Problems were beyond scapegoat Almunia
Yes he made a blunder, but the entire team committed several of their own and in Saturday’s defeat, the faults were not truly down to only Arsenal’s goalkepeer. Here is an Emirates Stadium spectator’s analysis.
By Valentin (commenter)
I was at the game, and in my view the men responsible for the debacle were Wenger, Arshavin and Almunia. Wenger, because from the first minute, it was clear that Diaby and Eboue were struggling for fitness.
They were already running on empty after 20 minutes. Arsene Wenger needs to realise that no matter how good a player is, an unfit player is not ready. He should have played some youngster like JET. They could have injected some urgency in the game. That exactly was what Wilshere brought to the game when he was introduced. That was a bad initial selection.
Replacing Koscielny by Vela and moving Song into defense was a bold move. I could see what he was trying to do. However by moving Song into defense and leaving Arshavin on the pitch, he created two problems. We were already struggling in midfield because Arshavin was never tracking back (I will come back to that later), but on top of that, he replaced Koscielny with a makeshift centre back. Song was very good going forward to add the extra number, however he went missing on the third goal.
I know that some people will blame him for the third goal, but contrary to some, the third goal was not down to Almunia going on a walk about. It was due to the entire defense being out of position. Song acted as a central midfielder playing in defense. He made the wrong move and assumed that somebody from midfield would cover for him. Nobody did and he was nowhere near the goal line to be able to block the shot (Squillaci was late in realising the problem).
Arshavin was a disgrace. Nearly all the goals and the offensive route West Bromwich used were due to him losing the ball and not tracking back to retrieve it. He kept trying the fancy trick that never came off. He kept leaving Clichy facing two players and forcing Song to cover for him, thus, leaving a big hole in midfield. As Eboue and Diaby were not fit, they were unable to properly compensate Song’s movement. Check the second goal to see the complete absence of tracking by Arshavin. When he switched to the right, he left Sagna exposed.
Almunia was excellent in the first half. Even after he conceded the penalty and saved it, he was OK. However in the second half after he made a mistake for the second goal, he simply was a bag of nerves. Having 20,00 of our own fans castigate him was not very nice. However it is time to use our Polish reserve goalkeeper and I do not mean Fabianski.
Almunia is a decent goalkeeper but clearly he is not a world class goalkeeper.
One of the few plus point of the game was Nasri. He was excellent. He played like a man possessed. He was making runs, shooting, tracking back and tackling. Everything that some of our players were shirking away from doing.