6 Things We Learnt About Arsenal on Saturday By “Lanre Ban”

Hello Gunners, hope you are not as heartbroken as I am this morning after our lethargic display and unnecessary draw against Aston Villa at Villa-Park. After the Toffees draw against the Canaries, I was expecting Wenger and his boys to make the most of the situation and pummel the Villians in a bid to leapfrog Everton into fifth place ahead of our contest at Goodison park on Wednesday but it was not to be as a combination of fatigue, complacency, profligacy and poor tactical substitutions 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 League knock-out phase by dropping Sagna, Vermaelen and Wilshere to the bench with Jenkinson, Gibbs and Ramsey duly taking their places. The changes robbed the team of cohesion in the early stages but still had ample chances in the first half to win the game but were all squandered with Koscielny, Ramsey and 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 contented with a point against a relegation team, what happened to our never say die spirit that gave us late goals and more points? It is bewildering to imagine a manager who led a group of boys with determination not to loose throughout a whole season (good or bad pitch, rainy or sunny day and against the 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 that time) for Coquelin who is a defensive midfielder, does that mean Wenger was contented with a point?

Arsenal should learn to finish off their chances when they come whether in the first or second half. Who said a game cannot be put to bed in the first half? Despite 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 the 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 exploits was a drab draw against a side neck deep in relegation.

Catch you all later.

Written By Banjoko Lanre
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