One small step for positive Arsenal man [beating West Brom 2-0], one giant leap for negative Arsenal mankind [losing to Bradford].
I don’t know why but I can’t seem to get the iconic moon landing words out of my head, but with a slight Arsenal themed adjustment. I think it’s because ‘one step forward, two steps back’ just doesn’t do our current situation justice.
Following the home defeat to Swansea, ‘one small step’ was taken as Arsenal responded with a 2-0 victory against West Brom. It was far from perfect, but more energy, pace, and work rate led to greater effectiveness and efficiency in both our passing and our defensive pressing, which resulted in more chances being created and fewer opportunities conceded. Unfortunately the quality of finishing was found wanting, with both Gervinho and Podolski guilty of missing some real sitters. Thankfully Arteta was in a more clinical mood, taking and scoring two penalties with aplomb; straight down the middle both times. The first was somewhat fortuitous, with Cazorla being a little light on his feet (to say the least), but the second was as stone wall as they come. And no, Chamberlain did not commit a foul in the build-up; I’ve been pushed and shoved more than that on the London Underground and you didn’t see me throwing myself to the floor.
Sadly we couldn’t back this up in the way we needed to. With our next league fixture, away to Reading, not being until tomorrow night, Arsene decided to take a pretty much full strength side to Bradford. And what did they do? That’s right, ‘one giant leap’ in the wrong fucking direction, losing 3-2 on penalties, following a 1-1 draw in normal / after extra time.
There’s no League Cup coverage here in Sydney so I’ve not seen any footage (I could look for highlights on Arsenal Player, but have yet to muster the courage). But what I do know is this; when you’re a Premier League team (old school First Division), who regularly compete in the Champions League (old school European Cup), then there is no excuse for losing to League Two (old school Fourth Division) opposition. What’s more we had 120 minutes to beat them in and still couldn’t manage it. The result speaks for itself, but from what I’ve read and heard we really were, to all intense and purposes, shit. As I say, I’ve not seen any footage, but I have seen a photo of the Gervinho miss just before half-time. The bloke is an embarrassment and a disgrace. He is barely a winger, let alone a centre forward, so I have no idea why Arsene insists on playing him down the middle time and again. However, you shouldn’t need to be a centre forward to score that; my grandmother would have scored it.
And so we’re back to square one. In my last blog I spoke about needing to fight. Jack Wilshere was absolutely immense against West Brom, by far and away our best player (and from what I’ve read it was much of the same from him against Bradford). The image of him squaring up to Jonas Olsson is exactly the kind of never say die attitude I’m looking for. The return of Rosicky has also seen an improvement in the attacking third because like Jack he has quality on the ball, drives forward whenever possible, and loves to get stuck in. But they need more help, this is a team game, and we need to see the attitude and application of Jack and Rosicky right across the field, from all eleven players on the pitch – something Jack has spoken of himself.
Another response is needed. That thought and those words are getting far too repetitive for my liking, but with the January transfer window (and the slim hope it brings of selling deadwood and signing some quality) still a few weeks away there is not much more we can do, ask, or hope for. All we can continue to do is ask for a response, hope for improvement, and pray for some victories.
Away from The Arsenal it was a busy, but fun week. Wednesday was my birthday, my first here in Sydney. I’ve never celebrated my birthday outside of London, so to celebrate it on a hot and sunny day was most surreal. I had a really nice day though, and would like to say a big thank you to my new-found friends who treated me to some birthday cupcakes (and no that’s not a euphemism you dirty minded so-and-so!) and some after work drinks at Opera Bar, overlooking the harbour. Perfect.
Thursday evening was then the work Christmas party, where some delicious food was eaten and a few more drinks were had; it was another enjoyable evening. Like my birthday, Christmas and New Year have always been spent in London, so the bizarre feeling of experiencing this time of year in the heat continues. What doesn’t help is the lack of Christmas songs. It drives you bonkers when you’re in London as radio stations and shops start playing them in October and don’t stop until January, but here they don’t play them at all and it doesn’t feel right. There’s been no mention of driving home for Christmas, nobody shrieking a warning that ‘It’s Chriiissstttmmmaaasss’, and nobody wishing it could be Christmas every day.
Right, that’s that for another day. Here’s to a better performance and result tomorrow, as Arsenal go in search of another response, in response to their last response, which was a response to their previous response following a bad performance in some game against some opponent some time ago. Up The Arsenal.