Monday, 24 November 2014

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United: it's Arsenal

As Valencia's deflected shot found the bottom corner I stared at the screen in disbelief. The sense of unreality swept over me. For a good while longer than a few seconds I've been (fruitlessly) trying to persuade myself that this wasn't happening. This could not be happening. Simply because everything about this goal was so unjust. So underserved. So much against the run of play. Even in my worst nightmares I couldn't have envisaged that scenario.

Except that I could. It was oh so predictable. Some of you (the not so seasoned supporters of Arsenal FC) would ask how such a farce could be predictable. Who could have thought that Fellaini would not be flagged offside when he clearly was offside, that it can lead to a collision between Gibbs and Szczesny, which would leave both out of the picture? The veterans would have the answer to that question. They had it long before the game. They probably had it for ten years. Cause it's Arsenal.

We poured men forward. Fuelled by the injustice of what just happened, enraged at the fact we were losing to the weakest United side in years. At home. I've watched Arsenal pile up the pressure with a sinking feeling. I knew what would come next. Cause it's Arsenal.

When a completely exhausted and run-into-the-ground Alexis misplaced a pass on the edge of the box I've already been prepared for the next act of this tragedy. Di Maria and Rooney stormed up the pitch and who was there to meet them? Monreal. Mertesacker, meanwhile, was caught some 30 yards higher up the pitch. So much for the talk of keeping your shape for 90 minutes. Even Arsene was baffled by this:

"I don’t know why we had nobody at the back at all – you could see straight away that giving a two against one in your own half means you will be punished against these players".

And of course we were punished. How could we not have been? Di Maria sent Rooney clear and for all his misses for England he tucked this one away. Cause it's Arsenal.

It could have been 3-0 just minutes after, when exactly the same mistake lead to a one-on-one. Di Maria vs Martinez. Somehow, miraculously, the Argentine's chip bobbled wide.

Oh, didn't I say? Gibbs's collision with Szczesny was unfortunate in more ways than one. Apart from the very obvious consequence, we now have an injured Wojciech. He limped off the pitch holding his back and is a big doubt for Dortmund in midweek.

We pulled one back through a magnificent strike from Giroud (yes the Frenchman made his comeback with a bang), but it was about the only positive thing we can carry out of the game. Welbeck was so obsessed with scoring against his old team that he missed a couple of good opportunities, Wilshere failed to open the scoring early on and Ramsey, well... not his best game.

So it strikes me as rather offensive when Wenger says there are a lot of positives to take from this defeat. Is that a positive that Sanchez and Welbeck failed to rip apart McNair, Blackett and Smalling as they should have done? Is that a positive that Wilshere and Ramsey failed to make quick work of Fellaini and Carrick? Is that a positive we've conceded from the first shot on target, when only Di Maria looked more or less the part up front?

So what if De Gea is MoM? He made two good saves, that's all. Despite dominating possession we didn't create that much. Against the most dysfunctional United side in years. Leicester scored five against them. We scored a late consolation goal. But of course. Cause it's Arsenal.

I don't know where do we go from here. This team is shorn of confidence, lacks any kind of cohesion and stability and performs far worse than a sum of its parts might suggest. And now we've lost to injury one of the few players who could grab Arsenal by the scruff of the neck and turn the game around. Cause as bad as Wilshere's decision-making was yesterday, he at least created chances. He made things happen. Cazorla didn't. Rosicky would have been a far better replacement in my opinion, but Wenger decided otherwise.

This season is once again becoming very long and painful and words cannot describe how tired I'm to witness Arsenal slump towards mid-table to then mount a top-four challenge. I badly want this to change, but for now I cannot see where this change might come from.

Do we sack Wenger right away? Hypothetically speaking of course, cause we all know this won't happen. OK, we can, the Frenchman seriously underperforms, but who do we replace him with? Do you know any world-class manager who is available right now?

We should, somehow, find a way out of this mess. With Arsene Wenger. We'll get the chance to judge him at the end of the season, for now he's our only hope of getting into the top four. He has loads of experience here.

We can slightly change the personnel in January and that's exactly what we should do. We should buy a proper DM, two CBs and let Flamini go. Depending on whether we can find a replacement we should also let Podolski and (maybe) Cazorla leave. And then wobble into the top four and solve our problems in the summer. Sounds familiar? But of course it does. It's Arsenal.

Till tomorrow

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