Yes, that’s right, you know it and I know it, we’ve been found out, Bournemouth were the first to work it out and every other lesser team has followed suit with Watford jumping on the bandwagon and speeding away with all three points. I say speeding because they, like Bournemouth, realised that arriving in a huge Double Decker bus and parking it in front of the goal doesn’t really work, far better to arrive in sports cars and take the game to Arsenal at speed.
How do you say “they don’t like it up um” in Italian, whatever the translation is their manager said it before the game and it is true we don’t; our defence looked collectively like headless chickens as Watford took the game to us.
Perhaps a bit of perspective is called for: Watford’s first goal? Can you really point the finger of blame at any one player for that kind of fortunate deflection? As lucky was their second: we had four defenders in the 18 yard box and the ball bounced of Cech and kindly fell to Deany.
Two nil down and you would have thought that we might have raised our game a bit but no we still couldn’t keep hold of the ball. Was I the only one who was thinking at this point that our attack on Saturday was better than our supposed A team that started last night?
We started much better in the second half; the team that we expected prior to the game seemed to finally turn up. Walcott replaced Giroud which helped add pace down the right flank and it didn’t take long before Theo found himself with a clear chance which unfortunately he fired straight at the keeper. This was promising but far more was happening down our left flank with Iwobi skipping past defenders and leaving them for dead. He was looking by far the most dangerous and the most likely to make something happen and true enough he was the one that got us off the mark.
1-2 and there seemed to be plenty of time to get back on terms but then of the many tactical mistakes that were made Wenger made another, he moved Iwobi away from the left wing and we went flat again.
Perez came on and came close with an excellent shot that hit the bar – very unlucky which just about sums our night up.
By a very disappointed LB
……. a few match feelings and player ratings from chas
Walking to the ground, the rain increased in its intensity as was forecast and we knew we were in for one of those nights where the shocking weather would certainly play some part. Arsene must have been saying prayers of thanks to the FA for the 4 game touchline line ban. I presume he was relatively snug in the directors box during the game rather than p*ss-wet through sat on the bench. But having witnessed the abject first half display his Arsenal side produced, his spirit must have been as sodden and bedraggled as Bouldie’s coat.
It still amazes me, as LB says, that we fail every time against the high energy press from supposedly lesser opponents. Collectively the team has to drop 10 yards and give the man on the ball options when in possession. Do we ever do this? No, we do not, so we end up with harum scarum, fearful passing and no support for a beleaguered back four. I realise it can’t be that simple, else it would be sorted out each time, but that is how it seems to a bear of very little brain.
Attacking-wise, we were dreadful in those first 45 minutes. For some reason Iwobi on the right doesn’t work at all and you had to feel sorry for Gabriel finding himself as our main attacking threat from right full back.
Giroud seemed to care not one iota for the team effort. You’d think he had a point to prove after our mobile second string attack looked so effective at the weekend. But no, he lost the ball each time he was challenged from behind. That’s supposed to be your strength, man.
Ramsey failed to provide an outlet for the defence under the strain of the high press, half-heartedly tried to block Kaboul’s free kick (he would have been better just letting it go straight through to Cech), lost possession in the run up to the second goal and then succumbed to a convenient ‘I’d rather be in a hot shower than out here’ injury. All in 20 minutes, well played that man.
Talking about Kaboul’s free kick and I realise that in the ground one might see events in a slightly biased way, but didn’t the ref (whoever he was) seem to give Watford any free kicks he possibly could whenever any of their forwards fell to the ground in a heap, while refusing to judge any like incidents for us by the same standards?
At half-time the stadium was stunned. We’d been truly abysmal and even if there’d been an element of fortune for both of Watford’s goals, they were still deserving of a lead.
Walcott for Giroud at half-time; what had been said in the changing room? Was there an injury or had he been hooked for his dismal display? Perhaps we’ll never find out, however the change was dramatic. It was as if the team had been on strike in the first half and the substitution had resolved the trades dispute.
Suddenly everything moved up several notches. Theo looked dangerous and Iwobi burst into life on the left flank. It only seemed a matter of time before we got one back at least. Excellent work from Sanchez on the right created a difficult chance for Iwobi and we were back in it.
We continued to create chances and then a strange substitution completely unbalanced the side again. Everything was going through Iwobi, so for the life of me, I can’t see how moving him away from the left and into the centre could be seen as a positive move. Yes, that’s hindsight, but although it was excellent to see Lucas on the pitch, why would you move your most potent attacking threat away from the area in which he was causing Watford all the problems. Completely baffled.
Lucas rattling the bar (it’s still bouncing up and down now) was the final nail in Arsenal’s coffin. Just a few inches lower and it goes in off the underside of the bar, as Danny’s did on Saturday. If that rocket had flown in, I’m sure we’d have got the winner too, as team confidence surged.
As it was, fine margins left us with Mustafi’s unbeaten streak in tatters in the week he’d said it would be tough to keep it going all season, but that that was his aim. I’d also been reading in the Evening Standard how Arsene had been agreeing that the fans would not be appeased with yet another top four finish unless we could sustain a title challenge. Hmmmmm.
Player Ratings First Half
Everyone gets a 3 for no other reason than we created 3 off target shots in the whole of the first 45. Oh yeah, Ramsey gets 2 and Giroud 1 for turning up.
Player Ratings Second Half
For the first 25 minutes of the second period, Iwobi gets a 9, everyone else 8.
For the last 20, it all went flat again, so all dropped to a 6.
Apologies to anyone hoping for some sensible player ratings. I haven’t watched any highlights, nor do I intend to. I just needed to vent at such a dire, depressing peformance produced at a time we could least afford it.
Perspective-wise, we only lost 1 point to the chavs, dippers and spuds last night, but it does feel like more. Only 3 at the Bridge will make up for it.