee aside, we did commit more fouls than Manu, but we were also brushed off the ball far too often as well. Their closing down was, as usual, a well rehearsed tactic against us. And it works.

    Other than that, a very well written and thoughtful analysis. thank you. 🙂

  9. Graham from London says:

    Great post but I think we discount Man U for playing the way they did. It was close game only given the fact that they did not come out and really give it the beans. They had more gears to go thru if they wanted, can’t say the same for us. Also they can play more than one way, we are just a Plan A Wenger philosophy, nothing more.

  10. Smith14 says:

    Graham,

    I agree completely that we didn’t look like we had a lot to offer on Monday, especially going forward. We looked really flat. However, I do think that if we’d got to half time 0-0, as I think Nasri’s comments suggest was the aim, United would have had to come out and we’d have had more space to exploit. As it stood we got the wrong end of a fortunate goal and had a mountain to climb. We’re not the only team that this has happened to.

  11. RockyLives says:

    Smithy, that’s far and away the best piece I have read about the ManU game.
    Basically what you seem to be saying is “let’s get some perspective” and I wholeheartedly agree with that.

  12. SharkeySure says:

    Thats a masterpiece there Smithy !!!

    I never get quite get the idea that if Parks’ header goes in we’re staring into the abyss, and if it hits the post or goes wide then we’re title favourites !!

    Well said Wonderman…top comment.

  13. Statics says:

    I firmly believe that this season is the last stage of the rebuilding period, and most of us agree that the things that are missing in this team is leadership, self belief, and consistency.. and those thing come with experience and age..

  14. RockyLives says:

    The only think I disagreed with in all of Smithy’s post was this: “I can’t argue that the result could have just as easily been 1-0 to us as we offered very little going forward.”
    I don’t want to over labour the point (because we weren’t very good in an attacking sense) but they had about four decent chances and we had three. If Chamakh had managed to turn in the deflected Nasri shot, or if Theo had shown as much composure right at the end as he did against Partizan, we could have been looking at a 1-1. (Or a 1-0 to us if Park’s effort had missed).
    Basically, the game was played out by two good teams who were below their best, who limited each other’s goal chances and who stifled each other’s play. We were as effective as the Mancs at doing that apart from the one moment that cost us the game.

  15. MickyDidIt89 says:

    There was a Rolls Canardly? Oh jeepers.

  16. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Eexcellent post Smith14. Thanks.

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Keep up the great chatter everyone. It is read and much appreciated by those in the shadows with too much work!
    .
    RA,
    Loved the “Work Station” Line

  18. Red Arse says:

    Micky, thanks for the compliment, always appreciated sir! 🙂

    Rocky,

    Message from Cloud Cuckoo Land:

    Of course if Shrek had scored that penalty it would have been 2:0 to the devil team! We can’t rewrite history, it is what it is!

    Oh, and I have now been thrown out of CCL. Boo! 😦

  19. Statics says:

    by the way congrats to Nasri on winning the French Footballer of the year award.

  20. California Gooner says:

    I guess I can’t abide by this. This squad oozes talent. We started the season really, really well with Four new players in the line-up and our big three out. Yes, we slipped up a few times, but what was amazing was how well we were doing despite missing players who in past years were absolutely key. From there, I was hoping we would kick on and gain some consistency and become a real juggernaut as Cesc and RVP and Theo returned to health. So, I really wanted to beat ManU, or at least give them a scare. I don’t think we did either. The fact is, we avoided humiliation but were never the least bit threatening in attack. A few years ago (2007-8, not 04-05!), even last year in the same fixture, our midfield would play them off the park.

    Of course it’s time to move on, but I am also getting the sense that we are not as good as I thought or hoped we were after the first 10 games. So, perhaps my expectations were a bit higher than yours.

    Finally, I really wonder what Koscielny has to do to get respect. He absolutely owned Wayne Rooney. He is almost infallible in one-on-ones. Why not play him with Djourou rather than seeing them as direct substitutes?

  21. Mike says:

    Nice post Smith14.

    While I agree with most of the points you made, I’d have to say you might be a little too nice when it comes to performances of Squillaci and Koscielny. Though in all honesty, Manchester didn’t produce many quality chances because our defensive work was good, I still feel it wasn’t good enough. How many times did Manchester fans get nervous or anxious when we attacked their defense? How many times did we feel the same about their attacks? I’d say I was more worried about them then they were worried about us. Really, the defense isn’t inspiring that much confidence in the team, which in turn makes us not feel like we can attack with true vigor.

    Also, I’d like to point out Evra is still trying to talk some smack, but if I remember correctly, he was rolling around on the ground when our little Jack caught him in the first half. I swear he looked like he was going to cry. Didn’t know the “men” were so soft?

  22. RockyLives says:

    Redders, hope is well in CC Land (I’m not resident there but have visited often).
    Sorry to have not been able to engage much this past couple of days – my employers have had the temerity to actually make me work for a change.

    But I must respond to your comment about rewriting history. Always remember, history is written by the victors. So at the end of the season, when we are champions, our 1-0 loss at OT will be a valiant near-thing.

  23. SharkeySure says:

    Calif, well said about Koscielny and the respect he deserves. He is the absolute master of the one on one, and he absolutely battered and bruised Rooney on MOn nite. He was all over him like a cheap suit, as we say in the UK

    My only concern is that both him and Djourou both like to play on the front foot and aggressively attack everything. Perhaps thats why Squillaci plays so much.

    Funny thing is that if thats the case why would Arsene buy Kozzer knowing he already has Tommmy V as an aggressive CB..?? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see

  24. RockyLives says:

    Does anyone else (apart from me 😦 ) think Kozzer could be a brilliant DM?

  25. SharkeySure says:

    I think there’s a massive difference playing DM for us and doing the same job for many other sides.

    Our DM prob spend more time on the ball than at any other club, as we generally hace os much possesion both home and away.

    Big difference between passing well with everything in front of you and trying to do the same thing when you can be closed down from any direction.

    Being brave enough to still want the ball with your back to the opposition is another tough ask.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    There may be a place for 3 CB’s on occasion. When TV returns he could play as an old fashioned sweeper, or even FB pushing Gibbs/Clichy into midfield.

    But in answer to your question RL. ….. perhaps with the right training. Kos has fine ball control and awareness

  27. Rasp says:

    New post ……

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