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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Shakhtar 2 - 1 Arsenal - lack of effort, lack of points

That was a disgrace. The first-half performance was abject, with the exceptions of Wilshere, Fabianski and, in particular, Johan Djourou. For ten minutes we controlled it, hit the post, scored a goal, and silenced the crowd. Once Walcott scored, however, the players started cocking around.
The display from both full-backs throughout the game was an absolute joke. I praised Gael Clichy on Sunday for his performance against West Ham. Tonight it was back to normal with the most amateurish defending imaginable (he made the exact same error at Man City a couple of years ago, a couple of weeks before Eduardo broke his leg) and the delivery from wide is embarrassing. I read in the paper the other day that Saturday's goal was Clichy's first assist in THREE YEARS. For someone who gets forward so often that is simply not good enough. The one accusation that can't be levelled at Clichy is a lack of effort, which brings me to Emmanuel Eboue. I have been saying all season that I would rather see Eboue playing than Sagna. Following the game at Newcastle, and tonight, I have changed my mind. Eboue's defending was summed up by the foul that led to the equaliser, as he was so far out of position he couldn't get back to deal with Shakhtar's only danger man. How about a bit of defensive discipline when you're up against a bloke like that? I didn't see Shakhtar's left-back come forward once, because he was busy making sure Walcott didn't get in behind him.
The second-half was better and we should have escaped with at least a draw, but our finishing was up to its usual standard - piss-poor. Bendtner made it through at least 25 minutes longer than he should have tonight as he looked like he was playing pinball, rather than football. As soon as Chamakh came on the ball stuck to the front man as it is supposed to.
The lack of tactics was there for all to see again tonight. The first substitution saw Vela come on for Eastmond (and not before time). However, we saw no change in formation. Bendtner still didn't have anyone up front with him, and Nasri simply dropped in alongside Wilshere. For a couple of minutes Theo Walcott moved to the left and beat his man twice, before forcing good saves from the goalkeeper, only to be moved immediately back to the right. I couldn't believe it when he was taken off with ten minutes to go. Surely you take off one of the idiot full-backs and go for it properly, don't you? To bring on Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and play him on the right wing (and Vela was STILL playing wide on the left) was ridiculous. Why does nobody on the bench tell Wenger that we should try something different to make a breakthrough?

Arsenal's record away from home in Europe lately is very poor. Our record in Eastern Europe in an embarrassment. I don't care that Shakhtar had never lost in their new stadium. We're Arsenal for God's sake, and this kind of record should mean nothing to players of the quality we have. Yes, we were short in midfield, and the decision to play Eastmond was mystifying once more, but we should still have had enough to put this lot away tonight. The fact is that too many of the players thought they could cruise through it after those first ten minutes and it came back to bite them on the arse. This team loses too many games, particularly away in Europe, through a lack of effort, and that is unacceptable. It's particularly unacceptable when huge numbers of Gooners have once again spent their hard-earned money to follow them. As a result we now have to play a proper game in the next round of matches, when we should have been putting out a weakened side and resting players - which is exactly what Chelsea will be able to do.

As I'm typing this I'm having to listen to Jamie Redknapp talk complete bollocks on Sky, backed up by that hairy-handed tosser Richard Keys. I would love to see Jens Lehmann, one of the studio guests, go mental and kick their teeth down their throats on live television. It would certainly improve my mood.

More fallout when I calm down tomorrow.

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