Arsenal 2 – Crystal Palace 1
Scorelines sometimes never tell the complete story do they? This scoreline for instance at face value makes you feel it was an extremely close game, but was it? We had 76% possession, we have 14 shots on goal to Crystal Palaces’ 4, we had 9 corners, Palace had 3. The thing with supporting Arsenal over the years is that we love to make it hard.
It’s almost like the team sets out with the sole purpose to take us through different emotions to get some odd point they have in their heads across. How else would you explain conceding two against Hull in the FA Cup final before coming back to win it, or how we always manage to make finishing first in our Champions’ League groups such an arduous task, or giving Spurs a 10 point lead so we can fool them into thinking they will get into the champions league and then we snatch it back always on the last day. I am beginning to think this kind of conversation goes on in the dressing room.
Captain Arteta (applying some Spanish gel into his hair and speaks to everyone)– Hei mates, notice how all these fans have been buzzing all summer! All nice and happy because we won the cup and signed Alexis?
Team (everyone mutters) : Certainly Captain! Surely Captain! Spot on El Capitan!!
Captain Arteta (still gelling hair): How about we give them a little taste of what it used to feel like when we played badly.
Alexis (with his shorts almost pulled up to his waist) – How you wanna go about doing that, in Barca we just pass the ball among ourselves a million times until the crowd start shouting…
Arteta (still gelling) : No, we make it worse. We concede a goal in the first half and make them panic then we score just before half time and just before the match ends. That way we give them hope at the beginning , shock when we concede, some joy when we equalize, anxiety when we draaaaaagggg the game to the last minutes and then ORGASM when we win it at the end…
Ramsey (stroking his hair) – Can I get to score the winner since I am the new darling?
Sanogo (polishing his unbranded boots) – How about me Captain, I did four in Pre-Season, everyone loves me now.
Arteta (still gelling) – Hell NO Sanogo! I can’t that your worm like dance one more time, Ramsey you will score!
Ramsey (smiling) – Thanks Captain! I’ll order more gel for your already perfect hair!
Team then heads out of the Tunnel ready to make sure we experience every emotion that had planned. I could kill them..
To more serious things, the game itself was a lot tougher than I expected it to be especially considering they had just lost their manager. Palace set out to do three things, defend, waste time and wait to hit us from a set piece, and score from a set piece they did. While we are excited at the prospects of this new season, some of the problems of the team still exist
Palace had just 3 corners, and they scored from one and were extremely dangerous from the last corner when Szczesny was cluttered by the Palace players and the referee had to come to his rescue. Arsenal on the other hand, even though we scored from a set piece we were extremely useless from all our 9 corners. None really threatened the keeper, we rarely ever threaten from these positions, considering it’s recurring , is it that we do not practice it enough? Top clubs focus on making the best of every single opportunity to score. See this table below obtained from www.whoscored.com for goals scored from set pieces last season
[table id=1 /]
How is it that the teams that occupied the top three positions in the league last season also occupy the top spots in scoring goals from set pieces and penalties? Or is it some form of co-incidence? Arsenal are so far back on that chart we are not worthy of a mention. Opposition managers would look at Data like this and would not feel overly threatened when we have a corner to take. Wenger needs to fix this, especially considering we have the height in the team to take advantage of set pieces. Giroud, Sanogo, Koscienly, Mertesacker, Chambers all seem to have the height or the leap required to score from corners and we really need to take advantage of it.
Did you notice how the Crystal Palace left back was on vacation for most part of the game? Why do we have an apathy to playing through the left? We play a formation that is built to take advantage of wing play but we only fly with one wing. On paper, Santi is stationed to occupy that position but we all know he never does leaving Gibbs as our only real option down that flank. Podolski does his best to stay there but I feel that is largely because he isn’t he functional anywhere else.
You would think the team spotted a weakness on the right and are trying to exploit but in reality I feel our best players operate from there, Walcott, Oxlade and even Ozil when he intends to drift wide. Alexis has joined the fray now and the same force the ball through the right occurred. This is not helped by Santi always drifting inwards. I am sure I was not alone in noticing how our game largely improved with the introduction of Oxlade and Alexis moved to the left. Alexis started getting the ball down that flank and Oxlade was putting pressure everywhere else. This shows it is a personnel issue? Can Wenger fix this with his current set of players (Campbell, Podolski, and Santi) or a Di Maria like kind of player is needed to help us spread teams. Imagine Ozil in the middle with two pacy runners on both side of the pitch.
There surely is improvement to be made but the ingredients for success are easy to see in this team, playing against the top eight teams in the league is already difficult and no one needs to be dropping points against the likes of Crystal Palace.
In the end it was 3 hard earned points in the bag without our Germans and with Per back in the team, I do not expect us to concede the kind of goal Palace scored. It was purely down to organization and Per leads from behind with that. It’s a recipe for a good week though, on to the next one and the one after that and the one after the one after that. ReallyCrossRoss should have his post up tomorrow where he compares our performance against our title rivals so do visit the site.
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Cheers Friends, lets interact in the comments section below or on Twitter on @canoncrested anything relating to suspected Dressing room talk to issues that still exist in the team or just to laugh at Man United.