Sunday 25 November 2012

Not awful but obvious we are not a top side anymore

I have to start by saying that a lot of the reaction to yesterday's away draw at Villa was rather hysterical, lacking context and also disrespectful to a well organised Villa side who gave their all.  By no means am I saying that we were great, we were not, but we were nowhere near as bad and awful as some have been claiming.  Overall we played the better football, created the better chances and could easily have ground out a decent away win.  The reasons we did not win are not simple and I don't think it does anyone any favours to start jumping to easy conclusions, like saying the players didn't try and that there was a lack of effort, this is simply not true.

Our main problem is that we no longer have a side that is full of the best players around.  Other top sides have overtaken us and we do not have enough real top drawer quality in our squad.  This was demonstrated yesterday by the lack of attacking options on the bench.  Tactically we also have issues and this is hard to cleanly separate from our squad weakness.  I am no fan of Podolski being deployed on the left, he is not suited to this role and has to be used centrally. The problem is we have so few decent wide attacking players.  Arshavin is past his best, Gervinho is erratic, the Ox has great potential but needs time, while Theo is also erratic and also injury prone.

We do not have the real scary pace in the side that we used to.  Players like Anelka, Overmars and Henry used to scare defenders rigid.  We don't really have a proper centre forward on our books with real pace, then we have Theo, Ox and Gervinho as our quick players, I just don't think we have enough in our squad.  The return of Jack Wilshere has also shown just how we have lacked real quality in the centre of the park too.  Arteta is a very good player but he is no world beater, Ramsey is decent, Cazorla is a genuinely classy player.

It is hard to sum it all up and generalisation of accuracy are hard to find, but the Villa game showed it all quite perfectly.  It was a reasonable performance in many ways, defensively we were solid, we played some neat stuff at times, the problem was that we weren't just quite good enough in attacking terms.  In isolation this wouldn't be a problem, but this isn't an isolated example, we are consistently failing to see off relatively weak opposition, we are just not a top drawer side and top drawer squad any more 

I can't fault the effort or commitment of the players though, they give their all from what I can see, the problem is more one of overall squad quality, there is also an element of poor tactics from the manager.  It is sad to admit to, but deep down I know we are just not a great side any more  we are good, we have some fantastic players and great talent coming through, but we no longer scare opponents like we used to, we are no longer league title contenders.

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