The Armchair Gooner

An Arsenal blog bringing you news, opinion and humour on a daily basis. Well, I'll try at the very least…

Monreal, Ozil, The Flame and Arteta; Bitterness in the Face of a Crippling… Errr…. Draw.

Giroud celebrates with Cazorla. I have no idea what he’s trying to do…

Morning folks.

Before I get into my review of the game, I feel it’s best to start by complimenting our opponents. Arsenal were undeniably poor last night, but that shouldn’t be used as a way of describing the result when Southampton acquitted themselves admirably. From the kick-off, they hassled and pressured and imposed their own passing game on us once they gained possession.

In Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw they have 2 of the best prospects in the Premiership and they’ll do well to hold on to either. When the big boys come waving their cheque books, it’ll be a great shame to see such a good side dismantled, but such is the modern game. I genuinely believe Southampton could push for one or two honours if they can keep the nucleus of their squad intact.

In the first half, Arsenal were woefully abject. We’ve hardly fired on all cylinders at times this season, but have always shown enough in the important moments to rightfully get results. Yesterday evening we floundered and could quite easily have found ourselves trailing by a greater margin at the break were it not for fortune and some excellent defending from Koscielny.

A lot will be made of the Flamini-Arteta ‘double pivot’ that started the game. It seems there’s another split faction amongst Arsenal fans; folks vehemently prefer one over the other and feel they are unsuited to play together. I’ve made no secret my love of The Flame, but it doesn’t in any way come at the expense of Arteta. Just because I prefer one doesn’t mean I dislike the other. Far from it. Truthfully, both were poor. Arteta looked slow and off the pace, Flamini couldn’t make up his mind which role he was playing and acted quite foolishly to get himself sent off – If you go in two-footed like he did, then you have to expect the worst. He should know better. He’ll miss 4 games, and we’ve some very important ones coming up.

The real stinker of the evening was had by Nacho Monreal. Usually such and assured and confident performer, nothing went right for our Spanish friend. I doubt think it’s anything to fret about. Every player can claim to have had ‘one of those days’ in his time and last night was Nacho’s. It’s a shame. He was just beginning to give Arsene real selection difficulties at full-back. I thinks it’s safe to assume Gibbs will start the next game.

The second half began with an upturn in fortune. Having played so poorly, we suddenly found ourselves leading 2-1 thanks to decent finishes from Cazorla and Giroud.  Alas, it lasted mere minutes and a defence that has been resolute and impenetrable in recent weeks decided to concede poorly soon afterwards. All in all, it wasn’t Arsenal’s evening and looking back at it, a point wasn’t the worst outcome at all. St mary’s is a tough place to go, and if Southampton continue playing that way, they’ll take further points from many other teams.

In a performance that won’t go down as one of our better, one player did stand out; Mesut Ozil. After a tepid showing in the first period, he came out eager to impress and make things happen in the second. He assisted Cazorla’s goal, and at one point exploded through Southampton’s midfield as if it didn’t exist only to see his shot deflected onto the crossbar. It was truly breathtaking. More so than any other, he was keen to start attacks and showed a few glimpses of just how f**king brilliant he is. I’ve said there’s so much more to come from him in the future. As he grows in stature and becomes more accustomed to the pace of English football, he’ll come into his own. When that happens, we’re in for a treat.

As you might expect, Arsenal’s poor performance opened the floodgates on the Internet. You’d be forgiven for thinking Armageddon was upon us the way some react. I understand frustration at the result and I don’t dispute it’s fair to criticise. However… Some people need to lighten up. We drew a tough away game. It’s not the end of our season. Other teams will drop points to and there’s still a long way to go until May. We’re still very much in this.

The evening’s misery wasn’t finished at the final whistle. Afterwards, news broke that Aaron Ramsey would be out somewhere in the region of 6 weeks having suffered an injury setback. The injury has since be confirmed by Arsene, but the duration was not and it’s hoped it won’t be as long as initially suggested.

With that in mind, as well as The Flame’s suspension, Arsene was quizzed about potential incomings. His reaction was:

“We’re hoping to have some news for you”

Accompanied by this face:

Who knows, folks – maybe he has something up his sleeve to dazzle us all with before Friday.  However, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. I find approaching transfers in any other way invariably leads to disappointment.

That’s all for today. There’s a comments section below in which you may share your thoughts and frustrations regarding the result. Remember; be nice to each other. Debate until you’re blue in the face, but any abuse won’t be shared or tolerated.

I’m off to prepare some podcast bits and have a cup of tea. I shall return tomorrow with more. As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

Category: Match reviews
  • isaac says:

    Its a point gained lets focus on the next game and i hope the boss is bringing in 1 or 2 quality players ,hope Jack will be available on Sunday to help Arteta since Ramsey and Flamin are not available

    January 29, 2014 at 9:27 am
  • lance says:

    agreed that the draw is not the end of the world. whats worrying is our excellent displays are not regular. we have been getting the points but why are we not performing more regular like we did against napoli(3-1). our ” A GAME ” needs to start now and we need to kill of teams to get confidence.

    January 29, 2014 at 9:35 am
  • ben says:

    the saints like other minnows only play well against Arsenal, but when they meet other teams they collapse like dead leaves.

    January 29, 2014 at 9:39 am
  • MM says:

    Lance I agree with u if we really want to win any trophy this season we need to up our game for every match .that creates confindence and make teams afraid of u

    January 29, 2014 at 9:48 am
  • Andreas says:

    I think it is very sad that Wenger is renewing his contract. The man is absolutely beyond reasonability during the last years. With a few expensive and top class signings which my grandmother could have thought, he could have made Arsenal the permanent champions. He plays with Monreal a player who could not play in the second division of a strong league in any European country.He has a tremendous and obvious scoring problem and he lets out Podolski who scored 2 goals in the previous game (he even substitutes him with Giroud !!!!!).Although he completely looses control in the centre he lets in Flamini and he lets out Rozinsky or Ramsey or anybody else who is a good midfield organizer and controller.He repeatedly excuses his keeper stupid mistakes that cost.There are so many unseasonable things to say about Wenger.

    January 29, 2014 at 9:55 am
    • James 'Raul' Stokes says:

      @Andreas: That’s such a knee-jerk response. Monreal had one bad game. ‘Rozinsky’ and Ramsey were both injured.

      January 29, 2014 at 11:26 am
  • chawqi says:

    good piece

    January 29, 2014 at 9:55 am
  • Chris du Banane says:

    Agreed. And it’s good to hear a level-headed response. Not our best night but we got a draw from a strong team.

    January 29, 2014 at 10:10 am
  • Mr. Sims says:

    100% with you on this post. Damn shame about Flamini’s foolishness because we need his energy in the middle of the park, but it’s not over yet; not even close. Twas only a mere few seasons ago that saw a raging Man City piss away an 18 point lead only to scrape by with the closest of finishes. Man U that season also pissed away an 8 point lead and since the league has gotten more competitive since then, well then there’s a lot more to come.

    Hopefully we sign someone by Friday. I even jokingly made the suggestion that the lads lost on purpose so Le Prof would make some signings. Now that Ramsey and Flamini are out, I don’t think we have much choice.

    January 29, 2014 at 10:13 am
  • bc says:

    I know everyone wants to see us win the league in style but it is just as exciting to win the league just and without style. Look at 1971/1989 wining those two seasons stand out, more for me than any other and we never looked winning either until the last few minutes.I actually thought we was poor yesterday but we still came away with a point and had to deal with a sending off.

    January 29, 2014 at 10:14 am
  • nijwm says:

    hi james, you pointed out the debate about the arteta-flamini partnership. do you prefer both start games or just one of them? i’m in that camp that thinks the partnership stifles arsenal’s attacking play. i don’t agree with argument about the extra defensive solidity the partnership is supposed to provide. if it’s a risk playing only one of them, i’d be willing to take the risk, at least the attacking thrust and energy would be higher if either one of ramsey, wilshere or rosicky play with either one of arteta or flamini.

    as for flamini, i appreciate his passion, commitment and aggression. but aggression must be used at the right time under the right circumstances and in the right way. an area of the pitch where southampton were not directly threatening sczezny’s goal and he lunges into schneiderlin. 9 out of 10 times such challenges end in dismissal in today’s game. he really should’ve known better, specially since arsenal were playing badly and needed 11 men to stand any chance of snatching all 3 points.

    the first half was of course, the poorest i have seen arsenal so far this season. the way arsenal were ceding possession and watching on helplessly as southampton passed around slickly was a depressing and frustrating sight for me. cazorla, arteta, flamini were of guilty of misplacing passes.

    regarding the podolski puzzle- i was wishing he’d start. not to be. instead gnabry starts. the young guy is a talent. but there will always be hits and misses before he becomes an experienced pro at some point in the future. unfortunately he didn’t do enough for me in the game.

    regarding substitutions- we all know wenger rarely makes substitutions before the 65-70 min mark. but before flamini’s dismissal, podolski could’ve been introduced.

    regarding the squad- forget the striking options or central defence. if as reported ramsey is out for 4-6 weeks, then we have flamini suspended for 3-4 games, and an injury prone wilshere, an ageing arteta, our midfield also looks somewhat thin. hopefully, wilshere is back soon and ramsey’s setback is not major. but such daunting fixtures in feb and march makes me think that wenger should do something till the window closes.

    January 29, 2014 at 11:04 am
  • Pitch says:

    Great post James, I think Southampton’s excellent performance has been overshadowed by the hysterical overreaction to an away draw against a quality opponent. I also feel a bit for Flamini, it was a pretty crude tackle but at the time Southampton were dominating possession and Flamini was trying to make something happen, the game was well and truly up for grabs and I was shouting at the TV for someone to make a tackle and get the ball back.

    That comment from Wenger and the Ozilish grin gives me hope for this transfer window, we could be on the verge of a stunning last ditch swoop for a Chelsea/ManU/ManCity long time target with a massive “indecent” bid!

    January 29, 2014 at 11:53 am
    • Stephen says:

      “ozilish grin” I love it.
      good post Raul. I have been a regular reader and your fan for 2 years. i’ve not missed a post since first.

      January 30, 2014 at 10:45 am
  • Admir says:

    Hello, James.

    Just popped to ask you a question: wouldn’t it be great had Liverpool signed Jesus Navas this January? Then we would have had tons of articles with “Moses and Jesus fight for the right-wing place”-pun.

    Anyway, agree with you about Shaw and Lallana. Tremendous talents.

    January 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm
  • MQ says:

    Giroud needs to run after every ball when he loses it he either pouts are yells at the hair goods?? He set up the 1st Southampton goal by not trying to chase after giving ball away. GIve Shaw credit for excellent crosses in the box. If LK wasn’t in lineup would’ve got crushed. Santi needs to pass too way too much dribbling? Well hope Shitty drop points. Peace

    January 29, 2014 at 2:21 pm
  • Joy says:

    No comments for now from me until shitty and the chevs drop points. Still pissed!

    January 29, 2014 at 2:53 pm

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