From My Seat: Arsenal (A)

We had a grandstand finish but a goal would not come for either side so once again we leave Arsenal without a win yet again.

Ken Buckley 25/10/2015 20comments  |  Jump to last
Arsenal 2 - 1 Everton

A trip down to The Emirates with roads in rush hour mode, our record on this ground ensures we will play a game of footy at a venue where we dont win and then head home again. I could have written that at any time and been spot-on. After the Man Utd game, we were not expecting much; we did get a better display from our lads but no improvement result-wise.

The team as announced was same again except Deulofeu replaced Naismith. Playing with two wingers was unexpected but as the game unfolded it was seen that Lennons switch to the left flank was an attempt to counter the very speedy right back Bellerin.

The game started and the first 15 mins were a bit flat with the teams no more than sparring but Galloway was showing well and seemed nerveless whereas more senior pros were not and our Ref, Lee Mason, set the tone for wanting a quiet night when he ignored Lukaku being flattened, acting like he never saw it; maybe it was the rain that came down like a curtain at times... so no excuse for not zipping the ball around.

After 15 mins, Arsenal started to take control and looked dangerous at times. Coleman set off at pace up the right but Sanchez caught him, took the ball and played it long to Giroud who was one-on-one with Howard, who won the battle and deflected the ball away with his legs. Then the Ref blew for our free kick for a foul on Stones. Giroude disagreed.

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We broke when we could and did play some joined-up stuff but without really threatening near goal. Arsenal did threaten and I started to get that involuntary leg movement as I tried to help with a clearance, daft init? On 20 mins, Jags had to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Ozil at the expense of a corner which we cleared.

I am sure the rain was even heavier now but Galloway was gliding up and down as if on a surfboard and in one foray he gained four throw-ins; after the last of these, he gained a corner for us where we should have taken the lead. The cross came in, Cech pushed it out straight to Stones and from a wonderful position he showed why no-one will buy him as a striker. What a chance... What a miss!

Between 20 and 30 mins, I thought we had a good spell yet never really carving out that boss chance in the box whilst the nearest Arsenal came was from an Ozil corner that beat everyone and went out for a goal kick. Then Deulofeu went on a direct run up the right but seemed to no more than run into a defender and that move broke down. 35 mins came and I thought if we can go in all square at the break then who knows...

I didnt have to think too hard or too long as Arsenal put a move together that saw Ozil down their right near the touchline. Galloway went with his man but Lennon didnt go to Ozil to close down and the German took a touch and put in a beaut of a cross that had Jags, Stones and Howard on different planets and Giroud merely nipped in and glanced home. Shambolic defending came to mind.

Whilst our noisy end went quiet, well, we went 2 down when a wicked arcing free-kick came into our box and with Howards arms flailing an Arsenal head well in front of him headed home. I hope Howard could not hear some of the non-compliments paid to him from the length of the pitch away. After thinking we were doing okay, to be 2 down in the blink of an eye was hard to take.

We tried to respond and Deulofeu had some good direct and some good twisting runs but, each time he reached the edge of the box, he fell over and then gesticulated at all and sundry as he had heard no whistle. He needs to cut that bit out of his game.

Half-time loomed and, from a possible 0-0 scoreline, we were going in 0-2; I just thought if only we could get one back, it may change the second half. A Blue on high must have heard my plea as, from another Arsenal attack, we cleared the ball to Deulofeu and he made a strong run from our half well into theirs and didnt fall over, instead he picked out a peach of a through ball and put Barkley in. Two touches and he lets Big Bertha go, gets a deflection and finds the net. The faithful find full throttle again and on the whistle half-time is a whole lot easier than it would have been.

At Half-time, the chat was a touch subdued but the Howard debate was in full swing. Many differing opinions but the greatest agreement was that he didnt like crosses that came into the six yard box. Somehow they seem to disorientate him.

The second half could not have started any worse as Arsenal came out all guns blazing and pushing us back and with just about 2 mins gone Jags goes into a last-ditch block tackle and as soon as you spotted his hand gestures you just knew here is another 8 weeker out. He was treated on the park then helped to limp off and on came Funes Mori. That could be a big blow to us.

Funes Mori settled quickly and helped settle the players nerves as we went on the attack when we could... but doesnt it just madden you when you see players you know to have talent make basic errors? First, it was Barkley who was at the end of a good joined-up move and hesitated and had the ball whipped away from him, setting Arsenal up on another move that saw them get Sanchez one-on-one with Howard. Luckily the ball was on the ground and he likes them there better; he won the dual and deflected away for a corner which we cleared but only back to them for Giroud to have a shot which Howard saved for another corner. Again, we cleared but Arsenal were now putting more and more crosses in after sussing our less than effectiveness at marking and clearing. Surely they practice this stuff, dont they?

The hour mark came up and we started to get some confidence back. Howard caught a couple of crosses, Funes Mori was playing with an authority that suggested he was the first-pick centre-back as he demonstrated pace, poise and positioning. On 70 mins, we had a shock when Giroud hit the bar and the same player was booked for fouling Barkley and then Lennon was subbed off for Mirallas, much to the delight of many in attendance. More bad news for rail travellers when it was announced the train to Lime Street was cancelled and that was the last one. Huh, the Gooners cheered.

The closest we came before the end was when Barkley after some good work put in a great cross that missed everyone except the lively Galloway who had raced to the back post and his diving header hit the side netting. It looked a nailed-on chance; I just wondered if those jumping in front of him gave him little time to see it. If not, he has missed a sitter.

Deulofeu joined in when Lukaku put in a good cross that was shuffled out but only as far as the Spaniard who took aim but the on rushing Cech blocked the grass cutter. I thought if only Ossie had that chance, he usually aims for the roof of the net. Had Deulofeu done that... 2-2. We had a grandstand finish but a goal would not come for either side so once again we leave Arsenal without a win yet again.

I cant find a player to nominate as Man of the Match today but as the performance was much better than last week I will give them all 6.

We have had the first 10 fixtures and all the talk pre-season was of how hard that opening was. Well, we got three wins, four draws and three losses so thats 13 points out of 30. Not exactly top four form but it will be interesting to look at the points total after the Stoke game.

I think the manager can play a big part in our results as what I have seen so far this season is a collection of players of some talent who do appear to dig in for each other and individually play some good stuff from time to time. What is missing for me is a team display that has all the players understanding their roles within the manager's framework and playing with a purpose that does not leave anyone isolated so that we have smooth quick passage from front to back that should see the numbers required in both defence and attack.

The formation doesnt bother me as it is the tactics used in any given formation that the players should be drilled in, so allowing them to switch as and when required. I would hope this would stop the spells of passing across the back until the keeper just hoofs clear as I am sure that happens when players are not sure of their roles and so dont make the moves that allow playing out from the back.

This is my observation and maybe my rant and all because I think we have got the players that can do things but they dont always sing from the same hymnsheet. Over to you, Roberto. Oh and please dont refer to either hard or easy fixtures; instead, call them winable...

See you Sunday to lay a bogey

UP THE BLUES

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Reader Comments (20)

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Patrick Murphy
1 Posted 25/10/2015 at 22:41:38
I think, results apart, Ken, the lack of joined-up stuff in any area of the pitch is disconcerting; it’s as if the players are all trained as separate entities and only come together on match-day. There is a total lack of cohesion in the whole team. Funnily enough Galloway is the lad who seems to have suffered from it more than most in recent games.

None of the players seem to perform ’naturally’ and are too busy ’thinking’ instead of doing... which, similar to a learner driver, will often lead to mistakes. The problem is, we have some pretty experienced players so there has to be an issue with the training methods or instructions.

Somebody remarked that one of the coaches was barking out instructions when Arsenal won a corner during the match which might not seem a problem, but in my own experience I prefer to have just one boss to please rather than a group of ’bosses’... just a thought.

Thanks again for another excellent review of a match that disappointed for the most part.

Alan Newton
2 Posted 25/10/2015 at 23:07:06
From my seat yesterday, that was the worst performance this season.

I thought we were poor against WBA but showed fight & spirit to turn around a deficit. We were poor against a bad Liverpool side and dreadful against Man Utd last week. But yesterday was different to all of those fixtures. We didn’t appear to have any belief that we could get a result.

Prior to the game, focus was placed upon Arsenal having had a gruelling mid-week game against Bayern and despite the euphoria and confidence of the triumph, would no doubt be leggy. Another positive was that Ramsey was missing.

Everton on the other hand should have been up for responding to a poor home performance against Man Utd. It felt, for large parts of the game, like a Moyes performance, lacking belief. As the rain poured, I stood completely uninspired and commented that I was unconcerned by Arsenal’s approach to the game "I can’t see them creating a goal, more like us handing them one".

10 mins later, my fears become reality as the hapless Howard turned my mood to rage as he – once again – failed to do the basics. I’ve long been critical of Howard, in part, because I started my own footballing life as a goalkeeper. We were also taught to "command" our area and be the eyes and ears of the defence. He can’t control his 6-yard box and he does nothing to warn and/or marshall his defence. It’s infuriating to see and he’s been costing us too many points for far too long now.

Yet, Howard – whom I have come to expect as being unreliable – was not my biggest disappointment yesterday. There were many, but the midfield four of Barry, McCarthy, Lennon and Deulofeu did nothing to inspire. Barry was an accident waiting to happen, I wasn’t sure McCarthy was playing until the final 2 mins, Lennon ran around like a headless chicken, and Deulofeu appears to have lost his confidence in beating a man.

Indeed, if we continue through the team, Lukaku barely won a duel in the air (his header off the bar was unchallenged), and Coleman was indifferent. For me, there was only Galloway (who faded and seemed to be affected by his miss) and Barkley whom I would give any credit to.

Mirallas looked lively when he come on but clearly has an attitude problem given Martinez is preferring to start others with less ability.

I do think we have a set of players who can win football matches, but the manager doesn’t – for whatever reason – seem to be doing a good job in terms of tactics or motivation at present. And that is a worry.

Danny Broderick
4 Posted 25/10/2015 at 00:17:03
I think a lot of our games are borderline now. We don't seem capable of keeping a clean sheet, so the biggest thing is if we can get the first goal. We could have got back to 2-2, but equally Arsenal could have got a 3rd.

The balance never looks right in the final 3rd, regardless of who plays. We are crying out for someone like Mirallas to come into the team and nail down a place on the left wing. If we can use Lennon on the right, and keep Deulofeu for an impact sub, hopefully that will help. Lukaku has a tendency to go missing at times, but he is not getting much support at all.

I'm not going to mention Howard because it's been done to death elsewhere. But I am trying to remind myself that this is Arsenal away - hopefully we will perform better against some 'lesser teams' in the coming weeks...

Abhishek Saha
5 Posted 26/10/2015 at 02:28:14
I guess the biggest positive from this game is Funes Mori. Much like the way Stones displaced Distin as the first choice centre-back, Funes Mori is en route to do the same to Jags. The lad looked towering in defence and was the only bright spot (unless you consider Barry's sending off the other one) for us.
Peter Barry
6 Posted 26/10/2015 at 02:52:37
So here we are... where the RS, who have already sacked their Manager and who are by all accounts having a terrible season, are nonetheless ABOVE us in the table.

So when will Billy Liar and the board wake up and smell the coffee and realise that Brown Shoes just is not good enough?

Nitesh Kanchan
7 Posted 26/10/2015 at 03:46:28
Moyes never won against top four away and even the home record against big 4 was 25% -30% win in a season beating only 1 of them in a season.

Maybe Man Utd he could have won, but Man City (No, not the current side), Arsenal (No), Liverpool (No), Chelsea (maybe). He could have won one of Swansea or Spurs away. Saints (No), Watford (definitely).

Even with Moyes in charge, we would have been around the same position right now. But with Moyes we would have won 7 of next 9 matches, his team had a knack of going on winning streaks against midtable and smaller teams and geting us back into challenging the top 4.

So let's wait and watch if Martinez can do that in the next 9 games (I believe we can) or else he should be sacked.

Dick Fearon
8 Posted 26/10/2015 at 04:12:43
Every week, sometimes at god awful hours I get to watch all Premier League games. Dozens and dozens of times, I see keepers come off their line to make simple catches or punches. Our fellow is a ditherer who does not give confidence to supporters or teammates. Although Tim deserves criticism for this latest defeat, we should not allow Stones a free pass from his share of the blame.

Twice against the Gunners, he allowed his man to give him the slip resulting in their two goals. I expect to be lambasted for saying this but John does not cope at all well at heading duels and should bids be made it would be best to grab what we can and do the deal.

Abhishek Saha
9 Posted 26/10/2015 at 06:57:48
Stones was supposed to be signing a new contract which has a release clause for a sum of money. Has that happened?
Michael Penley
10 Posted 26/10/2015 at 07:32:33
I don’t really follow the other clubs' squads in a lot of detail, but it seems to me where the best performing ones have a fairly small squad of excellent players, we have a massive squad of mediocre and constantly injured under-performers. You look at Arsenal and Man City and see the same players almost every week, who are usually the ones getting the assists and goals.

Could the money spent on bringing in McGeady and Lennon not have been amassed to buy a better quality winger who is 100% fit? I don’t think that would be too much to ask. It seems to me we’re shopping from the scrap-heap and buying quantity instead of quality. Also having fewer players would mean less inconsistency due to constantly mucking around with the team sheet.

Peter Weaver
11 Posted 26/10/2015 at 08:31:22
I think we have seen enough this season to believe we will beat most of the 'lower order' teams and lose to those presently above us.

The quality of players and their manager would delight the Albion, Villa and Norwich fans because we are nailed on for a mid-table finish. I suspect the Everton bean counters are pretty satisfied too.

Excuse me if I lust for something more.

Mike Oates
12 Posted 26/10/2015 at 09:29:27
Dick (#8),

While I wouldn’t go as far as saying sell Stones, to me he won't cut it as a centre-half; he doesn’t relish any high challenge. That’s why Wenger played Giroud; he knew once again he would take Stones to the cleaners.

To my mind, he should be groomed to take over from Barry as a defensive midfielder who can also brilliantly start attacks.

Steve Carse
13 Posted 26/10/2015 at 09:56:09
Ken, good report, but were you visiting the Gents when Lukaku hit the cross bar?
Gerard Carey
14 Posted 26/10/2015 at 10:30:21
Thanks, Ken, good report. First ten games over, now games against the so-called lesser teams. Teams that park the bus!!!!!

I have a feeling this could turn into a poor season like the last one... We have some very good players, but I think RM needs to up it or we will struggle.

Brent Stephens
15 Posted 26/10/2015 at 10:45:39
Gerard (#14) – "now games against the so-called lesser teams. Teams that park the bus".

First up: Sunderland with the new-manager syndrome and fresh from a big win over Newcastle; then away to WHU on a roll (though I don’t think they’ll park the bus &ndash come at us like a train probably); and Villa with an interim manager who will feel no pressure on him.

Terry Aylward
16 Posted 26/10/2015 at 10:52:34
The so-called lesser teams most probably look at us with the same thought process: A good opportunity for three points. Just put high balls into the box and wait for the panic to ensue...
Gerard Carey
17 Posted 26/10/2015 at 11:55:59
I know, Brent; the thing is, there's no easy games. I wish we would play to our strengths. I would love to see us play on the front foot with pace. Drop one of Barry or Macca, play Kevin and Delboy as wingers in their right positions, a midfield of Macca, Barkley and either Cleverley or Gibson. Back four of Coleman, Stones, Mori and Galloway. Give Howard a rest!!!! I hate all this slow build up and passing sideways and backwards just for the sake of it.
Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 26/10/2015 at 12:45:06
Another very good and sensible report, Ken. I love the way you gently make your point without raging against players and the manager like some of us do.

In a nutshell, I think you are saying we’ve got the players – it’s up to Martinez to weld them together better than he’s been doing.

Harold Matthews
19 Posted 26/10/2015 at 15:58:36
Enjoyable read Ken but you were a bit unfair on Lennon for the first goal.

You say that when Ozil had the ball on their right wing, Galloway went with his man but Lennon didn't close down Ozil who crossed to Giroud.

Fact is, Galloway didn't go with his man. Ozil had switched over and was now Galloway's man. Not Oxlade Chamberlin, who our boy chased in the middle of the pitch, leaving Lennon totally exposed with Ozil and Bellerin to deal with. He had no chance.

Tim Sarken
21 Posted 26/10/2015 at 23:34:16
Good report as always. I like Martinez, but am totally confused by his approach to player selection. Howard is the de-facto starter, regardless of performance, but the wingers get rotated in and out of the lineup in different positions every game. Are we fielding the best players, period, or trying to adapt to the situation? I don't mind either approach, but why not apply it across the board?
Harold Matthews
22 Posted 27/10/2015 at 13:17:02
Tim. Martinez is always talking about so-and-so’s role within the team. Partnerships, Barry / McCarthy, - Coleman / McCarthy. Triangles, Coleman / McCarthy / Stones. - Barkley / Kone / Lukaku. - Barkley / Deulofeu / Lukaku.

If the fixture promises to be a fist fight! he might play Naismith. If the opposition park the bus, he might bring on Osman.

The back seven are rarely rotated. Too much risk. Injuries give Robles, Galloway, Browning and Funes Mori a chance but Martinez would prefer them to be on the bench.


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