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Sunday 7 December 2014

Pointless In The Potteries (Again!)

Warm Welcome To Stoke
So frustrating, one-step forwards, two steps back! After an impressive victory over Dortmund, we weren’t particularly convincing against an impotent West Brom and we scraped a somewhat fortunate victory in midweek against Southampton.

Nevertheless with three successive clean sheets, we were just beginning to regain some composure at the back and to gather some winning momentum and it all goes out the window at the weekend, along with the previously improving prospects of an Xmas truce that was in danger of breaking out between the AKBs and the WOB.

If Koscielny is still being plagued by an Achilles problem, I can fully appreciate the necessity to avoid overplaying him, but it was utterly unfathomable that Arsène should choose one of our most arduous awaydays of the season, for such a substantive defensive reshuffle.

It’s not rocket science and no coincidence that up until recently, the two most consistent teams in league were those that fielded the same seven of their eleven players in every match. Mercifully Matic’s absence appeared to take it’s toll upon Chelsea at St James Park.

Having been unable to avoid increasingly focusing on the exploits of the Blues with each passing week, fretting about the looming spectre of Mourinho erasing Arsène's only exclusive "Invincible" achievement, their defeat was such a blessed relief that getting anything out of our outing to Stoke was only every going to be a bonus.

Truth be told, in Koscielny’s absence, most of us had been crying out for Wenger to give Chambers a run out at centre-half instead of Monreal and for the twinkletoed Bellerin to be let off the leash at right-back. But why would anyone (in their right mind!) wait for the cauldron-like atmosphere of the Britannia, to give these two a baptism of fire?

Peter Crouch, He's 'Armless
The anxiety-ridden environs of the Potteries certainly wasn’t the place for the sort of wholesale tinkering that left our back line playing like a bunch of tentative strangers. The stat of one successful tackle during the course of the entire ninety just about says it all.

With the comparatively sedate atmosphere at our place, I adore the far more fervent experience on the road nowadays. But our annual outing to the Britannia is probably bottom of the list as the least preferable awayday outing, with Stoke having become such a bogey side in recent times.

Bizarrely the Stoke faithful seemed to have turned around our own lingering fury about the ABH effected by Shawcross upon Ramsey, somehow making themselves out to be the far from innocent victims. Mark Hughes is a wily old campaigner and after his side were unfortunate to have nothing to show for two decent performances on the road at Anfield and Old Trafford, by pouring fuel on the animosity between the two clubs, the Potters were fired up to produce the necessary intensity to get under the Gunners’ skin (yet again!).

It’s as if this encounter has become a class war, where putting one over on the lily-livered landed gentry from the capital has become a much vaunted feather in the cap for their more agricultural brand of football. But it’s hardly as if the home side’s burning desire should’ve come as the sort of surprise that saw us capitulate within seconds of kick-off!

If the Gunners were to get anything out of this game, we needed to be bang up for it. Instead of which, witnessing our positively feeble, feint-hearted efforts in some of the 50/50 challenges, it felt as if the majority in red and white on the pitch shared the same lack of relish for this outing, as those of us singing “we wanna go home” on the terraces.
Adams' Sleep-hold Audition For NYPD

I’m still uncertain why Stoke’s fourth was disallowed but this did at least save us from the ignominy of being totally embarrassed. The sight of Alexis’ potential goal of the season bouncing back off the post summed up our disappointment. Yet if there was some consolation, it was that at 3-0 down, I looked around the pitch and couldn’t see players with the strength of character to try and muster a revival. While there might have been an element of good fortune involved, I’m delighted that they proved me wrong.

Hopefully the fact that we came quite so close to a remarkable recovery will stand us in good stead and we can bottle some of this “never say die” spirit because it’s bound to be required in the hectic travails of the relentless festive schedule.

No Let Up From Alexis, Deserved To Score "Goal Of The Season"contender

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Twitter: @thedogsbollock


Anonymous said...

One of the problems with Arsenal is the way defenders are viewed. Basically defenders are there to defend; being good on the ball is an added bonus (and can be developed). Chambers is woefully out of his depth and is simply not ready for the premier league. Because he joined Arsenal he got in the England team where he demonstrated he is woefully out of his depth! (In his second game he failed to pass to a teammate the whole game.) Koscielney is better, but similar. He is not strong enough and makes far too many mistakes, but somehow he is seen as the saviour. Wenger inherited a brilliant back four plus goalkeeper which enabled him to build a beautiful team. Since they have left he has demonstrated that he simply does not understand defending and Bould is clearly just another puppet who will not disagree with the boss. Wenger has sold a centre back and not replaced him; relies on a very slow German, a mistake ridden Koscielney; another useless left back and a couple of teenagers and doesn't have a top keeper. I just don't get it. You can buy proper defenders for £8m or less and he blows most of his budget on Chambers FFS.

Anonymous said...

Always love reading your blog Bernard. Heres hoping for a fruitful festive period, alrhough it seems quite an ask at the moment.
Looking back at the invincible team, a team that included Edu,Parlour and Ralph Lauren, it seems that mentality is a huge issue. I mean, they werent world beaters, but they all played their part..and refused to lose!
Arsene will be given time to fix this (because we're not the spuds or chelski.. Thank god), and whilst it grows increasingly tiresome, we just need to get behind the team.
Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

But does Wenger deserve a chance to fix it? Let's be serious - he has scraped one FA Cup in 10 years. It is worth thinking about that for a moment. Arsenal have won one FA Cup in 10 years. Why does the manager of that team deserve a chance to continue at such a big football club when the team get worse every year at a time when the fans are lead to believe they have more and more money to spend. What's more the quality of players coming out of the Academy is virtually non-existent.

Anonymous said...

To the first commentator;

How many of the Invincible defence did Wenger inherit? None actually and they went 49 games undefeated. Stop twisting facts to suit your tired agenda.

Anonymous said...

Stop harping back to the invincibles and look at 2014. Since the invincibles Wenger has made Arsenal worse and worse until they no longer challenge for the 2 trophies they want to win. My 'tired agenda' is to replace a manager who needs to go. He changed the football club from the dullest side imaginable to a wonderful free flowing team. Now it is a reasonable free flowing team that cannot defend and isn't strong enough. It also includes a number of players going through the motions. It loses every game to a rival and that is the sign of a team that is not good enough; does not have a plan B; dose not have the right tactics; cannot defend and needs a change of management.