We were shit. We were very poor.
Very temped to just leave the entire match review as that because that won’t be sugar coating anything. Arsene Wenger also went down the same route in his post match conference, describing the performance as an illusionary domination. That result and the others from yesterday’s round of fixtures meant that we now go 10 points behind leaders, Chelsea. The position in the table is no big indication of how this season will pan out but the gap is. That is, if we consider the Premier League as a viable place to challenge for trophy.
Going back to what Wenger said, the ball possession is what he meant. 72% was in our favour for that game, yet we couldn’t turn any of that possession into meaningful assault on the Norwich goal. Notice I use the word meaningful and not successful because that was just how bad we were. John Ruddy, in goal for the Canaries, must still be shaking his head in disbelief that he was not call upon to make a single save worthy of his salary. Collecting crosses and over-hit passes is surely a small percentage of what he’s paid to do.
There are lacklustre games and then there’s what we did yesterday. Nobody seemed to be in the game. Wenger put up one possibility which is we underrated the difficulty that we were going to face. Or in other words, we thought we would win by just turning up. Now, perhaps fans are guilty as much. Before the game, an away win was the only possible outcome we could think of. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t put in the same quality of shift that we’ve done this season. It’s a virus that keeps popping up in the bloodstream of the team. Which is strange because I’m not sure that is the kind of thinking that should be going through the minds of players who have not won anything.
The marking for the goal that Grant Holt score was abject. There were not a single player close enough to close down Alexander Tettey’s shot. If you allow your opponent to take a free shot at goal without anyone bearing down on him, then you’re only asking for trouble. Holt also stole a march on Per Mertesacker, reacting quicker to the possibility of a rebound. Vito Mannone could have done better and push the ball out to the side instead of back towards the centre of the goal. That said, there was a massive swerve on that Tettey shot and the ball did bounce just right in front of Mannone.
Perhaps there’s another time to go into how bad each specific individual is. This time around, it was just a collective poorness from the entire team. Perhaps Mikel Arteta could sleep a little better than the rest but that’s about it, from those who started the game. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, put on to be the speedy option to try and stretch Norwich was on the field for less than 10 minutes as he suffered a hip injury. The change that was to negate the home side’s high defence line backfired almost immediately. One bright spark from last night’s game was Serge Gnabry. The young German played with a sense of urgency that the others in red and white were lacking. Assured and always demanding for the ball, he looked a real prospect.
All this does feel a little too familiar for comfort. We’ve seen the team do this before. Struggling to raise themselves up for a game against the lesser lights of the Premier League. Or in a more crude manner, couldn’t be arsed about the match. No one’s going to hand us the match and 3 points on a silver platter. Time for the team to realise that.