Sunday 8 November 2015

Super sub proves Wenger must be a genius!

As regular readers of this blog will already know, I'm not part of AKB brigade. By the same token, I've not been calling for Wenger's head either in the wake of disappointing results (especially as there haven't been many in the league this season).

However, today against Spurs, I had to question what had happened to the Arsenal team: it seemed like most of the Gunners were on Valium. Not only that, they were holding onto the ball for too long and losing possession. Worst of all, there was no evidence that Arsenal were learning not to dwell on the ball.

By contrast, Spurs were sharp, pressing the ball, giving Arsenal no time to pick a pass. Performance-wise, Arsenal weren't much better than they were at Sheffield Wednesday and Bayern Munich away. Was that because Spurs are such a good team? It's hard to say, but they were certainly well organized.

Yes, there are a lot of injuries, but it's the general lethargy that is worrying for Arsenal. Was it really the short-haul flight to Munich that drained the team? As well as that worry, collective defensive lessons have not been learned by Arsenal, with Koscielny inexplicably trying to play Kane offside, which led to the opening goal.

Arsenal got worse thereafter, with Cazorla, in particular, being closed down by Tottenham, who hunted in packs. Surprisingly, Cazorla (who was 'dizzy', according to Wenger) was replaced by Flamini at half-time, which added a bit of bite into the midfield. However, as much as I'm a fan of 'Flames', he didn't exactly turn the tide.

In fact, it was an unlikely hero, Kieran Gibbs who saved the day for Arsenal. With Wenger lacking options on the bench and watching a front four not tracking back, Le Boss replaced Joel Campbell (who ironically seemed the most likely Arsenal scorer, due to his lack of fear of shooting on site) with the aforementioned left back. Well, at least Gibbs is fast, but was he really going to trouble Spurs right back Kyle Walker. The answer was a resounding 'yes' when Ozil (breaking the record for the most consecutive assists) floated the ball to the far post. Gibbs connected and somehow the ball was scrambled over the line.

They say the mark of a good team is not losing when you're playing badly, and Arsenal were so abject for so much of the game that they must be delighted with the point.

Arteta was also a used sub, coming on for Debuchy, who I thought did quite well. However, the Frenchman is perhaps not fully match fit yet, so he shouldn't be judged too harshly in Bellerin's absence.

The draw meant that Arsenal missed an opportunity to go to the top of the league with Man City dropping points at Aston Villa. Performances like this will make people doubt Arsenal's title credentials, although the result is what really matters. After the two-week international break, Wenger is hoping to strengthen his squad as some of his ten injured players may be ready for action.

Looking at the next six fixtures, apart from Man City, the list of games looks relatively kind. Despite looking like idle pretenders for much of the Spurs game, if Arsenal can show battling qualities again when the going gets tough (as it surely will again) perhaps they can indeed mount a serious title challenge.

Sent from my iPhone

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