Monday, 2 January 2012

A deeply depressing Probert catalysed capitulation

I'll keep this brief because I'm so gutted that we have thrown three points away against a Fulham side that we really should have beaten.  There were certainly many reasons for our defeat today, some we couldn't do anything about such as Lee Probert's pathetic refereeing performance, but the sad thing was that there were many things we could have done something about, and that is the frustration.

We dominated the first half and should have been more than a goal ahead at the break, some poor finishing was largely to blame, as well as a highly debatable decision not to award us a penalty when Gervinho appeared to be taken down in the box.  Still, Fulham looked dangerous and the warning signs were there in the first half, the inexperienced novice full backs were not getting enough protection from the players in front of them.

Fulham cranked the pressure up in the second half and a mixture of poor defending, a lack of adequate fresh players with the right attributes on the bench and some more poor refereeing contributed to this leading to a Fulham victory.  It looked like we might hold out, but then a ridiculously poor decision from Probert saw Djourou sent off for a second yellow when he barely touched Zamora, the Fulham player looked to have gone to ground rather easily to say the least.  Szczesny's flapping led to the first which got bundled in and Zamora struck home the second a minute from time after a headed knock down.  So so painful.

I feel for Arsene this time, our squad has been decimated by a massive number of injuries to our defensive players, we are down to the bare bones at the moment and this undoubtedly played its part today.  To their credit the players who have been playing out of position at full back have been doing a damn good job considering.  The way our squad has been stretched was obvious today, the full backs are not proper full backs, while our midfielders looked fatigued as the game wore on.

There are problems with the depth in our squad too.  In terms for forwards, do the likes of Rosicky and Benayoun really give us a dangerous pace that can scare teams on the break when they are asked to play in wide forward positions?  I think not.  We need some more quality back up to the likes of Gervinho and RVP.  Could we have done with Francis Coquelin in the midfield today, I would argue yes.  There is clearly not enough depth in terms of pacey forward players.

The 4-3-3 system can fail dismally at times if the wide players fail to assist the full backs defensively, but this is also partly down to the personnel we have, do we really have enough midfielders who can contribute with that tough defensive grit?  How much does a player like Rosicky do when they don't have the ball, this really is something that needs to be debated.  We lost the midfield battle in the second half, the fatigue and lack of midfield bite on the bench seemed to have its effect.

Anyone who says that Lee Probert's incompetence didn't have a significant effect on the outcome of today's game needs their hollow head examined.  We had clear penalties denied in both halves, a ridiculous sending off and there was a strangely consistent tendency to award free kicks to Fulham for offences that did not appear to merit free kicks if committed on us.  Lee Probert catalysed own dismal demise, that is for sure.

So most importantly where to go from here?  Knee jerk reactions are not clever, we must see this result in the context of our excellent recent form and the massive improvement we have made in the last three months.  However we must also see the problems that we have, we need to sign some extra defensive cover in January, the injuries to our full backs have cost us numerous points already, we need more balance in our squad overall in terms of midfield battle.  There are also several players who need replacing in our squad, they have simply not delivered and need to go.  Come on you Gunners.


Anonymous said...

I agree, Squillaci was poor and Rosicky had no impact and was poor in possession. Need some defensive cover!

Anonymous said...

Another 3 points dropped...let's hope Wenger realizes that aside from poor ref decisions, we are too light on the defence (without Verm, Santos, Sagna) and NEED to sign a versatile defender (Squilaci, Djuorou = useless) Gibbs is always injured, and Jenkinson is tot experienced enough.

Also, ffs we have yet another French League attacking lemon (Chamakh being the previous), in Gervinho WHO JUST CANNOT FINISH to save his life.

Address these obviously lacking areas, and we 'can' still finish 4th.

Henry is a no-brainer, but he will not get all the service he was used to when he last played for us, so we still need additional attacking creativity...glad to see the legend back btw!

Soul said...

It is simple, we were tired and our finishing was total crap. We have no depth. That is it. We have a very good bunch of thirteen players after that we fall below the required quality in every position but left and right back (go figure).

Jekyll said...

The problem of dominating mediocre teams yet not killing them off has been there for years and years and years. Wenger has not addressed it, whether he's even tried to or not. The 4-3-3 was a system devised for a player that is not even there anymore - Fabregas. Yet Wenger will not let it go. It's the same old, same old problems. Incidentally were are not on a good run, the form lately is very mediocre indeed.

Anonymous said...

6th this year I'm afraid. How ungracious is Wenger in defeat - it's embarrassing! I'm afraid the power of North London has shifted to down the road - thay are light years ahead of us

Clockendrider said...

Unfortunategy the weak minded Probert was clearly influenced by the unreconstructed 70s man Warnocks comments about an Persie being clever in the way he fouled. How else are we yo understand the utter lack of protection given to RVP today? A bit sick of these poor excuses for officials Saturday we had man child Stuart Attwell, the only referee I have ever seen stop a game for an injury while the player in question is off the pitch. Today Probert, another serial clown. We weren't good though. Must be nearly time for a clear out though. Arshavin, no effort. Walcott does his best work in defence and can't control the ball. Arteta needs a break as does Ramsey. Two weeks off now so hopefully a few players back before the next game that matters.

Anonymous said...

This was another golden chance not taken.I beleive Arsenal have a first class thirteen to fifiteen players.Wenger signed Park and Ryo who will play in two years time. I'm afarid securing the cl berth is going to be very tough and the gunners might not get it.
It's better to get the quality players who can go into the lst team now not wc kids who wil or not perform inthree years time.
If Wenger doesnt get the guys who can bring the gunners to the next level and Arsenal fail to clinch the fourth spot,he has reached his zenith.Time fora new guy with fresh ideas.

Anonymous said...

'Excellent recent form' Have to question that. Man City(a) Lost, Villa(a) Won, Wolves(h) Drew, QPR(h) Drew, Fulham(a) Lost. That's 7 points from the last 15 available

Anonymous said...

We are shit - there are no excuses!

Anonymous said...

Park to play in 2 years. What, when he's on military service

@tomgoom said...

Great blog. Nice to see some perspective too, knee jerk reactions saying we should buy x,y and z aren't needed.
For me we were just too wasteful in the final third. Our two wingers especially, one can't cross the other can't finish! Theo and the Forehead had a nightmare.
I don't blame our defence, lacking full backs and Tommy V it was always going to be tough. And Probert, well yes he was poor, but Djourou could have had a second yellow moments before he was sent off. I think it was the accumulation of fouls that made the difference.
We need to kill off games, we didn't today and didn't against Wolves. Once again we've paid the price.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, QPR home was a win of course, still 7 from 15 though

Anonymous said...

Poor decision-making on the field from Gervinho and especially Walcott.
But Wenger's faults were much more frustrating. He picked the wrong team (again) and (again) he reacted too slowly to what happened in the game:
Why pick almost the same line-up for the fourth time in 11 days when so many players are so obviously too tired to play the whole game?
Why not start with three or four of the squad players and put on the stars in the second half?
Why rely on Walcott - who for several games have played with absolutely no self confidence or quality - and leave the Ox out of the squad?
Why wait (again!!!) to the sixty-somethingth minute before he makes a substitution when it's so obvious that we need new energy on the field?
Why let Djorou struggle with Frei - even when he had got a yellow card. The red card was so predictable!
Why put on SQUILACCI???? of all people, when he could have chosen Miguel for the left back and let Coquelin shift to the right to stop Frei?
Yes, we should have buried the game in the first half. And yes, we should have had a penalty to Gervinho. But that shouldn't take the focus from the mistakes made by our own manager!

Pascal Zidane said...

Good post, mate.

I'm officially worried now, it takes a lot to worry me like this.

Injuries will always happen to us, it's been like this for a decade now, we are an injury-prone team. Why, I don't exactly know. Maybe it's the type of players we sign, maybe its just bad luck. That's for another article.

What worries me is the caliber of players coming on in important games. I can't really say any of the ones that came on looked like scoring or making an impact.

Yossi Benayoun definitely can and showed it against Aston Villa but is he able to do that consistently for a top club like Arsenal? Not sure.

I love Rosicky but surely we can afford a quality midfielder to challenge Ramsey and score crucial goals/assists.

Ramsey was superb today in parts, really clever player.

Le Coq was solid at LB, tired in the end and got pushed back with the rest of the team.

Koscielny again was superb, I hope he doesn't get injured bc we cant replace this sort of quality.

Notice that I haven't commented on Squillaci - nothing for me to add really. The guy is simply not good enough. Why is he still at the club i'll never know. Wenger needs to answer on that.

Having said that, take your chances and Arsenal take all 3 points. Unfair to blame just defenders. All our front three were average today, esp infront of goal.


3 players needed: Defender, Midfielder and a top striker alongside Henry.

Our whole season hinges on Wenger signing quality this window.


Anonymous said...

Rubbish, the first yellow was a foul. Tackle from behind.....then the second elliw was a clear ARM across Zamora. Then Wenger said it was a. Foul against Arsenal. Garbage. No wonder Gooners don't take lusomg very well when their Manager talks nonsense. Don't blame the ref blame the player. Welldone Fulham.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Gooners moaning like their Manager. Open your eyes! Sore losers like always. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Well Gooners let's all go down to the Arsenal shop and buy the new must have gift for 2012.
It's the Robin van Persie tea tray. Built to Carry 10 mugs

Anonymous said...

As for the cheap digs regarding us gooners moaning, it's an Arsenal blog lol (in particular the comment @ 21:05 - was there anything of meaning you actually wanted to say, or are you just ?)!!

For anyone watching the game today we had many reasons to have a moan (predominantly towards individual mistakes made by some of our players, and also Arsene himself).

Anonymous said...

The problem we have is that Wenger refuses to accept his back-up players are simply not good enough. Benayoun, Rosicky and to a certain degree Arshavin are peas in a pod, all frantic running and lack of defensive nous, but do sod all when in possession - they certainly provide nothing from the flanks.

And in the case of Rosicky have lost any ability to shoot/score. As for the rest of the dead wood - Wenger uses them as a reason for not buying anyone. He says the squad is already too big. I say a responsible manager makes sure all his squad can make a contribution on the pitch - Squillaci, Chamakh and Park are worse than training cones and Diaby and Gibbs are never fit.

Cut your losses on them and start afresh, or we WILL lose the few genuinely good players we have as we did last season. They simply aren't prepared to see all their hard work undone by penny pinching and economising, for the sake of a few extra million which we DO have to spend and everyone knows it.

If Park isn't good enough to play why is he being kept. If Chamakh is incapable of scoring let him go on a free, that's how we got him and it bloody shows. If Oxlade Chamberlain and Ryo aren't ready send them on loan, they won't get any better sat in the reserves.

Sign players who are ready NOW. The ones Wenger got right in the summer have shown what an impact ready-made players can have.

Anonymous said...

continued from 23.17. I neglected to add that the likes of Sczezsny, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Arteta, Van Persie, Mertsacker and when they come back Sagna, Dos Santos Wilshere are the spine of a great team, a potentially league winning side. WHat they are being frustrated by and the fans season after season is that Wenger doesn't give his first team players the support they deserve and then he overplays them and they start to suffer injuries or drops in form. Van Persie, Gervinho, Arteta and Song all looked leggy today and it's no surprise. If we had better quality on the bench to not only come on but also start the odd game, they wouldn't spend so much time in the "red zone". And would also play better when they are on the pitch.

Anonymous said...

look how well they have done in the 2 months give them a chances look at all the injurys we have had wait till.
we get all are players back get behind them not slag them off all the time

don said...

apart from he refs decision which played a big role to the loss today,wenger is to blame,djourou should have been subbed,walcott was warn out could barely cross the ball,gervinho wasted chances and is getting too complacent with his position,ramsey was too wenger should have played rosicky in ramseys place,oxlade in walcots,chamakh in gervinho's especially chamakh,he has a good work rate and can take on players on the wing,generally the squad too was tired,but this should be a lesson learned to wenger too,he needs to seriously annalyse games played with the team because the re occurance of the same mistakes,poor decision making and chances wasted in games is too much,yet,never rectified,all arsenal fans know we aren't the refs favorite,majority hate us,so,wenger should seriously grill the team about wasted chances and even encourage competition for positions

1979gooner said...

Dear Fulham fan

Zamora dived I'm afraid.

There was no tugging or pulling! It was shoulder to shoulder, and Zamora threw himself down theatrically....

Anonymous said...

Yes, Arsenal lacked the energy to offset Fulham's advances with attacks of their own in the second period. Yes, Arsenal were beset once again by that perennial afflction: profligacy. Yes, of course, the Arsenal of old would have been more assured in possession, cleared their lines better, prevented Fulham from retrieving loose balls and endeavoured to consolidate the lead obtained after much fine, fluent first-half football; but, by citing the aforementioned, we risk overlooking another important factor in Arsenal's defeat yeserday: refereeing incompetence. Not only did Lee Probert demonstrate that he is among that infuriating collection of officials who are afraid or reluctant to penalise any foul in the area, not only was he 'naive' enough to accede to Bobby Zamora's interpretation of the Djourou incident; but he also conducted the match as a whole inconsistently and allowed Fulham to escape with impunity for overly forceful challenges on Arsenal players, particularly Van Persie, just as Arsenal could conceivably have hoped to benefit from their incipient rhythm. It was a physically demanding match- never have I seen so few free-kicks awarded and, therefore, so little respite- in which Fulham, perhaps flattered by their justifiable reputation for fair play, exploited a number of the referee's weaknesses

Anonymous said...

* affliction

Anonymous said...

The 433 formation has never been a winner. Arsene I feel has reached the end of the line. Fresh approach and new ideas is needed. He is a legend but I feel the team in the last 5 to 6 years is badly off the pace. Please go back to 442 . Arsene is ruining arshavin and chakmar. There are decent players. It's the manager that is the problem. Arsenal til I die