Monday, October 1, 2012
Set piece struggles continue as Arsenal drop three at home.
Morning everybody. Needless to say, Saturday's result wasn't quite what I was hoping for. In my preview of this match, I said I felt like a draw would be somewhat disappointing, so dropping all the points was something beyond disappointing. That said, I feel as though I may have underestimated Chelsea. This was the first time this season that I really intently watched them play, and their quality was clearly evident, even with the unexpected absence of Lampard. They remain at the top of the table and as of this weekend, I can definitely see why. I think there's a silver lining to this cloud though, and I'm not totally gutted by the loss.
The fact that we kept it close says something about us. To be honest, I think we could have easily lost that match by two or three goals, but we didn't allow ourselves to be completely overcome, and held on strong until the end. I think if last year's Arsenal team were on the pitch, we could have struggled badly, something akin to the 8-2 disaster. We were outplayed in nearly every aspect of the match, but keeping our composure allowed us to remain in contention for a point, and I think that speaks to our maturity as well as our quality.
Looking back, the hard part to swallow is that we looked a little bit foolish on both of Chelsea's goals. That's been a disturbing trend for us over the past few seasons. We seem to beat ourselves. As well as we've played on defence under Bould, we still look confused and disorganized on set pieces. The good news is that I see that as something that can be fixed, but until we actually fix it, we're going to see goals scored on us like the ones we did on Saturday, and that isn't the type of play consistent with winning trophies.
That isn't really to say that Chelsea's goals were lucky, or totally a result of our own mishaps. Torres had to work for his goal and it was fairly impressive, but the fact that Luiz came within a hair of heading it in himself, totally unmarked, points to the fact that one way or another, we didn't have it quite right. In other words, that goal was always going to happen, and it was just a matter of who was going to have it. Koscielny will be blamed, but you can't properly mark two men with one man, especially when you're playing a side like Chelsea.
I don't know how many times I've seen Mata's goal, if that's what we're calling it, and I'm still not sure what to make of it. It was just an odd sequence of events in a short space of time that left me with a "what the **** just happened" look on my face. It looked like a great ball that was intentionally played to Koscielny, who finished nicely, while Mannone just seemed to sit and watch it all unfold.
Koscielny won't walk away from this match feeling good about it, but to be fair, a lot of guys on our side had a howler. Rarely, if ever, will I take a shot at an Arsenal player, but Aaron Ramsey was awful and for me, he isn't a player of enough quality to be starting matches of this caliber. Every now and then he plays a beautiful ball, but they are too few and far between and I don't think he is ready for, nor deserving of the playing time Wenger is giving him. I know he's young and that's fine, but if we're competing for trophies, I think we ought to put our best XI on the pitch and I would have much preferred to see Walcott, or Giroud, or some other combination of players wherein Ramsey wasn't one of them.
But again, nobody had a really great match. Cazorla even looked human for the first time in an Arsenal shirt, and I think he was somebody who was going to have to have a great performance for us to win. If anybody looked good, I think it was Gervinho. I'm not sure what has happened with him, but he looks so much better than he did last year. I think it's partly positioning, but there is something else going on as well. Probably confidence, and let's hope he can keep it up because he's looking dangerous, and more like a striker than anybody else on the team so far.
No time for us to pout about this result. As I said, it wasn't a complete disaster and I hope we've learned a thing or two from it. The gap between ourselves and the top of the table is starting to be a little bit of a concern, but it's still very early and our schedule, at least as far as the Prem, is about to ease up a little bit. From here, we need to pick up the pieces and get ready for a midweek Champion's League fixture with Olympiakos which will be no walk in the park, but if we can get the points, we'll be in great shape. Chin up Gooners, and I'll see you tomorrow morning.