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Eating him on the inside

The press conference after the Sunday’s lost to Bolton was about as damning a statement in which you’ll ever hear from Arsene Wenger. This was a weary Wenger who finally succumbed to the failings of his team and subsequently surrendered on the title chase. He ask us to blame it all on him. Sure, he held a major part of the responsibility but the fault is not his own to bear.

A manager can only lay down the tactics and prepare his team in the right way. A manager can only pick the best players available to him with the intention of winning a football match. Like I said in my match review yesterday, it is hard to blame the manager when this is the same outfield side which beat Chelsea at their pomp and yet failed to deliver the same performance against Bolton. The players shares as much of the responsibilities as the manager.

By his own admission, there is no need for any papers or online media or bloggers or supporters to continue to tell Wenger what went wrong for the team. Those 2 admissions are here and here. The first of which speaks about our defence. It is no secret to Wenger either that there’s no leader in his defence. We are not talking about someone who barks at the players throughout the 90 minutes. But someone who can organize the defence to cover all angles.

Once that is done, individual players have to ensure that their marking are spot-on. Concentration is the key, otherwise one can easily lose track of the opposition’s run. Too many times have we seen the goals that we concede via set piece are more down to lackadaisical defending rather than our inabilities. Opposition players are allowed free passage once they start making runs and movement. Whether Wenger is thinking that the way to strengthen the squad is via the return of one Thomas Vermaelen or a replacement for Sebastien Squillaci, it remains to be seen.

The second talks about how vulnerable we’ve been despite taking leads in a football match. Our team goes on self destruct mode once the scoreboard shows that we are a goal or two up. We’ve seen how even 4 goals are not enough to guarantee us a victory. One thing which is clear is that if we start the game like we wanted to and start scoring a couple of goals, the pace of our game drops off.

On one hand, the team reverts to a more pragmatic approach. With the score on our side, there is no need to go chasing the game and we can be slightly negative with our tactics. But this method only invites the opposition back into the game and more towards our goal. On the other hand, the team remained in attacking mode and see that as an opportunity to get more goals. The team becomes slack and takes the opposition for granted, putting more players forward than required. This method can backfire should the opposition possess good counter attacks.

There is really not one single solution to this problem. We need to learn to play it both ways. To be able to exploit the space as well as able to guard our backline. Apart from that, there are other ways perhaps. If I know it all, I wouldn’t site here and explain it to you.

More tomorrow.