Phew! I guess we all just got a real life 90 minutes session on how not to win a football match. Actually, we got a two part version. The first ten minutes was “How to deceive people you intend to win a football match” and then the remainder of the 90 was the real lesson on “how to go out and f**k things all up”.
The thing with football when you lose and especially when you lose scandalously is that you cannot wrap your head around why you do this to yourself. You definitely are not going to win all the time so if you support a club that wins more than it loses then you have chosen wisely. How do we manage to put so much emotion into a relationship we have absolutely no control over.
With love, one party causes another hurt, you can apologize, kiss and make up. With a banking relationship or your favourite departmental store, you get bad service, you can either lay a formal complaint to get the service you desire or you just close the account and move on especially when you are recipient of repeated bad service. With Arsenal, we can all agree that repeated bad service is now almost a culture still we remain.
Everything that could go wrong against Monaco went wrong, individual errors leading to goals, collective lack of defensive cohesion that also led to goals, lack of any manner of enthusiasm especially in the first half led to us scoring no goals in that half, lack of composure in front of goal ensured we didn’t score enough to earn us anything and the passing, my word!! You would think we fielded 11 Stevie Wonders.
Passing Stats according to WhoScored shows above half the team couldn’t even make a rating of 7.
*You can find all stats about the game here: http://www.whoscored.com/Matches/904252/LiveStatistics/Europe-UEFA-Champions-League-2014-2015-Arsenal-Monaco
The Manager definitely would come in for some stick but before you do so what would you answer be to these questions
- Would you have picked a different starting eleven?
- Did you think we would play this badly with the starting eleven when you saw it?
- How much motivation do you think International players need to perform in a Champions League game?
To the first, like I stated on my post yesterday the only change I would have made with the team that started the game would have been to bring Theo Walcott rather than Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal instead of Gibbs. With hindsight I am certain a lot of fans would also drop BFG but when you saw his name on the team sheet did you feel the inclination that he shouldn’t have started beside Koscienly?
I am not a big fan of the away goals rule, to be honest I am not a big fan of anything that brings any form of complication to how a football game is won and it’s for the same reason I disliked the Golden Goal rule when it was brought into effect. My preference for Theo yesterday was simply because in the Champions League you need to take as much advantage of your home tie as possible which means score goals and that is not Welbeck’s forte.
Tweeted yesterday that my main problem with Welbeck was that I usually have to think too deep to remember goals he has scored. With Theo at least I am expectant. Everything Welbeck does in front of goal ends with “ooooohhhs and aaahhhsss” and sometimes what you really need is “BOOM”. Let’s just say he is not the guy that would get you many “BOOMS” in a season. It’s on this basis that I was also disappointed with the decision to leave him on the pitch and take Giroud out who definitely has a much propensity to score. Yes, he was having a mare yesterday but if I was a betting man I’ll put my money on Giroud to score 10 times before Welbeck gets one. Two goals down with a game to chase, Welbeck is not the guy I am going to war with.
Did I think the team was going to play this badly when I saw the lineup? Definitely not!! Even though I have my preferred players but to be honest, for the first time in a very long time I am not really a keen on who starts for Arsenal these days. This is borne out of my strong belief in the quality of the squad that we have.
Bellerin is slightly ahead of Chambers, Gibbs and Monreal are seemingly at par, Kos and Per are first choice defensive partnership as I haven’t seen enough of Gabriel, same reason why I was reluctant to jump on the “Ospina is the greatest thing since Coke started selling bottles with names” band wagon, there is no alternative to Coquelin, and up front any combination that starts as long as Cazorla is on the pitch I can live with. So was the team on paper good enough to get a result? I feel certainly it was and the chances were there to take even after we went two goals down.
How they combined to be so awful beats me. Ozil was back to the “someone that I used to know”, Cazorla bar his run in early on in the game was simply a passenger, Giroud obviously had his head somewhere else and I think we are beginning to see the first signs of pressure or tiredness showing in Alexis Sanchez performances. He was a fraction of a second late for almost everything, from his tackles, to passing and decisiveness.
Standout non performer on the night was Per, whilst football is a game where you are judged by your last performance Per really had put in some good performances recently and context needs to be applied to some things. Should Gabriel come into the side for him? I think so. We have seen how well Nacho and Bellerin have fared replacing players that at the start of the season were ahead of them. I feel it would be unfair to expect to him to have ducked for the first goal but his decision that led to the second goal was for lack of a better word abysmal and as captain of the side he really needs to be asking himself questions.
All in all, from Ospina to Giroud it was shambolic and our chances of getting ahead are extremely slim. The third goal killed everything for me and Oxlade too should be asking himself questions, twice after he scored he gave the ball away, one of which led to the third goal. Is it impossible to go to Monaco and score three unreplied? More impossible things have happened in football, but can we do it? That question will be answered come March 17th 2015.
Fuck, it feels so far away.
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