With Swansea getting a great result on Saturday all eyes were on us to start the season well. It seemed as though we would do just that coming up against a West Ham team that on paper or not, we should be beating. As it turned out we thought that simply turning up and being Arsenal would be enough to win the game. It was similar to a few performances from the big teams, United, Chelsea and ourselves. The concentration wasn’t there, the conviction was missing and not one of the above teams looked like they were 100% focused on winning the league. Sometimes you have an off day and scrape or grind out a result but that’s where desire comes in. Say what you will about Chelsea, they played with 10 men for the last 35 minutes in a game where they weren’t 100% but they were determined enough to grind out a 2-2. We weren’t good in any portion of the pitch which is where the fall down is in our game. There’s almost too much of a togetherness between the front and the back, it’s as if one doesn’t work they both don’t. I feel as though there needs to be some detachment between the back 6 and the front 5. The back 6 (I mean the Coq especially here) need to remain only focussed on defensive solidity, and this happens in the most part but time and time again (apologies for sounding like Hansen) the Coq puts it upon himself to try too hard in terms of forcing the issue going forward. It’s in situations where a simple 5-10 yard pass to one of Cazorla or Ozil is available and he elects to go long or switch play that really irks me. It’s not his job and we need to ensure that he knows this in up coming games. I’m not quite sure whether I trust him just yet. But coming back to the detachment I mentioned earlier, the resoluteness of the defence snarling in full Gandalf mode (YOU SHALL NOT PASS!) would cajole the front line into making something happen. At the very least on a crap day in front of goal we come away with a 0-0 rather than conceding error strewn goals. Fair enough if someone scores a worldly but both goals were calamitous.
We had 2 mistakes from players today who won us the game last week in Cech and The Ox. Mistakes happen all the time but what makes it worse is the pressure cooker we create for ourselves within the ground. It happens week in week out, it obviously comes across to the players and it’s fast becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. We continually lambast individuals or the manager, and it’s our right to do so, but we do it for every little thing when we’re also part of the problem. Today was most definitely about the players not turning up and the manager also has to take some responsibility for this, but the worst part is the hyperbolic reactions post match. Off site Twitter can become a truly vile place to be in after a loss like this one. You’d think that we missed 20 open goals and threw the ball in our own net twice to boot.
It’s not that small margins were the issue on Sunday more so that the pressure of expectance really got to us. You saw it all over the pitch. The Ox was bright but you sensed that in playing for his position he was trying to do more than he had to. Similarly and to a larger extent Ramsey did the same. He wants the central midfield role and he’s worried that if he doesn’t contribute in a telling way he will be pushed wide, or worse out of the side. He far too often selects the more complicated option and hangs onto the ball for 2-3 second longer than he needs to. It slows us as a team. Cazorla, again similar, but largely because he gets pushed around the park. What happens when Alexis comes back in? That’s the question in these players heads. All the talk has been about cohesion and understanding, however the performance smacked of a lack of the bigger picture. It’s actually becoming a part of football all over Europe whereby players look for themselves to win more so than their club at times. I know I’ve mentioned this before but it just seemed that way all over the pitch.
I’ve largely talked about us but credit where credit is due in so far as West Ham were excellent on the day. For a 16 year old to be a part of the team to have a great game as well must have made it all the more pleasing for them. They deserved it simply because they were as I mentioned above, dogged in defence and capitalised on errors. The worst they were ever going to come away with here was a 0-0 with that attitude and it’s an attitude that we should look to adopt sooner rather than later.
In the rumour mill, stories continue to surface with regards to Karim Benzema. I’ve well and truly been sucked into the talk and with his agent supposedly being at the game you can’t help but feel that age old feeling. Hope. Him being there wouldn’t have necessarily meant 3 points but the feel good factor on our side as well as the fear factor for the opposition may well have been heightened. I really don’t know what to believe as I fell hook, line and sinker for Higuain only to be shown up by Napoli. I really hope that doesn’t happen again but you guys know me by now – I’m always glass half full so I’ll always believe he’s coming (I hope…I think…umm…please!).
With that a horrendous footballing weekend ends and our season won’t be as serene as many thought it might. We’ll need to battle, I just hope it’s with more balls than we showed today…and with Benzema.
Try and get through the week without punching a Chelsea fan people.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.