It’s been a while since you could label an Arsenal game ‘boring’ but despite the fact the game was relatively open and end to end for a nil nil, the game was exactly that in my view. In a game that was billed by many as the biggest of our season, although to be fair all games are around this time, Arsenal failed to really step up to the plate and 90 minutes of frustration evolved at the Emirates Stadium. We had the chances to score, but in reality it would have been an injustice had we gained all 3 points. Neither team deserved the victory.
Right from the off, the opening play suggested the game was going to fail to live up to the excitement and expectation of many. The opening 5 minutes saw the ball being rotated around the Arsenal defence with sporadic attempts to enter the opposition’s half and that was really how the game played out. From the way both teams were playing, you’d have thought they were 4-0 up and had the game in the bag already. Sadly, not much changed as the game went on.
Chelsea had rested a lot of their first team regulars in anticipation of their smashing they’ll receive from Barcelona next week but despite the window of opportunity offered to the Arsenal players by the weakened Chelsea side, they didn’t look like they could be bothered to take advantage. Many an Arsenal fan looked on in discontent as they ball went from one defender to another and it was one of them games where you thought ‘is it only the 35th minute?’.
Despite the mediocrity on display by both sides, Arsenal were still desperately unfortunate not to enter the half time break in the lead. Both Robin Van Persie and Laurent Koscielny saw efforts hit the woodwork before Robin again had a glorious chance that he volleyed straight at Petr Cech. It was just another one of those games for Robin. The player who looks destined to clear up at the end of season awards didn’t have his shooting boots on, much like the last few games, and failed to find the back of the net with any of his 7 shots. Whilst it’s encouraging that he continues to work the openings and get shots away at goal, the disappearance of his clinical edge in recent weeks has proved costly. Still, I suppose it’s unjust to feel resentment towards a player who has on his own won a bucket load of games for us this season.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Robin’s current profligacy is the fact we have no able deputy to enter the side and take some of the pressure off of the skipper. Whilst I still am fully behind the manager, Arsene’s reluctance to bring in a proven striker in any of the past few transfer windows is looking to be the wrong decision with Robin clearly needing
support up top. Thankfully it looks like we have Poldoski arriving in the summer but that won’t help us secure Champions League football this season. The expectation on Robin’s shoulders coupled with Arsene’s lack of faith in both Chamakh and Park proved very costly today. Disappointing.
The second half played out much like the first. Both sides struggled to create anything of real note and when they did, the ball generally ended up in row Z. Robin had another two fantastic chances as the game drew to a close but much like the first half, he was unable to rediscover his golden touch. You know it has been a poor first half when the most interesting event was Ashley Cole coming on and getting booked within a matter of minutes. It was that sort of game really. The game trickled to a halt and despite an impressive late appearance from André Santos, the points were shared. Not a bad result, but not necessarily a great one either.
To cap off what had truly been a very average game of football, Theo Walcott had to depart with what looked like a hamstring injury during the second half. At first he tried to run the niggle off but sadly, he only made the situation worse and I would now be surprised if he plays again this season. Whilst it may not be a damning blow, it could be one that hinders our play in the next few games. Gervinho is rock-bottom in terms of confidence and Chamberlain isn’t proving as effective as he can be so unless our other wingers step up in the next 3 crucial games, Theo missing could turn out to cause a bit of a dilemma.
My ratings today go a little like this:
Szczesny 7, Sagna 6, Vermaelen 7, Koscielny 8, Gibbs 6, Song 5, Rosicky 7, Ramsey 6, Walcott 6, Chamberlain 6, Van Persie 6
As you can see from them, our defence didn’t do an awful lot wrong today and stayed solid throughout. It was the ineffectiveness up front that eventually cost us. Alex Song was particularly disappointing. For someone who has been so renowned this year for his solid displays and pin point passing, he was noticeably off form. Perhaps the absence of Mikel Arteta alongside him was affecting him more than most. Either way, we need him to be a LOT better against Stoke next week if we have any chance of getting the result that we need. Ugh Stoke. What a horrible team.
One man who had a tougher 90 minutes than most was Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman has been obviously poor the past couple of weeks and sadly today, some of the crowd got on his back after a few misjudgements and errors. Whilst he was poor today and he needs to improve if he is going to be a first team player here, I think some of the criticism he got was unfair. He actually had the highest passing accuracy of any starting outfield player today (97%) and I thought he had an impressive second half. He’s has had a couple of awful years with the leg break and the death of Gary Speed and I think some people forget how young he is. A player like him needs time and support if he is going to achieve his potential. Not constant criticism. I believe in you Aaron.
The draw means Champions League qualification is under doubt once more but I am still more than confident that we can do it. Win our last 3 games and I reckon 3rd will be ours. Apart from Stoke away, I think our games should be relatively straightforward and I think the players know improvement is needed. I’m expecting a big performance next week. Newcastle and Chelsea have difficult run ins whilst Spurs
look all over the place at the moment. Stay upbeat everyone. The 3rd place trophy is still well up for grabs…
All stats via WhoScored