We all know the vernacular for the weekend just gone. We know because we’ve been through it a lot in the last 3 months. Inept. Disappointing. Timid. Wasteful. Quite simply not good enough. The silver lining to lost games has previously been that we’ve played brilliant football and that’s something that genuinely helps you feel better, but even that has been missing for the last 3 months. The game vs Man City at home was the last time I think we played some really good football, that was on December the 21st 2015. Almost 3 months ago. It’s as though the conditions need to be juuuuust right for us to win a game at the moment. We need a bit of luck, the crowd have to be on our side and right behind us, we also need to have put our often missing shooting boots on. God forbid any adversity during a game, as that well and truly makes the porridge go cold, and at the moment rather stale. I’ve called this the Goldilocks Complex. It’s undoubtably a condition that has plagued our season.
There are a multitude of reasons as to why we are playing so badly and one of them, incredibly, is the lack of technical players available in the 3 months that have passed by. Mesut Ozil remains the only one alongside maybe Campbell who hasn’t actually played all that much in the 3 months, that have the capability to unlock a defence. Injuries are one thing that can be unlucky from time to time but to be missing Wilshere, Cazorla, Rosicky & Arteta means that we lack the nous to transition the ball forward and in turn break teams down. But as I said, we know this. There’s not much else we could have done differently with the line up yesterday and it should have been good enough to win the game. People complain about Giroud vs Welbeck but off the back of 2 goals vs Hull and a still finding his fitness Welbeck you can’t blame Wenger for his selection there. The problem lies in the fact that there is never any urgency anymore until we’re a goal down. On top of that Wenger thought it was a farce that there’s a drama every time we lose a game because we had the chances but didn’t take them. Well I think it’s a farce that we didn’t spend the money to buy a goalscoring machine in the summer to ensure that we took more of those chances, but that’s me.
The performance yesterday is both on the players and the manager. It’s not one or the other it’s both, however it does stem from Wenger. It’s down to him to invoke the urgency and motivate the players accordingly, it’s down to him to buy the right players, it’s down to him to find a formula that works. Unfortunately therein lies the problem. There’s too much that’s down to him and that’s now becoming a hindrance to the football club. It’s costing us points & trophy chances.
Considering that City dropped 2 more points on the weekend it’s looking increasingly like it will be one of Leicester, Sp*rs or us for the title, but the confidence is at an all time low right now and everyone is a little too relaxed about it all. Or has been any way. I have a theory on how this might pan out now. Previously we had the FA Cup as a fall back for if the season wasn’t going so well. This might have had an impact on the players pressure and urgency levels in league games. Now I’m in no way saying that this weekends result was a good one or a blessing etc because winning games is obviously better than losing them, however it might increase the intensity to which we approach out 9 (sorry for the cliche here) cup finals. The Barcelona game is almost a free swing as nobody expects anything from it (cue heroic failure in the form of a 2-1 victory, with a last gasp Messi penalty to send them through) but then comes the acid test of our season. The final stretch to make something happen. The last chance to save our season. We need a catalyst to give us belief. The draw at Sp*rs was a start but it’s a victory that we need to get some momentum going. An away win vs Everton will begin (and only slightly begin) to dispel the doubts. At the time of kick off vs Everton we could be 11 points adrift of Leicester and anything but a victory would end our chances in my view. Even if somehow Newcastle were to experience a Rafa Benitez tactical master class and get 3 points vs Leicester we would still need to win. The win would keep pace with Sp*rs more than Leicester as to be 8 points adrift of Leicester and 6 of Sp*rs would be too much.
I hope that the Barcelona game is one where we stay injury free and one where we aren’t embarrassed. Miracles happen on the odd occasion (a la Chelsea in 2012) but it would have to be juuuuust right in order for that to occur. I’m just not sure it will.
There’s not much else to say in this quite depressing mood. ‘Must beat Everton’ is the mantra.
Until next week.
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