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.