Andy P is back again, in full force and has brought up some valid points looking ahead to the massive game against City this weekend. Enjoy.
Season after season, Arsenal fans reach the point during the campaign where they are resigned to accept the fact that their title hope is over. There can only be one winner, and unfortunately, being so close to the action leaves that golf ball in our throats, and every thunderous thump of our hearts seems to hurt more and more from accumulation over the years.
So much promise, fumbled through embarrassing and disappointing results. If it’s not negative footballing managers of Stoke City, it’s some arrogant, overpaid muppet all over The Sun, or front page of your local newspaper associated with our faux pas (yes that’s plural as well). But it’s exactly that – an Arsenal faux pas. It’s too easy, for my liking at least; and you should be angry too.
I give credit where credit is due, and I’m not above appreciating a well worked goal, a wonder-strike (although when consistently conceded, it becomes very, very frustrating), or a moment of absolute class and flair. On that note, I take my hat off to Swansea.
If you read my previous post, Swansea started the game EXACTLY how Arsenal should have against Chelsea. Their opening quarter of an hour was disciplined and clever. Teams that understand you will go through spells without the ball, typically have good strategies to employ when they do get the ball. Aforementioned in my previous post, Swansea were under the pump right from kick off. They had barely touched the ball for ten minutes, but when they finally got the ball, what did they do? They sure as hell didn’t all rush forward, and force a ball across the pitch to their teammates who ‘look like they’re in position.’ No, they held on to it for as long as they could, slowly making their way up the field, and noticed a good (good, not excellent) run from Wilfried Bony, and put it on his head. Even if it didn’t go in, it’s a very smart, patient and positive passage of play. Fortunately for Swansea, it did bulge the back of the net, and they found themselves up 1-0 with 5% possession.
Teams will always be braced with chances, half-chances, and good fortune. They may not all happen in one game, but when a team is piling on the pressure, you need to absorb it the best you can, and be useful (yes, opposite to wasteful) in possession. Well played Swansea.
All of a sudden, the doubt creeps in among the players, the pressure begins to mound, and the longer a team stays behind, the more they feel it. Watching the rest of the half was very predictable in my eyes, and one moment really summed it up for me. Sagna was creating space deep down the right flank as he so often does, and managed to find enough time and space to whip a dangerous ball in behind the defence, right on to Olivier Giroud’s forehead to steer past the keeper who had made a lazy run in to the box, and then darted for the near post, it was all too easy… Except, that’s not what happened. He lazily stood around the penalty spot as Sagna put in a pearler.
This attitude I know very well. You might have witnessed it too. You know when you find yourself behind, and a part of yourself believes it’s because your coach has altered the game plan a little, and he wants certain players to do things a little differently. And in your eyes, it’s just not working, so when you fall behind, you revert back to basics. You or one of your team mates believe “I just need the ball in this area, and I’ll make it 1-1.” The arrogant striker. The one who believes someone else will do the hard yards, and he’ll finish it off. It’s just not good enough. Look at how many goals Luis Suarez has scored this season just from applying pressure to defenders and goalkeepers, twisting and turning, tormenting their decision making – being a nuisance! Standing in the penalty area with no conviction, just isn’t good enough.
Without completely knowing, I can tell you what Wenger said at half time. He said RELAX. He has great belief in his side; in each and every player he asks to pull on that jersey. He knows that if his players relax, and stay adamant to their strengths, the goals will come.
There was a little bit more intent in the second half which is always good to see, and after perseverance, the Arsenal faithful had cheered twice inside 66 seconds. Two swift passages of play completely turned the game up on its head and had potentially saved the embarrassment of being outplayed, yet again, by a team we are more than capable of beating by at least three. I don’t think my opinion of the game would have changed much given what was about to follow.
Personally, I was still disappointed, but I would take the much needed three points to the tally. I wanted to see the passion and the intent of the team unit developing its way to pulling a rabbit out of the hat and beating City at the Emirates.
After what I saw, I don’t think that’s going to happen. However, that’s not to say that it won’t. And I, like you, will still be glued to the tele by the time kick-off arrives. Beating City puts the band aid on 6-3. It puts the band aid on a shaky week. More importantly, it puts the band aid on the table. With Everton 6 points behind, with a game in hand, we are perilously close to achieving the unthinkable.
In terms of the run in to deadline day, we do have a slightly ‘easier’ run, in the fact of WHO the clubs we face. There are so many permutations available, but I shudder to think of the worst case scenario. We are in a bad place right now, in the spotlight for horrendous football. Everton have had some very close games, and are high off thrashing Newcastle 3-zip. They face a struggling Fulham side which you would still argue will lose at home to Everton, we face a red-hot City side, desperate to catch up points. Again, worst case scenario, we then travel to Goodison, they have found some form, they’re at home, and we’ve had a horrible string of events. If they beat us, they’re level on points, with a game in hand, which is caught up when we play FA Cup semi the following week. I shudder to think.
For me it starts now. Well it actually started after the Chelsea game. The performance against City simply HAS to be convincing. Somehow if we can conjure up the energy, and the belief to peg the title contenders back a bit in their shoes, our confidence can flourish. We need all the help and luck we can get. Everton still have City and United to play, as well as a hungry Southampton team, as well as relegation fighting Palace and Sunderland – so it may not come to that.
I’m positive a good performance against City can spur on some momentum and drive that’s needed to finish the season strongly, especially with so much at stake, and the potential to win silverware. Having a number of monumental players still out injured doesn’t mean the team cannot band together and play in the big time.
I will end on a Latin proverb: “Fortuna audax iuvat.” My personal interpretation of this means: “Luck (fortune) comes to a prepared mind.” So be prepared, and let’s get some vengeance! COYG