It’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve had sufficient time to digest the horrors before my eyes last night, to make sense of the madness, yet I find myself coming back to the phrase that erupted from my lips when the final whistle blew:
F*ck off, Arsenal.
It was, in no uncertain terms, a woefully inept performance. I did consider singling out Mikel Arteta for some scathing criticism as I thought he was uncharted levels of sh*t-awful, but that wouldn’t be particularly fair as his was far from the only poor display. Collectively, we simply didn’t turn up and allowed a Dortmund side some distance from their strongest to waltz through our midfield and defence seemingly at their leisure.
However, the disappointment and anger now seems entirely irrelevant. What we could/should have done on the night is a discussion that could range on throughout eternity. What matters, in the humble opinion of yours truly, is making sure that kind of display never happens again.
Last season we saw such a horrendous displays away from home on more than one occasion. Anfield, Stamford Bridge and The Ethiad are the examples that spring to mind. We didn’t just lose those games, we were steamrollered off the pitch. Last night could easily have been that bad had Dortmund converted even a 3rd of the chances they created. The 2-0 scoreline flattered us.
Not being a professional football coach makes it tough for me to offer a credible solution, although I would suggest the 4-1-4-1 formation we’ve played since the season began is put in the drawer marked, ‘things that haven’t really worked’.
I believe we need to look at the team as a whole, at the manner in which we set ourselves up for important games away from home. The one thing all the games I’ve mentioned have had in common is our inability to weather the storm thrown at us in the first periods. We don’t appear to set up any differently for games, regardless of opposition – wether it be Barnet or Real Madrid, we look to impose our game and dominate possession. That’s an admirable philosophy, but one that just won’t work all of the time.
We’re predictable. We don’t have a ‘Plan B’ and I often get the impression the bigger teams don’t fear us anymore, because we’ve shown ourselves to be a soft touch when the pressure is really on. I genuinely am loathe to make such statements as the thought of bitching about my team isn’t a pleasant one. Sometimes, even the most positive have to step back and look at reality, and that reality is we need to address the problems so glaringly obvious.
Would an imposing DM help? Yes. Would it solve the problems? No. Doing that requires the whole team. Someone sitting in front of the back 4 and winning the ball would have helped immeasurably last night, but I’m not sure one player can prevent a collective failure. In fact, I’m certain of it.
Truth be told, I have no idea what we should do. I write about Arsenal for fun. I have little or no tactical nous and my managerial experience is Championship Manager and I was never especially good at that. My hopes stem from the fact that this has happened with such frequency, someone must do someting. They must.
Our staff is filled with qualified people with experience. Our players need to sternly look at their performance and stand up and be counted, not just for the fans, but for themselves. We have so much potential in this team that it’s such a pity to see how easily we can be beaten, how quickly heads drop, when the chips stack against us.
We face a decent Villa side on Saturday. Fixing things starts there. We can ill-afford anything but an vast improvement on what we witnessed last night. I still have faith the players can press on and ensure a 2-0 loss to Dortmund is considered nothing more than a momentary blip in the future. Call it blind, stupid faith if you will, but it’s still there.
That’s all for today, folks. This entry probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as I’ve written it in 10 minutes flat before heading off to work. The comments section is below – tell me how your feeling this morning.
I’ll be back tomorrow with something a little more coherent. We’ll also be recording the comeback Gonnersphere Podcast tonight, so keep a look-out for that getting released tomorrow at some point.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.