Learning’s from the North London Derby defeat

Frustrating times once again for gunners fans across the land. With hopes of pulling off a result to get our season back on track we came up short once again. How do you put a finger on it to pinpoint the cause? The problem is a finger isn’t enough to identify the cause, two hands may not even be enough because the problems identified before the season are still there, the problems identified when the last transfer window opened are still there and right now there is nothing that can be done to fix this until the season is over.

giroud spuds

It‘s never nice to lose any game, double that feeling when it comes at the hands of your local rivals. We are at the business end of the season and now is not the time to throw things away, with each week we are losing time to put together this magical run of form which is meant to save our season.

With our champions league campaign over (I’m sorry but it is), all focus should be on the league, every game treated as a cup final (a cup final we win, get out of my memory Birmingham game!) as the players fight to the end to repay the managers faith in them.

It’s not quite working out that way so far and I hope that Arsene, if still in the Arsenal hot seat next season will take note of those that have underperformed, let him down and put his own position at the club under the greatest pressure it has ever been.

Some of my conclusions after witnessing the North London Derby:

Defence not solid as a unit.

It feels like Groundhog Day having to write this same problem up so many times this season. The Bould factor has long evaporated and each week we have come to witness our evident defensive shortcomings. In the games where we keep a clean sheet it tends to be pure luck that we do not concede. Our back line just does not perform well enough in games to form a basis in which to win a game. Every game we play the opposition know they are good for a goal against us, we guarantee in every game at least one golden opportunity for the opposition to score a goal. It just depends on the quality of the player that gets the chance whether they take it or not. When we concede goals we should be saluting the excellence in creating an opportunity against us but instead we end up noticing how comical the defending was that gifted the opposition the chance. This is a trend that needs changing and fast.

Giroud simply not big enough a player to rely on

Giroud was probably our worst performer in the match, totally ineffective, he was totally out of tune with the rest of the team and highlighted one of our biggest shortcomings. Up front we lack a match winner to make the difference in games finely poised. I believe Giroud has a lot of qualities we’ve lacked in previous seasons but those were qualities that were required as a plan B when things didn’t work. Our system does not allow Giroud to play up top with another striker and so we have to rely on him as our main attacking threat. Arsene didn’t buy a striker in the last transfer window to compliment the Frenchman or provide an alternative when things aren’t working and yesterday was a fine example why it may have been a mistake. In the early stages of the game when we were pretty much in control Giroud found himself in the position to run onto a couple through balls but lacked the pace or cutting edge to produce a goal scoring chance. I believe ruthlessness should be shown in front of goal at any time in a match, we should not be waiting until we are behind late in a game to put real effort in. sometimes a chance can be missed early in a game much like yesterday and when wasted it is shrugged off because the forward expects more of the same. In big games chances aren’t guaranteed in high numbers throughout a game so you have to take your chances whenever they come. Yesterday that was taken for granted and we paid for it.

Defensive midfielder still a priority

This is not a dig at Mikel Arteta, he is still one of our most vital players but his strengths are not fully utilized in the holding role. We have not replaced Alex Song who despite his tendency to drift forward to help in attack offered a physical strength that we currently lack. It was good business getting the money we did for Song but in not signing a replacement we weakened the squad.

Big game mentality lacking

We really have lost the knack to raise our performance for big games. When we have faced a top of the table clash we have come up short almost every time. This is a worrying habit and the only consolation is that we only really have Manchester United left to play from the top teams although Everton could maybe be added to the list.

Run of games for Podolski up front

With the limitations of Olivier Giroud and no possibility of signing a new striker would it hurt to give Podolski a run of games up front? Theo Walcott can play up there but struggles against teams that play deep. The German has been preferred on the left hand side by Wenger and hasn’t really tried him there. He can finish, he is mobile and I’m sure he could get on the end of the chances the midfield make for the forwards. It is only a suggestion but you look back to earlier in the season when Gervinho was given a run there and wonder why wasn’t Podolski given a similar opportunity?

What’s with Ramsey at right back?

This is a weird one for me, the use of Aaron Ramsey as a makeshift wing back. We were first introduced to this in the game at Sunderland when a red card forced the use of the Welshman there. Now we are seeing it more and more; on reflection Ramsey played well when moved there but Carl Jenkinson was also having a good game at right back. In the grand scheme of things it weakened our defence at a time when we were chasing the game and needed to ensure a third goal didn’t go in. I believe Jenkinson and Ramsey offered the same attacking threat and therefore found the change bizarre.

Try to enjoy your day people. Stay strong.

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Roll on Southampton, we have missed you AFC

My goodness i’ve missed you premiership, what a long international break that seemed. International qualifiers and friendlies just don’t do it for me. My interest goes right out the window, I take notice of our boys and how they do in addition to praying they don’t return to the Arsenal broken. After a summer of being spoilt by Euro’s, Olympics, Paralympics and Wimbledon there just always seemed to be something that filled the void until the new season started, now that’s all finished the past week or so has really dragged for me.

In addition to the lack of domestic football we have the transfer window closed, that led to no potential signings filtering through twitter and other social media platforms. The supposed ITK’s have gone into hibernation (or gone back to tweeting their love to Justin Bieber) meaning there’s no rumours to get the fans whipped into a gossip filled frenzy. We were taken back to the football news being actual reports based on interviews and international results. No bad thing I admit, it certainly makes a change to the usual things reported, I just need the football back now.

Southampton comes to town and it will make for a significant fixture for a few players in our squad. We clearly have links with Southampton after signing two of their brightest young talents in recent years. Theo Walcott was signed way back in 2006 amidst a media storm, his inclusion to the England squad for the world cup that year didn’t help quell the enormous pressure he was already under, he has finally started to show some of that potential seen in him when so young. Far from the finished article Theo has still managed to develop his game and the script for his career is still unwritten. He is still young enough to have a part to play in Arsenal’s future successes and move up to the next level in his personal development and gameplay. A chance to play against the team where it all started will no doubt be an emotional one and I’m sure he will show his old club great respect if he were to score against them.

Alex Oxlade –Chamberlain another former Southampton starlet who made the switch to the emirates gets a chance against his old club, there will be more ties to the team he plays since many of the players from his time there will still be present. It was only a year ago that he signed admittedly under the radar due to the heavy backlash received by the club in the midst of the departures of key players at the start of last season. An unknown entity to many Arsenal fans Alex has come on leaps and bounds to make himself a fan favourite, an integral part of the 1st team squad and a senior England international. Such an exciting player with so much potential for more, Arsenal fans really need to applaud Southampton for letting this one join our ranks.

Another player who can have an indirect link to Southampton is our French striker Olivier Giroud. I know he hasn’t played for them but im sure you all know by now (or just remember) how games against Southampton have become significant for some of our great players in terms of them breaking their league goal scoring ducks. Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp are just a couple of the quality players to get their first Arsenal goals against the saints after initially struggling to find the net in their first few games.

Could it be written in the stars that our powerful new striker could follow suit and finally boot that monkey off his back today? Why not, he would be in good company joining that exclusive club with the Iceman, Wrighty, Thierry and that other dutch bloke. He has the talent, and his first goal is just around the corner.
I’ll be at the game today and hope to witness the moment, I will no doubt give the loudest cheer if he bags his debut goal today.

Not much new in team news, Diaby probably won’t be risked due to a knock on international duty, Walcott missed the last England game due to a virus but was able to train yesterday. Szczesny is fit again and the long term absentees are getting closer to a return.
I’m glad the footy is back at the emirates, seems a complete age since I last went to the Sunderland game. Please guys give us three points and plenty of goals. Southampton can’t be taken for granted, they have given both Manchester clubs food for thought recently. They remind me much of Blackpool last time they were in the premiership plenty attacking threat and flair going forward however likely to concede as much as they score. Let’s hope our defence continue their fine run, come on you gunners!

Enjoy your day people

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