Where do I even begin. I shut myself out from the media world immediately after the game. No reading of reports and see what the experts are saying. The only thing I saw was the post match transcript of Arsene Wenger on the official website. I heard he was late for the post match conference as he was still in the dressing room with his team. Probably having a right go at them and justifiably so.
The players and their connection via social networks would have found out before the game that Manchester United had won earlier. The gauntlet was thrown right back at us what with United having come from 2 goals down to win and scoring four in the process. Say whatever you like about the way United achieved their result, at that point we knew that if we slip up against Blackburn, the title chase might be over.
Sadly, that is how it turned out. Arsenal, in particular they team that trod out onto the pitch, seemed hell bent on proving the doubters right. That as it stands, we are not good enough for the title. That we lack the leadership and desire to excel at the highest level. More than most, that we lack conviction.
Apart from the opening and last 10 minutes of the game, we were never at the races. There’s almost an unspoken acceptance by the team that they have given up the fight. Play was not hurried and no one wanted to go the extra mile. I know I’m beating the same drum over and over again. But it is nights like this when your heart breaks as an supporter of Arsenal.
This was against a team in the worst run of games this season. A Lancashire team that has failed to keep a clean sheet throughout this Premier League season when not playing at Ewood Park. A team devoid of creative attacking options that they best laid plans was to soak up all the Arsenal pressure and defend stoutly. Even to that extend, Blackburn did the second part with much ease and comfort.
Except for Cesc Fabregas who was on the bench, we had best attacking options on the pitch. That they only managed to create 1 clear cut chance each for Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere was indicative of how flat our performance was. There is no doubt that both should have done better with their shot and should probably have scored. I mentioned previously that the team is very low on confidence attacking wise. I have no doubt it stemmed from our Carling Cup final defeat.
And in the last 10 minutes when things got desperate, Wenger played all his striking cards. Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner were added to the fray to provide assistance to Robin Van Persie. Naturally, with the aerial prowess of the former two, more crosses were delivered to the box. All the strikers got their head to the ball but none had the accuracy or the precision required. We just could not find the breakthrough. This despite Blackburn having to play the last 15 minutes with a man less after Steven Nzonzi was sent off for a two footed challenge.
I believe Wenger also has to absorb some of the blame with his decision. The one that particularly irked me was the substitution of Cesc Fabregas in the place of Andrey Arshavin. The Russian may have lost the ball a couple of times in the game but he was by far our most dangerous outlets. Propping up in different areas of the pitch and being largely very influential for us. Perhaps the change was made because the Russian was tiring but once Arshavin left the pitch, no one else stood up to the plate.
The final result was not nearly as disappointing as the performance. They left a lot to be desired. On this level, we will not win the league, even if there are further slip-ups from United. Not for the first time, it was not good enough.