Giroud, Walcott, Mannone, Cazorla, Vermaelen, and a bit of the good with a bit of the bad.

Schalke 2-2 Arsenal: Nike’s new extra-padded sports coat enabled Arsene the luxury of not leaving the technical area when desperate for a tinkle.

Morning folks.

Had one of you politely offered a score draw away in Germany before the game started, I would have taken it. Given the game’s importance and the opposition’s quality, I would have eagerly snatched that point with no regard for the safety of your limbs.

What seemed a respectable outcome before kick-off, now comes with significant disappointment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still reasonably happy with the result, but having lead 2-0 and blowing it causes reflection on what could/should have been.

I don’t want to rip the team apart – not at all. I feel, however, it would be wrong to put too much of a glossy shine on the performance. Arsenal were good in patches, but those promising spells went hand-in-hand with lacklustre defending and the needless giving away of possession. The key point was allowing Schalke back into the game on the stroke of half time – a goal that stemmed from Cazorla giving the ball away in midfield at a time we should really be concentrating.

Doing that was typically an ‘Arsenal’ thing to do – the Arsenal of present, at least. Up until that point we had looked fairly comfortable. Had we gone in 2-0 up at half time, I think we’d have seen the game out. Instead, the nerves kicked in and we looked defensively shaky in the second period. But for some excellent stops from the garishly pink, Vito Mannone, we might have ended up tasting defeat.  At left-back, Vermaelen didn’t look entirely at home, and he decided to wear silk-soled slippers instead of boots, but gave the team an air of greater stability by just being there in place of Santos.

Offensively, we looked better with a striking triumvirate of Walcott, Giroud and Podolski. That injection of pace Theo gives us in the final third is something we’ve lacked in recent weeks, and something that visibly terrifies defenders. By mere presence alone Theo can create space for others when the focus of the opposition is on his speed. He took his goal well – his 8th of the season.

I won’t pretend I wasn’t one of the people who stated they didn’t see Theo as a striker. I still have my doubts, but he is a good finisher, and he’s always a threat to defenders – even when he’s having one of his bad days. With his contract still unsigned, I’d like to see him given the opportunity to play up front. I’d rather he was given a chance with us.

It wasn’t the awe-inspiring performance we hoped for, but it’s a long way removed from being appalling. We’re on 7 points in the group with two games remaining. I’m confident we’ll go through, and I hope we aim for the top spot in order to miss any of the big teams in the knock-out rounds.

That’s all for today, folks. Thanks for reading, you splendid lifeforms. The comments below await an explosion of your views on the game. Happy with the result? Think the team could have played better? Concerned by just how many Arsenal players slip over during a game? Let me know.

I shall return tomorrow with more stuff.

14 thoughts on “Giroud, Walcott, Mannone, Cazorla, Vermaelen, and a bit of the good with a bit of the bad.”

  1. Pingback: Arsenal News
  2. What ever happened to the “BOULD” effect? Even if we might be toothless in attack sometimes I would love to see a lot more clean sheets. Our guys need proper boots also. They seem to always fall down at the wrong times.

  3. The current defence is a shambles. Vermaelen’s howler against United, Santos thinks he’s a centre forward, Koscielny doesnt mind scoring own goals at will and Mertesacker’s inability to fit into the English game is all of concern. At the beginning of the season Bould appeared to be doing a fine job, but as the season progresses on can see that the defence really is wayward. I’d say the honourable thing for Arsene Wenger to do is make way for a new coach with fresh ideas and fresh tactics and who can bring fresh life into the team. Are we starting to count towards a decade without trophies yet?

      1. Its the odd faux pas that ends up costing the team. They certainly aren’t Winterburn, Dixon, Adams and Keown u have to admit…

  4. igh time vermaleen isput on the bench. He has lost form since the beginning of the sason and yet wenger put him there for 90mins in all matches. He nids to e reminder that being the captaion doesnt mean automatic shirt. If Arsene creates competition among the players, they will sit up and put in their best week in weeek out. We are tired of this ugly mistakes at the back.

    1. You have to be joking! Verm has been a great defender for Arsenal. Normally solid. He is asked to play out of position. He gets a bit of bad form combined with some just plain bad luck and he suddenly must be benched. Wow. Who should replace him? Kos has also had some tough games recently. Every decent player would be demoralized and there would be no one left to start under those ridiculous criteria. The defence is actually far better than previous seasons. How about a little offence.

      When you are an actual coach you don’t have the luxury of following knee jerk ideas like benching your best players for some off games. Instead let us be more logical and bench players like Ramsey – he has been a disaster nearly every game he’s played in the past year.

      I agree – Mert has been the best CB this season.

  5. Wenger has lost the tactics and techniques of a winning coach. These players aslo lack the mentality of winners because they have not tasted it before. You could see that attitude in only Giroud on the field.They play as if nothing is at stake. Its high time Wenger is moved to the post of a director of football while a new, fresh, younger and hungry coach like Guardiola is given the chance to coach this term. We have the players, but they need a new coach with different mentality and approach to matches. Coach that will not settle for just champions league spot. The time is now!

  6. @James, I agree with most of your blog except for this part: “…the top spot in order to miss any of the big teams in the knock-out rounds.” For instance, being first in group can give you doubtful pleasure of playing against Real Madrid and it is questionable whether Bayern Muenchen, arguably the best European team at the moment, Juventus with Buffon, Chiellini and Pirlo, team that matched streak of our Invincibles of 49 matches without defeat (granted, in Serie A that is not as strong as it was in past two decades), or PSG lead by Ibrahimovi? will take top spot in their own group.

  7. It is one thing to let Walcott slip into the center to test his ability to play the central striker role. But why oh why is he taking free kicks/corner kicks when Arsenal have many players far better at this – Arteta, Poldi, Cazorla, Arshavin, Verm, Chamberlain just for a few examples.

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