Hardly any better than Saturday was it? I believe you and me are all looking for a response from the team. Sadly that never came. No highs this time, no first half lead to celebrate, just abysmal abject performance all the way. So much for the immediate response that the players themselves said that this Champions League will give.
Where does this defeat put us then? Still 2nd in the group by virtue of record breaking scoring spree in the earlier games, Arsenal are now tied on 9 points with Sporting Braga. Barring further embarrassment at home against Partizan Belgrade, we should still qualify from the group but the possibility of winning the group should have almost escaped us entirely.
Finishing runners-up could pit us against Barcelona or Real Madrid in the next phase. There are no easy ties anywhere but surely it could have been much better to avoid those 2 this early in the competition. Putting ourselves in such position after our storming start to the European campaign is baffling. Arsenal practically handed a beating to each and every team in the first round of fixtures. Yet, two continuous losses put us at risk of not even progressing through the group stages.
Does the 2 goals that we concede today look freakishly similar to you? Yes, it was on the counter attack and yes it is our Achilles ankle. We conceded a similar breakaway goal to the Spuds on Saturday when Gareth Bale ran through to slid home the ball. This time it was Matheus who did the damage. To make matters worse, he repeated the same effort in stoppage time to send Arsenal reeling from another defeat in Portugal. We had never won in that particular country and hardly look anything like changing that fact yesterday.
On both occasion we had men back to cover. We had numbers over the opposition. Yet, they were simply allowed to go further and further forward and closer and closer to Fabianski’s goal. The nearer they get to the goal, the harder it is for tackles to be made. Hence, the chance for Matheus to slam 2 goals past our Polish keeper. You’ve got to pity Fabianski. He had no saves to make in the last 2 games, yet he collected the ball from the net 5 times already.
Why not take the man out when the first tackle doesn’t succeed and when seeing that the opposition player is advancing to a dangerous position? I’m not asking for leg-crunching stuff but maybe just a slight nudge to knock him over. Why aren’t our players professional enough to make such fouls? Yet, in other parts of the field, these kind of fouls are done excessively when there is no imminent danger.
It would be far too easy to go to town with any particular player on this defeat but this is a collective team failure than an individual one. I’m sure Cesc Fabregas is tired of having to be the one and only player to lift his team up. I wonder what is playing on the minds of players when they see that the team is suffering. Do they think that they should have stepped up and do a little more just to urge the team on? Shouldn’t the thinking be more along the lines of “alright, Cesc don’t look like he fancies this. I drive this team for this game”.
The team is young but an experienced one at that. These players have amassed 200 league appearances individually and that is a lot of games. How is it that they have not grown and not learn from their mistakes. Was this the first time that we’ve been hit on the counter attack? Remember Manchester United 2 seasons ago in the Champions League? I am boring myself out by harping the same things over and over again.
Arsene Wenger talks about the penalty that was not given to Carlos Vela. Yes, it was injustice to the Mexican on his rare appearance for Arsenal these days. The referee would look back at that video and realise his folly in showing Vela the yellow card. But the thing is, apart from that incident, we created nothing. To add insult to injury, we now have injuries to Fabregas and Emmanuel Eboue. The captain once again unhinged by his hamstring problem.
I know it’s all doom and gloom at the moment but everything is entirely justified. Just so we end in a slightly happier mood, here’s Aaron Ramsey returning to match action.