If you want to sugar coat that performance by telling yourself that it is a mini league and one loss doesn’t mean that we are out of the competition, then fill your boots.
But what I saw was a team that was completely outclassed in every department and in the end beaten comfortably by Borrusia’s B team — heaven help us when their key players return.
We can’t even use the excuse that we were missing key players; well, not missing in the sense that they were injured anyway. Let’s face it, the best thing to happen all game was the substitutions.
Özil and Ramsey were not clicking to put it politely and as much as I worried that Wenger would persevere until the bitter end, he changed them on the hour and the difference was instant. Hopefully Wenger will carry this into the weekend.
The case for Ozil being able to pull a rabbit out of the hat is all well and good but when our backs are against the wall we need every single player to pull in the same direction and his inability to add anything to the defensive cause is getting tired.
Ramsey slipped back into his dark days: Borrusia would make a simple pass for a team mate to run onto whereas the Aaron was trying to be too clever; the result being, that most things never came off and we almost always lost possession.
Arteta never comes back from an injury and hits the ground running; he always needs a few games to get himself back up to speed. The problem is that it is taking longer and longer after each time that he is sidelined.
I don’t blame Wenger for fielding the team he did; on paper, it is the best we have but it still isn’t working. Somewhere within that very talented squad there is a beast of a team desperate to get out I just hope Wenger can find it sooner rather than later.
Written very late by a very tired LB
And these thoughts from Shard ………………………..
It’s not often I feel let down by Arsenal. Every once in a while it happens though. This was one of those days. It wasn’t quite the stream of chilli and spicy food fueled, burning excrement that the Liverpool 5-1 defeat of last season was, but it was poo(r) all the same.
Of the players that took to the field, I thought only Szczesny, Gibbs, Kos, Wilshere and Ox could come away with some credit. That’s not to say that they all had good games. Just that they at least put something in the plus column, regardless of their negatives. Alexis tried but was ineffective. Bellerin was ok.
Regarding him playing, the commentators were making a big deal out of it, but I have no problem with that. At some point we have to accept that we are a club that is going to try and bring players through. That means trusting them to play, and on yesterday’s evidence, Bellerin doesn’t look out of his depth.
Raddy made a comment during the game saying ‘do we have a midfield?’ which I thought was accurate. Defensively they were bypassed with ease. Forget Aubemayang getting past Arteta and Mertesacker because of his pace to score his goal, in the first half, there were at least 3 incidents where the midfielders ignored runners and it was only the timely interception of Koscielny that ensured they weren’t through on goal. Arteta and Ramsey were both completely ineffective. Ramsey was invisible throughout the game, playing too high up the pitch. Arteta seemed poor not just physically, but mentally, seeming to not read the game well, and making a hash of simple passes, or just allowing the ball to run expecting Kos to do his dirty work for him. Wilshere was just as bad defensively, though he managed to somehow get back in time to put Mkhitaryan off from scoring in the first half.
Which brings me to the midfield being absent in offense. For a virtual replica of that Mkhitaryan chance, see the cutback by Alexis, which went toward Welbeck but was blocked. The ball fell in virtually the same area as it did for Dortmund’s chance, but we had nobody making a run towards there and Dortmund cleared with ease.
So our midfield was doing absolutely nothing in defense, and barring a few decent dribbles by Wilshere, nothing in offense either. Mesut Ozil. Fantastic player, but absolutely cannot coast through the game and not put in any defensive effort, especially when he’s contributing nothing going forward. Playing on the wing is no excuse, being tired is no excuse, and I think it is not right that he is starting in front of Cazorla and the Ox, and even Rosicky.
We also saw that Welbeck isn’t going to be our saviour. He offers us something we lacked earlier, but the lack of a great first touch, and the missed chances suggest that we will need to be patient. It is something I can live with, because I think the reward will be there.
Seeing Wenger at the end, I could see how much it hurt him. I don’t know if the tactics were wrong, but when more than half your side don’t turn up, I don’t think any tactic is going to work very well. However, he needs to look at his squad, think about the system, and especially think about rotations. That is one aspect of his where I feel the criticisms are correct. He doesn’t use his entire squad enough.
I am not concerned about our overall direction. we are on the up. Comparisons with Dortmund are not really fair in my opinion. I see Dortmund as the Arsenal of the late 90s. Battling one major domestic opponent, losing key players to richer clubs, but still finding good players to maintain consistency, their style of play and continue building up. This current Arsenal team have been less settled and are still a little short of being the end product to then maintain. We are a little behind them on the team building curve.
What I do have concerns about is this season. On paper we are stronger than last season and looking to build on our wonderful FA Cup triumph. But I worry that this team has become so concerned with taking the next step that they might have forgotten what got them where they are. There was no team effort, no fight yesterday.
Individual players like Alexis and Wilshere kept trying in their own way, but there was none of that collective spirit that we saw last season and identified as the reason for our success. It seems like we’ll play well for a bit and then assume that the rest will just follow. A hard fought win against Crystal Palace. Tough games against Besiktas, Everton and then Besiktas again, and we seemed to think we just have to show up against Leicester. Slightly unlucky to draw against City after playing very well, and we go back to being useless the next game vs Dortmund. This makes me more concerned than any lack of signings, or playing youngsters. For the first time, I am worried about our entire season. It is up to our players to show us that this sort of performance is not part of a pattern. If it is, I fear that times will get worse before they get better.
Written by Shard