An interesting question yesterday, as to if not Arsene, what is happening in the last 10 weeks.
Now it’s all tended to blur as one bad run (which it is) so I went back and looked at our games since the new year and just my impression of them.
Newcastle (H) Unmemorable except I think a defender scored.
Sunderland (FA Cup) Again, I can’t remember. Routine victory.
Liverpool (A) Frustrating to concede late. Felt at the time that might be huge
Stoke (A) Refereed in a manner that was harmful to us (not big decisions, just how it was refereed)
Chelsea (H) Not a very good performance, but the red card changed everything . A handball penalty appeal from us prior to that was not shown on replay on TV.
Burnley(FA Cup) Chambers goal is what I remember.
Southampton (H) Once again, I have to bring up the referee. Lee Mason as I recall. It was at this point that I believed we wouldn’t win the league. The other takeaway from this game was that we didn’t take our numerous chances. Which isn’t new.
Bournemouth (A) A decent performance and good win.
Leicester (H) Poor refereeing first half. Crowd up for it. Referee decided to play fair second half, we get a stoppage time winner.
Hull (Fa Cup) Decent performance, but not enough attacking efficiency. Again.
Barcelona (H) Great job sticking to the script for 70 minutes. Before then getting overambitious and lazy, and then further throwing it away with Per and Flamini’s cockup.
ManU (A) A totally insipid performance, except weirdly, the first 10 minutes or so.
Swansea (H) A goal up. A referee decision allows a breakaway which we concede from (poor defending) and the crowd turn on the players, moaning and grumbling every pass backwards, players went into their shell, and gave up the game. Poor second half performance.
Tottenham (A) Just the game to get some fire going. Did well to soak up 30 mins of pressure. Then opened them up to score. Could have had another. Coq’s stupid slide tackle gave them the initiative. Then panic and two silly goals conceded. Then a fightback, looking the better team for the last 20 minutes. Ref affected the match with no red card for a Spurs player. Still had a chance to win at the end.
Hull (FA Cup replay) 4-0 Ok performance, some good goals.
Watford (FA Cup) Poor defending on both goals, poor finishing, and a marginal offside call. Deserved loss though. Despite the (too) late fightback.
So, I think in the early part of the year we were just about at the end of having to deal with so many injuries. Remember Coquelin, Cazorla, Alexis, and Welbeck were all out. We’d coped for a long period, but it was starting to tell. We’ve also had a fair few games where referees have negatively impacted us. This is also a narrative of our season that needs to be considered.
For the rest, it has been low confidence, some terrible defending, especially recently, and mostly, a lack of finishing that is the problem.
To me, the defending on transitions is now a worry. I have considered it after some other blogs brought it up as a managerial weakness and it seems that is a legitimate concern (though everyone is vulnerable to the counter to some extent) But in terms of attacking (the tradeoff with the defense I suppose), the manager’s setup is doing its job. Creating chances.
We’re I think still the best at that, and it isn’t all because of Ozil either. We’re just not scoring them. In that, I find it hard to blame the manager. Except of course, he (and I) was wrong in that Alexis, Walcott and the Ox were going to add enough goals to us. In fact they’ve all regressed this season. Is that on the manager? Only in a notional sense for me. It’s on the individual players there.
The other thing is, I think the loss of Santi (and an absence of Wilshere and Rosicky) makes it harder for us to control games now. We rarely keep control of the game with our possession and passing. We need better ball players in the middle because we aren’t efficient in either our defending or our scoring to play a great counter attacking game. We need better ball players, and Elneny seems like a step in the right direction.
So, things that are on the manager. Not buying a striker. Poor defending.
Things that are not in the managers control. Referees. Injuries (I know the argument exists that it’s because of him, but he and the club have done everything to get it to change)
Things that the manager is doing well. Having a system that despite the injuries is helping us create chances.
I think our weaknesses and failings are highlighted more than our achievements which gives the impression that we’re always on the edge of crisis. Is this a crisis?
Not really, no. But it’s just that we now expect to rise up further, and since all the other big clubs have fallen off (Why?) this is seen like a chance that we’re blowing it.
Plus we’re dealing with a history of a negative media campaign going back to 2007 when the words trophy drought were first coined.
Lastly, the season still isn’t over. 9 league games is a lot of games. We’ll see how it goes.