So that's another two points down the bog and another major hit to our title hopes, there's just something incredibly familiar and depressing about the way in which we gave away such soft goals to a side that we really should be beating comfortably. The saddest thing is that this result was no one off, the warning signs have been there for a while now, in fact the casual tossing of points down the toilet is becoming a fairly regular occurrence, the amazing thing is that we are still in touch, we are still not out of it yet.
Firstly there's no doubt Arsene got the starting eleven wrong. Denilson was woeful and the best option would clearly have been to drop Nasri into the midfield three, playing Chamakh or Bendtner up with RVP. The first goal conceded came simply because we had too few players with any aerial ability on the field, Reid vs Ramsey is no context. Without Song and Djourou, we lack tall aerially dominant players in the side, this is not rocket science.
West Brom sat back and allowed us to have the ball in deeper areas, they knew that Denilson couldn't hurt them and he did nothing to suggest he could. We dominated for long spells and were the better side, but only really had one clear cut chance to show for it, Ramsey forcing a good save from Carson as he followed up RVP's header which struck the crossbar.
Denilson went off at half time and Chamakh came on, more of a 4-42 formation was adopted, Nasri dropping deeper and Ramsey drifted right side. The second goal we conceded was even worse than the first, Squillaci dithered, failing to attack a hopeful long ball, Almunia rushed from his box needlessly, like a man possessed, utter utter lunacy and Odemwingie was left with a simple finish into the empty net. It's very hard to win games of football if you give away goals like this, terrible terrible defending.
To give credit where it is due we did manage to come back from two goals down and that took some strength of character. Arshavin was bright throughout and his opening goal was key, a fantastic touch and powerful finish, it gave us hope just as it was beginning to die. The second was scrappy but RVP's tackled finish was just as satisfying as a thirty yarder. We huffed and puffed, created several decent half chances and applied a lot of pressure, but West Brom just about held firm.
Nasri added a lot more in his deeper midfield role, he added a bit of tempo and pace to our game, he really doesn't look at home on the right of the front three, it's just not his position. Arshavin and Wilshere both had excellent games, as industrious and threatening as anyone. In the end some shambolic defending cost us, again, surely it is time that Arsene addresses the cause of our repeated defensive collapses?
It is a mixture of bad planning and bad luck that has cost us. Losing Szczesny and Djourou for long periods at such a crucial moment was terribly unfortunate. However we should have had more aerial defensive power in reserve given Vermaelen's troublesome Achilles. The lack of cover for Song in defensive midfield has been obvious, this should have been addressed many months ago, it has cost us before and it will cost us again, mark my words. Squad players like Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky and Squillaci have not cut the mustard.
Overall I don't think any team really deserves the league title this year. None of the big clubs have been dominant, none have consistently impressed, in my opinion whoever wins the league title will be one of the poorest sides to have done so in my memory. In this context I find our failure to learn from previous mistakes particularly frustrating, if we had learnt from these lessons, we could easily have been the dominant force in the league this season.