Arsenal 0-2 Schalke 04 (Huntelaar 76, Afellay 86)
Man of the Match – Jefferson Farfan (Schalke 04)
Terriby terribly frustrated. Pissed. Peeved. Sleep deprived. Headachy. About to yell. Ugh! I can’t get a grip on myself. Yes, that is what I am right now. My laptop is lucky, I just didn’t fling it over the balcony last night. To think I sat up till 2: 30 AM last night, to watch an absolutely toothless performance all over, just riles me up.
Don’t take me wrong. I am going to continue to sit till whatever time it takes for Arsenal matches to end, but yesterday was a really poor excuse for a performance. With all the talk about making a comeback, and performing to the best levels, pre Schalke, it all sounds like a joke post-Schalke.
What we saw was a listless performance from a side, with little creativity, who looked clueless defensively, and offensively, and midfieldsevely. And no, I am not taking anything from Schalke. I thought they were brilliant. They played just like Olympiakos did, only difference being they scored, and didn’t concede.
First, seeing Andre Santos’ name on the team sheet gave me the jitters. And to see Jefferson Farfan on the flank gave me more. I have never seen much of Farfan, except from few seasons back, when he was a pacy winger bamboozling Milan’s famous defence. Well, it was these two very men, who would almost set the tone for the entire match.
With Arsene Wenger still serving that stupid UEFA ban, he was cozied up with Ivan Gazidis, in the director’s box, and the game was also being watched by moneybags Kroenke and Peter Hill Wood, having a nice cigar, and probably some hot chocolate, as they laughed over the latest profits of the club, on their comfy seats.
Anyways, to the match, or the excuse for it. Arsenal, as usual, had majority of the possession, with nothing to show for it. Except, for Gervinho running in circles of course. Farfan was a livewire throughout, and it was clear Schalke knew the vulnerabilities of Andre Santos, and camped on his flank for most of the evening.
In as early as the 14th minute, Afellay was let loose, with only Jenkinson to chase, and should have earned a penalty, when he was stopped in his tracks by Mannone. There was some contact, but the referee deemed it as a dive, and Arsenal escaped.
Arsenal lacked any cutting edge, with Gervinho up front. Aaron Ramsey looked out of depth far too often on the right flank, and slowly but surely Schalke were getting to grips with the game. Huntelaar had a great chance at the end of the first half, but shot wide, when he really should have scored. Arsenal on the other hand, barely mustered a shot on goal, or even an attempt at goal.
Schalke started the second half very brightly, with Schalke skipper Benedkit Howedes, almost finishing a right wing cross from Jefferson Farfan. Schalke were looking dangerous all over, as Arsenal failed to hold on to the ball when they got it. Even Cazorla was robbed off the ball numerous times.
Gervinho went clear on one ocassion, and managed to get past the defender, but took a blatant dive, when he lost control of the ball, and was duly given a yellow card. There was little to suggest Arsenal were looking for the win, with the lack of any changes from the bench.
As was constantly being told, it was expected Laurent Koscielny would come on to shore the defence, and move Vermaelen to left back to shore up the defence. But, that didn’t happen. Schalke, on the other hand bought on the dynamic Swiss midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta in place of a visibly tired Lewis Holtby, who was impressive with his distribution.
The change came in the 76th minute, when the ineffective Gervinho was replaced by Olivier Giroud, and he was met with a mix of jeers and cheers. But, seconds later, Arsenal were caught napping. Afellay headed in a ball, and Vermaelen was completely out of position. Huntelaar, in between Mertesacker and Santos, was marginally onside, and he took his chance gleefully. He is not one to miss.
And, Steve Bould bought on Andriy Arshavin and Serge Gnabry on, 6 minutes later, but with little avail. I wouldn’t want to criticize them, because there’s very little you can do, coming on so late. Gnabry tried a trick, but lost the ball 4 times, in 4 minutes, and the 4th time it proved costly, as a perfect counter from Schalke, on the right side, resulted in Afellay scoring the winner 4 minutes from time.
Oh, and Arsenal weren’t done yet. We had our first shot on target, I mean our first shot in the 93rd minute, when Gnabry had a go. The Schalke goalie must have been mightly pleased at having to do something in the game. That’s how toothless we were.
Positives, well nothing. Except from the fact that, we had one shot on target atleast. Against Norwich, we had none. And, we lost just 2-0. Schalke could have had more. Negatives, well, we were poor all around, should just do it.
The look on the captain’s face said it all. Vermaelen looked as clueless as anybody. To have fallen from Henry to Gervinho is a leap as big as the one attempted by Felix Baumgartner. The fans leaving the stadium, way before the final whistle, is an indicator of how feisty the AGM will be today. But, I am pretty sure, we will get the same old answers.
We want to make the club competitive. We have made a gazillion pounds over the last fiscal year. The team is just lacking some fitness. Once we have that, even our reserves can beat Barcelona.
Ah, that’s enough ranting of a match report. Have never ranted this much before. Not even after the 8-2. A win against QPR would soothe my nerves. Oh wait, let me brace myself to having to watch Bobby Zamora score a 93rd minute winner. How wonderful would that be.
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Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!