Same old story: Drogba didn’t bully us this time, but set-pieces did
By Tanaka Felix Chidemo
After drawing against Sunderland and Stoke in our first two matches without scoring a single goal, we looked like a team in crisis. Wins against Liverpool and Southampton and a well deserved draw away to the champions made sure all that crisis talk was put to bed.
In the week leading up to the game against Chelsea, ESPNFC Presspass conducted a survey to determine which club in the EPL was playing the ‘best football’.
While the definition of ‘best football’ is largely debatable, it is comforting to know that the results of the survey were a landslide win in favour of The Arsenal. It shows we’ve made a significant leap forward from what we had become just 12 months ago.
Sadly, our latest advancements could not see us leap beyond bitter rivals Chelsea in our own backyard. Personally, I don’t see the loss as a tragedy with regards to our title aspirations. What unsettles me is the manner in which we conceded. Over our much discussed trophy drought, goals conceded from set pieces have been a constant thorn in our side.
We thought the coming of Steve Bould would cure that weakness but it appears we thought wrong. The poor marking on set pieces seems to be reluctant to leave us. But this Arsenal side being a work in progress, I believe that a remedy for this nagging problem is not too far off. Its probably only a matter of time before Bould and Wenger lock on to the problem.
I was unpleasantly surprised to see that Metersacker had been left out of the starting Xl. After his performance against City and in the games before that, I never imagined Wenger would drop him. Both Metersacker and Koscielny put in an excellent show against City and that left Wenger with massive selection headache ahead of the Chelsea game.
The temptation to continue with Per and Koscielny was obviously there but I wonder if the rank of club captain Thomas Vermaelen was too great for Wenger to even consider leaving him out? I certainly hope it hasn’t come to that. Places should be acquired on merit alone.
Talking about merit, quite a number of players on our books are starting to show it in big chunks. Ramsey, Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson seem to be onto something special this year. I hope the class and form that they’ve shown rubs onto Jack when he comes back in a couple of weeks. I’ve missed that little magician. If Gibbs and Jenkinson keep up the good work, we could see both players earning some well deserved national team caps soon.
Against Chelsea I felt we failed to impose ourselves enough. We are a team that prefers to have most of the possession but the second best team in London found a way of denying us that. There were spells when we were second best on the ball far too often and as always, we could have had more shots on target than we actually managed. Its sad that Giroud contributed to that ‘shots off target’ tally with what was probably the best chance of the game.
With every miss his confidence ebbs away and although we are good lot, there are some amongst us supporters who won’t wait on him forever. He did manage to force a brilliant save from Cech before that but in all honesty, the ball had gotten a ‘Lampard-like’ deflection on the way. I’m backing Giroud to find his feet soon. Very soon we’ll cease praising his movement and we’ll start gloating about his finishing. I hope that gloating begins against Olympiacos in on Wednesday.
I’ll end by saying happy 16 anniversary to boss Wenger. We’d be poorer without you. We might not always agree with you but we will always love you! Till next time, stay Red!