In all my years supporting Arsenal, I have not seen a more pathetic home display as I did yesterday as the Gunners lost 0-1 at home to Newcastle United.
I am not one to criticize the squad unnecessarily but I feel that yesterday’s performance was simply shocking. Did they turn up expecting to stroll along and win the game by simply willing the goals to come? We have lost too many games like that in the recent past and I feel it is a dangerous attitude that needs to change.
I could easily console myself with the fact that the four English teams in the Champions’ League were suffering from some form of hang over as except for Man Utd who needed a very late goal to beat Wolves who we play on Wednesday the other two teams Chelsea and Tottenham suffered rather tame defeats to Liverpool and Bolton respectively. However, I will not indulge in such as the Newcastle game was one we could have won had the real Arsenal team showed up. Who were those guys anyway?
Since Arsene Wenger became manager in 1996, Arsenal have only lost four games to promoted teams in the league and two of those losses have come this season. It might also interest you (via @orbinho) to know that Chelsea have lost two games this season away at title rivals and on the same day on each occasion Arsenal have lost at home against a promoted team.
Cesc Fabregas was at his worst. His very first pass in the game was misplaced and he continued to do that through out the game. Cesc Fabregas misplaced 27 passes against Newcastle, his worst ever tally in a Premier League game and his second worst completion rate in a game since the start of 2006. I really would love to call names and tell it as it is but I feel while the blame should lie on the entire team with the manager and the captain bearing the greatest responsibility to the fans. Are we going to get an apology then? Not likely!
Still, I question Wenger's bizarre tactics in the game. He has my support but while I think a different approach to the game might have produced a better result, I feel that as long as we had the same set of players on the pitch that the outcome would remain the same. Wenger doesn’t usually make tactical changes and when you see him make changes before the hour mark, you can tell he is on the edge.
His greatest strength to me is his stubbornness and he has the results to prove it. However, sacrificing that leaves us in a realm of the unknown.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t ever remember Arsenal winning a tie where we made tactical changes shortly after half-time in a bid to change the pattern of play. The Arsenal way as I know it to be is the patient one. Keeping it simple—by that I mean pass the ball around till you score. What was that hoofing of the long ball we saw yesterday? Arsenal isn’t quite that team and I still believe that had we stuck to our original strategy we would have pulled of a result.
It would be easy to blame Fabianksi for the goal but both defenders in front of him deserve as much stick for it as they can get. Andy Carroll is a beast and I don’t think Fabianksi could have done anything better. The defenders were watching only the ball when they should also have been watching the eager Carroll who had sneaked in between them and the goalkeeper to score with Newcastle’s first attempt on goal.
Credit must be given to the Magpies for the way they set up their play throughout the game. They were physical and determined and were able to contain a limp Arsenal side that was a shadow of their worst. In all I can say I am greatly disappointed. The team has been predictably inconsistent for a while and if we do not stem this trend especially in the month of November as is the norm, we are headed for a dangerous slump in fortunes.
I wasn’t too surprised to see Robin Van Persie make a return to the first team and although he looked sharp, you get the feeling that Wenger really only played him because we were losing at home knowing that a scandal would be in the brewing if he ended up playing for Holland before playing for Arsenal. Jack Wilshere also had a decent game on his return to action following his suspension and all I can say is that we mustn’t take his consistency for granted. He is still only about 18 and still has a long way to go and improve.
Another red card for Koscielny yet again raises question marks about our discipline and I hope that the boss has a word with team as a whole on the need to tone down on the challenges. It's either that or our players are being unfairly targeted by referees. Take your pick!
Our home form in the league this season has been suspect and some people have blamed the atmosphere or the lack of it at the Emirates for this. I must admit that the crowd can be the 12th man on the pitch for any team. You only have to go to grounds like Anfield, Old Trafford or even St Andrews and you can feel the electric passion of the supporters. The Arsenal crowd seem to be “too cultured” to stand up and give a roar for the team other than the occasional chants started by RedAction.
I do hope the club take this point into note and encourage the fans to be more vocal in their support at the stadium. I know I sing my heart out each time I’m at the Emirates Stadium but who am I other than a visiting Gooner from Nigeria. By the way, I managed to find someone with a spare ticket for the Tottenham game so I will be in the upper tier on the 20th of November cheering our team.
Word about is that Aaron Ramsey looks set to return from injury in time for the Reserve clash against Wolves on the 23rd of this month. Fingers crossed.
Till next time...Victoria Concordia Crescit.