Before I get to today’s point of discussions, I was reminded by a reader that I failed to mentioned the contributions of one Andrey Arshavin in Sunday’s win. For that I apologize. Somehow, it slipped my mind when I was doing the post. Really should start writing down the points that I want to make.
The little Russian do deserve a special mention. Normally in his case, accolades are reserved for his exploits at the opposite end of the field trying to get us a goal. This time, it is for his defensive displays. It was almost as if Arsene Wenger saw how Nani and Rafael was getting into the game more and wanted more protection for Gael Clichy. If based on that notion, how Arshavin is selected ahead of Kieran Gibbs is beyond me. Of course, he was also substituted in because of an injury to Samir Nasri.
However, the captain of Russia did his part. Crunching into challenge in the right sort of way and providing that cover Clichy was seeking. In the entire 45 minutes of the second half, Arshavin had 12 successful passes, 2 interceptions, 3 tackles won and 2 successful clearances. It was without a doubt the best defensive performance that he has given us in an Arsenal shirt. We’ve all lamented on his workrate throughout the season but on this performance, we’ve nothing to complain about. I’m hopeful this is a start to the new Arshavin.
In the post game interviews, most of the Arsenal players admitted that they’ve performed below par this season. Nasri pinpointing the setback of the Carling Cup final defeat stung a little more than it should be. While Wojciech Szczesny admitted that we were not the most consistent of teams. Justifying it by claiming that it was easier to play without the pressure. I’m not sure that is entirely the case.
We need to learn to recover faster from any setbacks and not to let in linger with every increasing game. I don’t like to use United as a comparison but one can only use what is in front of them. When United loses a game, more often than not, they bounce back immediately. Doing it the United way helps to eradicate that self-doubt feeing immediately. If left unchecked, we could have a repeat of this season where the players seemed to wallow in their failures and expectantly give in to the fact that they could concede at any time.
Meanwhile, Szczesny’s statement is harder to stomach. Are we only capable of producing that type of performance when there are no pressure on us? A club like Arsenal Football Club are expected to win every single game that they play. We wouldn’t be chastised by the media if we are not under pressure to win trophies. It goes hand in hand.
The mentality is what is going to help the players. The players need to learn how to cope with pressure of winning games, winning trophies and picking up advantages. We can mix the pressure of winning and the handbrakes off together via mental approach. If the team views every game the same as how they approach Sunday’s game, then we might finally take that step over the finish line. Of course, this is easier said than done. Perhaps there could be a need for a psychological doctor present in the team, who knows.
Right, that is that and let’s see the finale to the El Classico for 2011/12.