TR7 - Not as good as Gervinho or Ramsey
I gave up believing in this Arsenal team a long time ago. Too many times I've thought that we had won a couple of games and they'd finally got it. Then they'd go out and produce a display with such a lack of commitment and desire as to make you realise they're just not that good. Last night was yet another example. Following on from three good displays against Reading, Wigan and Newcastle we were back in the gutter at Southampton. The Saints might escape relegation, such is the lack of quality in the Premier League, but they will certainly come close. That being the case, the way they held Arsenal so comfortably merely serves to underline that this Arsenal team is just crap. Obviously they have talented footballers who can play some blinding stuff, like they did on Saturday. But having the ability is only half the story. If you don't have the mental capabilities to understand the need to out-work your opponent game in, game out then you might as well not bother. Barcelona don't play their great football just because they can. They play it because their players have the right mentality. They earn the right to have the ball. They never let up in winning it back on the rare occasions that their opponent gains possession. Once they've worked harder than their opponent they show what they're capable of when they have the football. They do it whoever they're playing against, not just when they feel like it. It's not rocket science, it's just a good old fashioned work ethic coupled to fine ability. Now obviously Arsenal don't have players of the same quality as Barcelona (nobody really does) but we do have players (at least in the first choice team) to rival Manchester United. They work hard in a similar way to Barcelona. Okay, their football isn't anything like as breathtaking, but Ferguson would not allow the regular insipid displays that we get at Arsenal.
This is Arsene Wenger's quote from the official website after the game:
"Maybe we were a bit off and lost a bit of concentration and thought 'OK, we scored seven against Newcastle, we'll score again today', but it doesn't work like that. You have to focus completely.”
It strikes me that the Manager is spot on. This group of players seems to think that football becomes easy after they've put in a fine performance. Obviously it's the Manager who picks the players and is responsible for motivating them, but there has to be more than a little blame and responsibility laid at the door of those on the pitch. These are not kids. These players are experienced enough (only Arteta yesterday was not an international) to know what is required to win a game against any Premier League side. I said earlier that the Premier League lacks quality, but it doesn't lack fight. One thing you know is that whomever your opposition (unless it's Arsenal, it seems) you're not going to get an easy ride in a game in England.
In terms of the game yesterday we became sloppy after a bright start. Something that sums up our players is the fact that Artur Boruc dropped the first two balls played in to the area. On neither occasion was there an Arsenal player there to knock in the loose ball. When a third ball came over Boruc finally caught one, yet there was still no Arsenal player anywhere near him to put him under pressure. Are they really that stupid? Do they not think for themselves?
The defending was awful again yesterday, as it usually is when Koscielny and Vermaelen play together. However, the main offender yesterday was Bacary Sagna. He was awful against Newcastle where he made Obertan look a decent player, while yesterday he really might as well have gone and sat in the crowd. His intervention that lead to Southampton's goal was absolutely awful. I wouldn't expect to see a Sunday morning player putting a ball across his own penalty area like that. I hear that Carl Jenkinson is carrying a knock, but I certainly hope the Corporal is fit to play at Swansea on Sunday. Sagna had a whinge about his contract when out injured earlier in the season. Maybe I'm doing him a disservice having come back from two leg breaks, but right now Sagna is performing like a man who wants to be playing for somebody else.
As ever we had no idea about how to do anything different when it became obvious it wasn't working. I called the substitutions at half-time and it was obvious what was going to happen when he sent out his three subs to warm up. The game was crying out for Giroud, but it was also crying out for us to get someone else up front with him. I feel like a scratched record constantly saying that we should play two up front against inferior opponents. I had no problem with Podolski and Cazorla being taken off, but surely Wenger must see that bringing on Ramsey and Gervinho was like an admission that he would take a draw. Ramsey is just so painfully slow that everything stops for Arsenal when he gets the ball. As for Gervinho I just give up. I remember people used to give stick to Glen Helder but he was ten times the player Gervinho is. It summed him up when he pirouetted himself all the way in to the turf shortly after coming on - at no point had he been in control of the ball. If Gervinho is a Premier League footballer then Perry Groves was capable of earning a place in the Brazil 1970 squad.
Does Arsene Wenger genuinely believe that Ramsey and Gervinho were a better bet than Tomas Rosicky yesterday (or any day for that matter)? Surely the extra pace and direct running and passing ability of Rosicky might have created us some much needed space yesterday. If nothing else Rosicky would have been different to what we'd seen all day. Since returning to the squad Rosicky has only really had two proper appearances. The first was at Olympiacos where he ran the game until being replaced at half-time. The second was at Bradford where he came off the bench to provide the spark that got us back in to a game where we'd been comprehensively outplayed. It strikes me that Rosicky is becoming the new Arshavin, such is the way Wenger is using (or failing to use) him. I just don't get it.