Arsenal had not exactly gotten off to a strong start this season, with only two wins from their first seven games. However, the international break was seen as an opportunity to reset and reorganise and come back stronger. Several of our players impressed with good performances for their respective countries, and with a game against Hull City at home, Arsenal fans were expecting their team to claim all three points.
But what happened in that game highlights, once again, the problems with the current Arsenal style of play. Arsenal dominated possession throughout the game and pushed players forward at will, but were simply unable to find the final ball that would allow them to convert their dominance into goals.
And our defence frailties were again exposed for the world to see; a quick powerful run from Diame saw the Arsenal defence unable to cope, which they should have despite the foul in the buildup. The second goal was even worse, the entire defence fell asleep during a corner and experienced defender Per Mertesacker allowed the opposition striker a free run at goal.
Were it not for two moments of brilliance from Alexis Sanchez, we would not have been able to salvage even a single point from the game. This is extremely worrying for a team with title ambitions, especially since Chelsea sit at the top of the table with a 11 point lead over us after just eight games.
Manager Wenger spoke at length about the porous Arsenal defence, and provided his opinion as to why Arsenal are performing so poorly:
It is difficult to say why (it has been an inconsistent start) because it is not only one reason.
It is a post-World Cup year, the fact that we had to play Besiktas to qualify for the Champions League, and the fact that we missed many players.
What is most frustrating is that we never come out of a game feeling that we (have) dominated – we always feel that there is room to win the game, that was not always the case last season.
Our defensive efficiency is not there at the moment. We cannot survive at the top level by always conceding two goals.
It is a bit linked with confidence and concentration, so we have to adjust that.
The manager himself admitted that the defence was leaking too many goals, but refused to strengthen the squad when he had the chance to do so during the summer transfer window. Also, why a team like Arsenal would lack confidence is beyond me, especially since the players do so well for their countries. Wenger needs to get his act sorted out.
He also said that the Arsenal side was weak in the air and this allowed Hull to dominate set pieces. Time to buy a physical player then?
You have to respect Hull’s experience in the air. We cannot compete, that is for sure, so we have always have to score the super goal.
I don’t know how many corners we had, but they were much taller and there weren’t many chances to score – we always need the perfect combination.
The manager rounded up the interview by saying that it is always good to be realistic in football and so he wasn’t going to bother about past results and would focus on the game against Anderlecht. Funny how he couldn’t be realistic enough to admit that Arsenal needed defensive cover in the summer.