Speaking in the aftermath of Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at the Hawthorns to West Brom, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted that it was a ‘perfect nightmare’ for the Gunners and praised the opposition for a hard fought victory (via Arsenal.com). We had no one but ourselves to blame after the result, in a match that saw us concede an own-goal, miss a penalty and lose two players to injury.
It was, in fact, a bad day at the office for the entire team, as with the exceptions of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil no one really managed to make an impression on the game. The injury depleted first team looked short of ideas despite dominating possession throughout the game, an all too familiar and painful sight for the Gunners faithful. The host of missed chances in the second half served only to further rub salt in the wound.
Throughout the game the manager cut an angry figure on the sidelines, and his displeasure will clearly be felt by the players for some time to come. However, you cannot help but feel that Wenger has dug himself into this hole, as his refusal to purchase reinforcements over the summer is what led to us having to play Mikel Arteta as a replacement for Francis Coquelin. I understand the desire for ‘top, top quality’ at the Emirates, but when you are being forced to play Arteta as your defensive midfielder, I find it hard to believe that there were no players available who would have improved our squad depth.
The manager was rather guarded during his press conference, avoiding openly blaming his players. He said, “It was a bad afternoon, we missed a penalty, we gave a goal away on set-piece, that is perfect to make your afternoon a nightmare and we missed open goal chances. I believe that West Brom they were strong in the fight and they had one 100 per cent commitment as well and you have to give them credit for that.
“But overall I felt it dropped a huge blow when we scored and we just had to make sure they didn’t come back with a easy goal and that is where we were disappointed today. But I cannot be mad at the team because they gave what they could until the last minute but we lost a bit of focus at 1-0 – at 35 minutes we were 1-0 up and then at 45 we were 2-1 down. Our defending on that level was very, very poor.
“I don’t really know what happened [regarding Santi Cazorla’s penalty]. You can talk to him and he is so disappointed and it is difficult to blame Cazorla for that. We have to take it on the chin and bounce back in our next game. It is a big blow today for us as if the game reflects the result then okay but when you drop points when you have come out of a game and think you have not done the maximum to produce you cannot be happy.”
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To sum up the display yesterday, we lost 2-1 to a side who had only one shot on target in the entire game (via BBC). No matter how much the manager believes that the team tried their best, that sort of performance is simply not acceptable from a team that has ambitions of lifting the Premier League title. And ultimately, the underlying cause of defeat was the same it has always been for us – lack of proper cover within the squad. Season after season, we suffer long-term injuries to the exact same players, to the point that we should expect them to be a absent and plan accordingly. Until we can patch up the holes in our squad properly, we always run the risk of these sorts of losses at crucial stages of the season.