It’s only October and yet, this is already our 4th defeat in the Premier League. Depending on where your standpoint is, one could judge this latest one. For me, it was far worse than the hiding we got at Old Trafford. Not least because it’s the North London Derby but also because unlike the United game, we had the players on the pitch that could’ve matched them.
Yes, we did miss a few players but the side that we put out at the Lane yesterday, was more than capable of producing a result. Although to be perfectly honest, there were surprises at the starting line-up. Francis Coquelin was preferred to Emmanuel Frimpong. The fear with the latter boils down to this being a derby and his penchant for dishing out fouls and collecting card.
In his place, Coquelin’s performance was more than pleasing. He has a wonderful positional sense and chooses the right moment to put in tackles. It is harsh for the French youngster who has so far started 2 Premier League games and both have ended in defeats. Hopefully he takes all these in and continue to improve as a player.
Coquelin wasn’t the only one who can be seen to be giving it his all. Unfortunately, there were only 2 other players who can walk away with their head held high. Wojciech Szczesny had another blinder of a game. Saving one-on-ones against Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael Van der Vaart.
But if we can praise him, we can also lay some blame on him for the winning goal. Initially, I thought he was unsighted and only saw the ball at the last moment. But on further replay views from different angle, Szczesny’s view was not blocked. Yes, the ball swerved and dipped but the Pole should’ve done better. That is not to absolve the abject defending in front of him who could’ve closed Kyle Walker down faster and better.
Last of those praise goes to captain, Robin Van Persie. He was carrying the fight to Spurs all on his own. Held the ball well but with no one beside him, he cuts a very lonely figure. When he had to drop deep to make the play or get involve, no one took the opportunity to drive forward into the empty space vacated by the Dutchman. RvP needs help and he can’t do it all alone every single time.
The rest of the team were more like passengers in the match. For what we have gone through this season thus far, it was disheartening to see the home side being more up for this match than we were. One would think that Arsenal would have more to prove but sadly, that was not how it pan out.
The passing statistics might tell a different story and the numbers could very well be in the high 80% plus. Passes were astray and not up to mark. It was evident that we could not keep hold of the ball. We kept giving the ball away straight from goal kicks, throw ins and free kicks.
The goals we conceded were more than preventable as well. The first one, the marking was non-existent. Yes, it was a handball and Mike Dean being the fool that he is, decided to let the goal stand. However, there was no excuse for our defending. Adebayor was afforded space on the right without being closed down. Bacary Sagna was behind the play and could see VDV’s run but failed to track him. The second goal is as mentioned earlier.
To make matters worse, Sagna had to be stretchered off with a broken fibula. It will cost him 3 months of playing time. It’s hardly a revelation to say that we’re going to miss him. He’s the best right back in the country by a mile and every team will miss a player like him.
In fact, it was evident straight away. His replacment, Carl Jenkinson had a match to forget. Constantly being outrun and outpaced by Gareth Bale. The former Charlton player does have potential but the matches are coming too soon for him, I fear. Coquelin will be a possible candidate at right back having played there for the reserves before. One more decision for Arsene Wenger to make.
We got our equalising goal and that was the only time we overload on the attack. It was the only time when we had more players forward than Spurs have defending. Alex Song stayed behind from a corner kick but somehow the ball was cleared towards him. Then he just drove to the byline and provided the low cross from which Aaron Ramsey blasted in.
We only took 10 minutes of initiative from this before the pattern of play went back to the way it was before. We could not capitalise further on this period of ascendency on our part. Perhaps Wenger could’ve brought another striker in. Everything was going through the middle with Gervinho and Theo Walcott looking very much like they are unfit and it was evidently clear about that.
The form is not great despite the 3 back-to-back home wins. The new loss would cut away a big part of the confidence gained from those wins. It seems almost as if, every time we suffer a damaging defeat, the internationals come around.
Just like it did before, this break for international matches has come at the right time too. I want to say, it will help the players to be away for some time and clear their heads and come back with renewed vigour and confidence. But that notion sounds very overly used at the moment.
I can’t offer any possible points on how we can improve from here. Not at this point in time any way. It is still only in early October and the old cliché of plenty of games left to be played, is still true. We just have to have faith that the management and the team will find their way back. They must. Oh, this is torturous.