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Thursday 4 February 2016

Missing....The Arsenal's Title Challenge...Last seen disappearing down Drayton Park!

Here's hoping his bite is just as bad as his bark
          I received a teasing "mind the gap" text message from one of my Spurs' mates during half-time Tuesday night and I promptly replied to say that he was being just a little bit premature and that he really should know better than to tempt fate. Most infuriatingly it was not!

            Yet the terrifying truth of the matter is that the Totts are so accustomed to their encounters perennially going tits up that in the past he wouldn't have dared yanking my chain, until after both games were over. So receiving this text during the break was merely a reflection of quite how bullish they've become in recent weeks, down at the wrong end of the Seven Sister Road!

            As ever, on another night we might've been left with mouths agog during the first-half, as a result of yet another truly memorable world class moment from Mezut finding the back of the net, with another gob-smacking goal for the Özil scrapbook. Who knows, even Theo might've miraculously rediscovered some composure, to do the business with his prime second half opportunity to seal victory against the Saints.

            Nevertheless, even if the Gunners had managed to break our first three successive game goal-scoring duck in seven years, the resulting three points might've prevented us from being left in the ignominious position behind Spurs in the table and would've made a seriously depressing Weds morning far more palatable, but frankly a win would've only papered over the patently obvious cracks in the Gunners' increasingly tarnished-looking armour.

Yalla Mo...time for a Highbury Spring?
            It wouldn't have felt quite so bad if Soton were doing likewise, game in, game out, but the truth of the matter is the Romeu and Wanyama totally bossed the middle of the park for the visitors during the first forty-five mins. Wanyama we know blows hot and cold, but as I sat reflecting on the game during the break, I wondered how come I've never previously noticed Romeu, as his domineering display seemed quite impressive.

            Doubtless the Spaniard is set to disappear back into relative obscurity for the remainder of the season, since it's subsequently dawned upon me that it really doesn't take much to master last night's lamentable Flamini / Ramsey midfield axis. As in the case of Joel Campbell, so long as they're prepared to demonstrate one hundred per cent commitment when they don the red and white, I don't enjoy criticising a willing grafter. That's why at present I'd choose Campbell over Walcott any day, but I remain far from convinced that Joel will ever demonstrate sufficient quality to be a top draw star. Would he make it into Man City's team?

"And there was me thinking it was just for standing on"
          Similarly, on the basis that everyone loves a trier, you can't really knock the Flamster but we must be mindful of the fact that Matty only ended up back in the Arsenal midfield by default, after his career with "the Rossoneri" hit the skids and he returned from Milan to train with the Gunners. merely to maintain his fitness. It's hard to imagine that the 31 year old Frenchman would make it anywhere close to the squads of the vast majority of our competitors.

            Yet with Arsène (perhaps crucially) preferring not to select le Coq twice in three days, so soon after returning to fitness, apparently he perceives Matty as a dependable stop-gap solution. I'm certainly not complaining about him being in the squad, not only because of his versatility but because we haven't nearly enough players with Flamini's wholehearted attitude.

            However I point-blank refuse to accept that the Arsenal's army of highly paid scouts couldn't have scoured the lower leagues and the rest of the entire footballing world during the transfer window, to find some available talent that would've proved a fitter, faster upgrade on the ageing Flamster? 

            Especially if Wenger knew full well that he intended to avail himself of the journeyman midfielder in such crucial outings as the other night. The many millions of spondulicks that the club have sitting earning interest in the bank certainly aren't going to buy back the points we've dropped in the past four Premiership games!

            We might've managed to turn the screw somewhat and apply pressure during a period of the second half, forcing Forster to pull off more commendable saves but we badly needed to bounce back from the Chelsea defeat by steaming into Southampton right from the opening whistle; and upon reflection it was this failure that I find most depressing because I can't help but feel that a team with sufficient appetite and a genuine scent in their nostrils of the extremely rare opportunity available to us, would've torn into the opposition with that "nothing else but a win will do" type determination.

"Spot the tourist"....sadly more like "spot the Gooner"!
          Frankly, Aaron Ramsey's insouciant and ineffectual efforts suggested anything but a "shit or bust" desire to tie the red and white ribbons on the title trophy. It felt as if the Gunners only began to turn up the heat when it eventually became apparent that Koeman's well-disciplined outfit weren't about to present us with the points, as all due recognition of our somewhat smug belief in an entitlement to have the Premiership crown handed to us on a plate.

            Contrast our display to the manner in which Leicester went out and wrestled all three points from Klippity Klopp's schizophrenic Scousers. Vardy's sensational strike must be a shoe-in for goal of the month and despite being full of admiration for the consistent quality being produced by Ranieri's troops, it rankles me that it is the Foxes and not us, who are seemingly determined to take advantage of the lame-duck managerial circumstances at Man City and the likelihood that Pellegrini might struggle to motivate the title favourites.

            As for Spurs, one might contend that their squad is far better equipped than ours to go all the way this season, with more strength in depth. But I comfort myself with the thought that they remain deprived of an obvious replacement for Kane, in the event that this "one of their own"should do what Spurs do best, by beginning to falter over the remaining hurdles, as it doesn't bear thinking about and I might have to consider leaving my phone permanently turned off, rather than have to put up with my Spurs pals savouring decades worth of "always next season" payback, should they push us all the way.

            Still, worst case scenario, at least we can take some solace in this weekend's trip to the seaside, should we remain (heaven forfend) in need of more distraction from what's fast becoming a goal drought!

Keep the faith

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clockendjim said...

The midfield of Flamini and Ramsey on Tuesday night, must be one of the most ineffectual ever to wear the shirt. Apparently Wenger was not impressed with Elneny's performance against Burnley; this just underlines the terrible truth that Wenger sees a different game to the rest of us. Most of us and the media thought he had a terrific game; miles better that Tuesday's pair.
And where was Iwobi who has been so super when he has played and he was not even on the subs bench ?!
One must say that Fraser Forster in the Southampton had the kind of match that goalkeepers can only dream of; nothing was going to beat him that night. However he should not have had the chance to save some of our wretched attempts if we could shoot. Walcott yet again misses a golden opportunity (twice), a sadly recurring event.
I am not going to criticise Giroud, but he needs a goal-poacher along side of him to feed on his knockdowns etc. This should have been addressed in the transfer period, but yet again WEnger failed to do the necessary. What a pity Guardiola is going to Man City, he was just what we needed