On Monday, an internet friend of mine, JamrockRover, wrote the following comment:
"With only 1 clean sheet in 7 league games our weakness at the back is killing our chances at the moment. "
It was in response to our ability to go to an away match and set up shop, defending strongly, and then playing on the counter attack. Much the same way as Chelsea played against us, despite being at home and normally having the initiative to play.
One of our greatest problems is that we are unable to play like the Arsenal of old. We aren´t capable, or at least comfortable putting 10 men behind the ball and knocking some long balls up for Chamakh to hopefully win and having players like Nasri, Arshavin and, when fit, Walcott, run on to. Like a flaming troop of zealots, salivating of the prospect of scraps of the ball, which they may once or twice a game, use to score a glorious goal of goally gloriosity.
Or something along those lines.
Anyway, the point is, we can´t be relied upon to play that way, which is unfortunate because sometimes you need to set up shop. Sometimes you need to be able to comfortably defend a two goal lead for 30 minutes, or even survive the first half without conceding a goal when you are away from home against the champions.
Sometimes us fans need to be able to sing "1 - 0 to the Arsenal" without it being a pisstake.
Sunday certainly still stings for me. However, I can´t say I was very surprised with the result. I told most of my mates I´d thought we´d lose 3 - 0. I think with our full team, it would have been a different story.
For example, Cesc would have been a bit more incisive in his passing. The opportunity Vela had when he was played through and miscontrolled the ball, would have been deftly absorbed by RVP´s chocolate leg, and he might have tucked it away with aplomb. Vermaelen also might have helped us out at the back, etc.
Almunia... well he wouldn´t have done anything positive, so that injury was a blessing.
Well all know about Arsenal´s plethora of injuries and the silly-sounding nature of the pub-remarks of an Arsenal fan who claims we would have done the league last year if it weren´t for "X" number of 1st team players being injured all the team. I myself have made such comments.
However, just because it sounds a bit pathetic doesn´t make it any less true. I think its unrealistic for us, as Arsenal fans, to think that we can possibly compete with teams like Chelsea, United, and maybe even City, when we are missing 5 players who would play in my starting line-up almost every game (RVP, Cesc, Verm, Almunia [sigh], and Theo) and another three who would make the bench (Ramsey, Bendtner, and Gibbs).
I mean when we look at the teams this weekend. How many players from the Arsenal starting line-up would you put into the Chelsea 11?
1, 2? In fact, post in the comment´s section if you like what your combination team would be... on the players that played this Sunday and I think you´ll see that we are grossly outnumbered by fuckers in blue.
Sad stuff? Yes. A bit of a reality check? Yes.
So here´s to the return fixture in Emirates when we can field a "proper team" and get ourselves back into the title race.
Sagna - Alex - Terry - Cole
Essien - Mikel - Nasri
Arshavin - Drogba - Malouda
and I might even play Anelka instead of Arshavin, but we´ll have to see how things pan out.