Sunday, 28 September 2008

Complacent and unfortunate

It was by no means a great team performance yesterday, but I have seen us play much worse and win, and it was certainly nowhere near the low of the Fulham away game. However we still contrived to lose three points to a rather average side by giving away a hard fought one goal lead, there are certainly some explanations for this slightly sloppy capitulation.

One should still see the defeat in perspective though, we were incredibly unlucky to lose the match, we had countless excellent chances and Hull did not threaten our goal to anything like the same degree. The first half saw Hull create nothing at all, while despite not flowing as we can, we still created a few good clear cut opportunities. Adebayor had goal strangely ruled out, for what I am not quite sure, Walcott had three excellent chances, one he fluffed, one he took too long and the other he allowed an excellent recovering challenge to nip the ball away from him when through one on one. RVP and Ade didn't really work hard enough all day, and this was especially so in the first forty five.

So in we went nil nil at half time, it wasn't awful, but it certainly wasn't great. It still didn't excuse the rather petulant and almost Manu like behaviour of a small minority of fans who seem to think that their incessant moaning helps, why not support the team? We are supporters after all.

Theo burst down the right and caused panic in the Hull box and the ball somehow squirmed over the line, fortunately the lino's size able belly didn't prevent him from observing that the ball had definitely crossed the line, one nil up we were. We should then have gone on to bury Hull, but we did not, so what were the reasons for this?

Certainly a lot of supporters seemed to think that going one nil up meant that we had won the game, chants of 'You should have stuck to the Rubgy' and others demonstrated a slight lack of awareness of Hull's several remarkable comebacks from a goal down so far this season. We also had a few great openings which we did not take advantage of. RVP in particular looked more lively, but he did not have his shooting boots on, he was also far too selfish on a couple of occasions.

Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up to a great goal as well, and Hull's first came from a position that didn't initially appear that threatening, Giovanni cutting inside from the left wing position to fire home an awesome thirty yarder that left Almunia without a prayer. There was not enough pressure on the ball, however those do not often nestle in the top corner.

Hull's second came from a set piece, a good whipped corner from the right was expertly headed home by Daniel Cousins, our man on the line didn't appear to do much. It was rather worrying that Hull looked so very dangerous from their set pieces, we are a very small side and there is just not getting away from that. Toure is our only defender or midfielder who is remotely tall, the rest are medium sized at best, it just leaves us so exposed to set plays and the long ball.

We continued to huff and puff, Fabregas forced a great save, Gallas looked a better striker than defender as he headed against the underside of the bar, while a few other efforts flashed just wide. It finished 2-1 to Hull, fair play to them, they were organised at the back and despite riding their luck, got their tactics spot on.

I'm not sure I completely buy the comments from Arsene after the game, I agree that we were a tad complacent in some ways, especially with our slack finishing and the wasting of so many gilt edged chances. Personally I don't think Hull defended that well, if we had finished well then we could have had at least four or five goals, it was our sloppyness rather than Hull's excellence. There was also not quite enough movement, especially from our strikers, however I did think that the rest of the side looked pretty motivated.

One aspect of Arsene's explanation does not wash with me, as regards conceding from corners (again):

"It is a weakness in our team but that’s as well linked with the level of concentration. You can work for hours on the training ground but if you don’t attack the ball on the day of the game it will cost you. We were caught already the corner before when the guy got infront of Adebayor. I believe that's more down to how much you want the ball."

There is an element of lacking concentration here, however if you have such a small side then no matter how motivated and determined you are, it's still very hard to outjump a much bigger side. In particular a lot of this problem is rooted in the Toure-Gallas combo, and personally Gallas is the weaker link for me. He was completely outmanoeuvred by Marlon King yesterday, who is at best at average top division player. He routinely lost the aerial contest, even when he was in a stronger starting position. Gallas is a very good defender, however a strong back four is made by having four players who complement each other's games, Gallas does not complement Toure's game.

Our back four does not look right and this has been apparent for a while. Gallas was great for Chelsea when playing at full back or when playing alongside a beast who could win everything in the air, however he has never been an aggressive centre half who will dominate the aerial challenges, he is a clever mopper upper of danger and needs players around him to make up for his weaknesses. Gallas left Chelsea because he wanted to be a permanent fixture at centre back, it seems that they realised what we can see now, that Gallas is not really a true centre back.

In perspective we should still have dispatched Hull, even with our problems at centre back, and we must improve our finishing if we are to sustain a challenge for the title this year. I still don't think it was an awful performance, we created enough to have won; I certainly don't think the small minority of Arsenal fans who indulged in taking their frustration out on certain Arsenal players help the team and they certainly don't make the game more enjoyable for the majority of loyal fans around them. We do have some problems, but please let's see them in perspective and let's try to be constructive rather than behaving like small children who didn't get the Christmas present that they saw as their divine right.


Si said...

'You're not English any more' chanted the Tigers' fans yesterday. I was sitting within spitting distance of this raucous bunch, and although at the beginning of the match some of their fans looked like they were going to make this a very long afternoon, by offering me out and calling me a soft, southern cunt; by the end of the day they were all hapy go lucky fuckers wanting to shake my hand, take me for a bevy and put me up in Hull when I go up for the away game!
The before mentioned chant seemed a little rich when Geovanni (obviously a local lad, flat cap wearing Yorkshireman with a name like that) scored and then Cousin (Humber bridge engineer by day and bitter drinking legend by night)did the same. Fair play to the buggers they deserved it, but we didn't play as badly as people have been saying, but again Eboue was shit, Van Persie and Ade didn't turn up and when I saw Gallas holding his head and checking for blood when he was still under pressure from a Hull attack, I wanted to thump the tosser and make sure he was bleeding. What is Gallas' problem? Is it a mental state or is he just an obnoxious, self important tosser? Of all the decisions Wenger has made, making Gallas captain has to be the worst.

Anonymous said...

up a goal and go on to lose it. psychological blow to say the least. we are not in a table crisis, but we have a leadership crisis. it's as if the players don't believe they can do it. i think it's a function of absence of leadership on the pitch, some one the youngsters have to look to. players like a vieira, bergkamp, pires, campbell, henry - they brook no bs from anyone. we don't have any players like this anymore. now our players need psychological coaching and cuddling and all kinds of warm and fuzzy 'team' concept coaching to play to their potential? shyte, whatever man, bring in some players who know how to get it done when it really counts, and yes every league game is vital even in sept. we're giving ourselves no margin for error later in the 'tough' part of the season.

Si said...

I agree that very league game is vital. And in the Observer today in the fan review of the game, Arsenal's fan states that a team that loses two games at this stage of the season to the opposition that we have lost to are no longer title contenders. i don't know if I agree with that completely, but something needs to be sorted, but without a great holding player next to Cesc and a makeover at centre back, we are not going to light up the league. Alonso had a blinder against the Toffees. He looks like a massive missed oppurtunity now.

blewlimbs said...

Sorry 1979gooner but this time you have got it really wrong...your glasses are not so much rise tinted as deepest arseblogger who gets it much nearer the truth....the team were worse than poor against Hull and deserve all the criticism that they get...what you heard was frustration born of passion and not everyone can be as dispassionate as your good self...possibly they drank a little more. We the fans invest much money and more heart in supporting our team and we expect and deserve our players to give their best. They will not win every game but they damned well should try. What was missing against Hull and Fulham were concentration, commitment and effort and a determination to give their best and we deserve better than that!!

Anonymous said...

Divine right? Our players dint put in the effort. Case in point theo and gallas, who both just plain sucked yesterday. Gallas cant put his head on any ball and theo's brain locked up when he had a sitter in the six yard box. theo also didn't do anything to stop geovanni's shot. Had theo bothered to show up the outcome could have been vastly different. A major problem is the incosistency of our players who, yesterday, couldn't be bothered.

Si said...

Theo didn't turn up? He was the only one who did, you plum. The fact that he is still playing out of position and is playing better than most of the team doesn't register?? Didn't turn up, what a load of shite. Gallas didn't turn up, RvP didn't turn up, Denilson got lost in the dressing room, Ade got lost on the way to the cash point. Cesc tried to thread the ball to two players who didn't seem bothered in the slightest. Eboue was G-d awful, Clichy and Sagna ran their balls off (as per usual), Toure looked out of sorts, as he usualy does when his partner is Gallas. Theo was the one real danger to Hull, he didn't stop running and although running is not always the best policy (head down, get to the by line, get to the by line)Hull needed to be stretched, becasue they made it absolutely clear that we were not going to walk it through them and into the back of their net. Although I wrote in an earlier post that we didn't play as bad as many fans are saying, we didn't play well that's for sure. But laying the blame at Theo's feet is a joke.

K man said...

"Ade got lost on the way to the cash point" - si that made me laugh out loud - very good.

I can confirm that 1979 didn't drink nearly enough before the game and hence why he found some of the abuse a bit too thick for his liking.

I thought we were poor and agree with Wenger that we lacked the commitment that Hull showed. Gallas and Toure can't play together - we all know that except Wenger - I'm getting tired of even talking about it. Problem is that Wenger won;t drop Gallas or remove him as captain until next summer.

RvP and Ade wre poor. I'd like them both dropped for Carlos and Nicky B on Tue night - that would give them a good kick up the arse.

Ted said...

Good stuff 1979. I agree. 12 points from 6 games is ok. Its not great, but its ok. Lets not get over-excited. The maximum that ManUre can get is 11 from 6 games. So lets have a bit of perspective.

Hull's goals were both top drawer. Geovanni's was awesome, but Cousin's header was also extremely good. Fair play to them.

On the Theo debate, there is very little point starting a witch hunt on who was the worst player. It was collectively a bad performance and no-one made a shocking mistake.

That applies even for Gallas, even though he was generally poor. We all know he is not good in the air and every big striker we play against will beat him. But it is wrong to say that Gallas is why we lost.

However, the lack of commitment and drive is now confirmed in this team. The signs were there at the WBA game, they grew at Fulham and now with this performance its beyond doubt. We are very inconsistent.

This team has major flaws but it remains very young and very talented. We are only two points behind the leaders and so long as we bounce back again, as we did after Fulham, we will stay in the reckoning.

Anonymous said...

Si, that's fine if you want to be theo's personal booster, but it's just factual that had theo scored his sitter and had he given a damn to stop geovanni the result would have been reversed. Personally, and I know others can disagree, i don't think theo had any passion to win yesterday. So he runs, so what, was it effective? Check the scoreline. If you can't accept that that's fine, you are correct to point out our team generally underperformed as well, on that i do agree.

1979gooner said...

There's some interesting comment here and that's because I don't think it's quite as black and white as some seem to think.

Ted said...

As I said, the Theo debate is largely pointless, but it is quite interesting.

AW said a few weeks back, possibly after the England hatrick, that Theo was still very young and would be inconsistent. It doesn't really help if we big him up massively one week and then call him shite the next.

I mentioned to 1979 on saturday that most fans only have two categories of player - "brilliant" and "shite", whereas about 95% of players should fit into a whole range of "did ok" boxes.

Which, in passing, is exactly where Theo is right now. He is not TT in front of goal, he is not Pires on the wing. But he is a bloody sight better than Glen Helder. He did ok.

Thing is, doing ok wasn't good enough to beat Hull. I agree with that, but what do we do about it? Shouting and screaming is unlikely to work.

Equally, for those Vela and Bendtner fans out there, they hardly showed the starting XI up when they came on, although Vela is looking quite sharp at the moment.

My bet for Tuesday is that AW shows loyalty to his star players and Gallas stays in the team. Vela may get his first start, probably wide left, but thats probably it. Porto are our main opposition in the group and whilst we are all pissed off with what happened against Hull, I don't think playing the kids against Porto is the greatest idea in the world.

However, apart from the obvious, one thing unites the WBA, Fulham and Hull performances. And that is the absence of Alex Song.

K man said...

Ted you're more obsessed with Song than I am with Djourou!

I'd like to see Vela start on Tuesday, along with....Djourou (but at centre back obviously)!

1979gooner said...

just following on from my earlier comments, I think it was a dissappointing performance but it wasn't 'that' bad, ie I don't think it was nearly as piss poor or shit as some commentators reckoned,

the defence is a problem in the centre, I don't think that's a motivational thing, it's down to personnel,

cesc was not at his best, but he can't be perfect every week, i thought denilson did well, theo was good apart from his finishing and eboue did reasonably for eboue, obviously nasri would have been an improvement,

i was dissappointed with the strikers, although RVP did try harder in the second half, the finishing was definitely not good enough,

overall it was pretty mixed, there was some good, some bad, and because hull scored a belter and we didn't defend well enough from a set piece, plus we missed several great opportunities, it culminated in defeat,

however on another day we would win that game easily, it was still very unfortunate and the performance was not that bad at all,

all I'm calling for is a bit of perspective

Obsinho said...

Although the games are played at a different level, the Hull match was a lot like my last two SUnday league games. We had shed loads of possession, and shed loads of shots. But none went in. The opposition had far fewer, and stuck them away.

The Arsenal had 25 shots on Saturday, and 4 on target. Hull has 9 shots, and 5 on target. That is hideously wasteful.

If you don't stick the ball in you won't win.

Obsinho said...

Another thing from the perspective of a highly incompetent defender, is there is no way we should be winning 15 corners in any game, especially one in which there were 4 shots on target.

Hull were happy to give away corners. That is a shocking indictment of our threat from set pieces.

Letting the opposition defence have a simple get out of jail free card is very dangerous. Maybe more dangerous than looking poor when we defend corners aginst us.

Anonymous said...

Yes, ok, i'm singling out one player and maybe being too harsh, but dribbling a sitter off his shin and letting a player he can run cirlces around ghost by him for an uncontested shot to me belies a lack of awareness and interest. Those were two of the vital moments and demonstrate the type of 'inconsistency' that will get us killed. Gallas and others are culpable as well no question. There, i'm done, i'll be ok for tuesday.

Si said...

Hey man, what to do. I'm a big fan of Theo, but not to the point of blindness. He played a lot more solidly than anyone else for me on Saturday, that's all.
He should start tomorrow, but he probably wont.