Hello Gunners, hope you are not as heartbroken as I am this morning after our┬álethargic display and unnecessary draw against Aston Villa at Villa-Park. After the┬áToffees draw against the Canaries, I was expecting Wenger and his boys to make┬áthe most of the situation and pummel the Villians in a bid to leapfrog Everton┬áinto fifth place ahead of our contest at Goodison park on Wednesday but it was┬ánot to be as a combination of fatigue, complacency, profligacy and poor tactical┬ásubstitutions on our part coupled with determination and stout defensive display
on VillaÔÇÖs part ensured we left with a point and our chance of leapfrogging┬áEverton would now be premised on us winning at Goodison Park on Wednesday┬ábut that wouldnÔÇÖt be a mean feat albeit not impossible.
Wenger tinkered with the squad that ensured qualification for the Champions┬áLeague knock-out phase by dropping Sagna, Vermaelen and Wilshere to the┬ábench with Jenkinson, Gibbs and Ramsey duly taking their places. The changes┬árobbed the team of cohesion in the early stages but still had ample chances in┬áthe first half to win the game but were all squandered with Koscielny, Ramsey┬áand Chamberlain been the worst culprits.
While mourning the dropped points, some things became obvious and I would┬álike to share them.┬áThe team lacked creativity. In the absence of the dropped Wilshere, the Arsenal┬ámidfield lacked creativity despite the presence of Arteta and Cazorla and this┬ámeant ample chances werenÔÇÖt created for the forward line. Wilshere just came┬áback from a long term injury and we cannot expect him to play all the games, he┬ámust be rested for some matches but does that mean in WilshereÔÇÖs absence, our┬ámidfield also goes to sleep? This is totally unacceptable, Wilshere is a fantastic┬áplayer but our success shouldnÔÇÖt be premised on him playing. We need someone┬áthat can fill the void perfectly.
Ramsey cannot do it albeit he gave an improved┬áperformance yesterday but his profligacy in front of goal robbed him of the┬áaccolades his performance deserved. Good thing that Rosicky is back but owing┬áto his fitness troubles, the club cannot rely on him totally. Wenger needs to keep┬áan eye on a creative midfielder ahead of the January transfer window. As for me, a┬ácreative midfielder is more important than a striker. No matter how prolific a┬ástriker is, he can only score from chances created. ArsenalÔÇÖs midfield is too┬álightweight both in numbers and talents owing to injuries and abilities.
Chamberlain isnÔÇÖt WalcottÔÇÖs grade just yet. Just when people thought the Ox was┬áthe next big thing, yesterdayÔÇÖs game proved again that he is still far from been┬áthe finished article. His game is too childish and predictable. He drifts more to┬ácentral midfield than to attacking positions and doesnÔÇÖt make crosses until he┬áreaches the goal line. His control on saturday was awful! If we let go of Walcott with┬áthe thought that we have a ready-made replacement in his English compatriot,┬áwe are only deluding ourselves. He played as a winger yesterday but couldnÔÇÖt get┬áone shot on target in his 70 minutes appearance? So far this season, Walcott is┬ástill our best winger albeit he has been craving for a central role. He not only┬áscores, he has also created good number of assists.
Giroud is as important to our attack as Mertesacker is to our defence. The┬áFrenchman was one of the shinning lights in the teamÔÇÖs gloomy display┬áyesterday. He ran and was everywhere fighting for the ball. I was surprised when
Wenger took him off for guess who? Coquelin. When did Wenger become┬ácontented with a point against a relegation team, what happened to our never┬ásay die spirit that gave us late goals and more points? It is bewildering to┬áimagine a manager who led a group of boys with determination not to loose┬áthroughout a whole season (good or bad pitch, rainy or sunny day and against┬áthe high and mighty) now settling for a draw against relegation threatened Villa.
How else do you explain the withdrawal of Giroud (the only striker on the pitch at┬áthat time) for Coquelin who is a defensive midfielder, does that mean Wenger┬áwas contented with a point?
Arsenal should learn to finish off their chances when they come whether in the┬áfirst or second half. Who said a game cannot be put to bed in the first half?┬áDespite been below par, Arsenal could have won the game comfortably in the
first half if Koscielny and Ramsey had taken the chances that came begging. In┬áthe second half, even half chances were very hard to come by.
I am not going to┬áabsolve Koscielny of blame for his catastrophic miss in the first half all because┬áhe is a defender. No. if he knew he was a defender and didnÔÇÖt have the composure┬áand finish of a striker, why was he occupying the role of one from an open play? If┬áhe had not galloped forward like a Henry in his prime, a natural attacker could┬áhave been there to tuck home that chance. Am even surprised that after doing┬áthe hardest part of the job dislodging the defender, he couldnÔÇÖt get the┬ácomposure to steer the ball into an unguarded net.
Still on Koscielny, he must be told to discipline his game. He is a center-back and┬ánot a center forward. Why would he leave his main constituency to occupy┬ásomeone elseÔÇÖs in an open play when he knew his partner and the defensive┬ámidfielder were not the quickest around? It is abominable to find a defensive┬ámidfielder in that position not to talk of a center back. I loved what the players┬ádid when he attempted the showboating again, they simply dallied on the ball┬áand he looked stupid and silly.
Finally, this season, Arsenal are having serious issues beating teams in the lower┬árung of the table. Out of the 13 Premier League games played so far this season,┬á8 have been against the smaller sides with the Gunners managing victory over┬ájust 3, loosing to 1 and bagging 4 draws. That isnÔÇÖt good enough, compared to┬áthe stats of the other top teams. Arsenal must learn to approach games against┬áthes smaller teams with the same seriousness they show against the top teams.
It is annoying to know that the next Premier League fixture after the derby┬áexploits was a drab draw against a side neck deep in relegation.
Catch you all later.
Written By Banjoko Lanre
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