Southampton 1 (Ramirez 34) – Arsenal 1 (do Prado (O.G) 41)
Man of the Match – Gaston Ramirez (Southampton)
I want to get this straight. This is not going to be one of those match reviews which seems to be like a peel covering up the fruit. This is going to be a direct and straight RANT at Arsenal’s performance last night.
Arsenal made no changes from the squad that zipped 7 past a hapless Newcastle, just 3 days earlier. Southampton welcomed back Uruguay international and record signing Gaston Ramirez back into the starting lineup.
Arsenal started brightly, with more intent than the Saints, but didn’t carve out a meaningful opening. One of the contests to watch out for was the young Luke Shaw taking on former Southampton winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Theo Walcott was making his return to his old stomping ground as well. Arsenal’s only chance was a Santi Cazorla strike. Nigel Adkins, who had named Artur Boruc as the goalkeeper, almost seemed to be regretting his decision.
The former Celtic keeper looked nervous throughout. First, he fumbled a corner, which he should have easily caught, and then he fumbled a Sagna cross when he looked like he had saved it. Luckily, Arsenal didn’t have any player attacking.
Southampton grew into the game, and got their breakthrough on 34 minutes. Lukas Podolski, with no space to run into, was forced to retreat, with 3 Saints players tracking him down. A complete defensive mix up between Gibbs, Koscielny and Sagna, where the Gunners failed to clear the lines with 3 opportunities to do so, resulted in Ramirez taking full advantage, and smashing the ball past Szczesny.
Arsenal, however must have been smiling at their luck, when a Walcott free kick was bundled home by Saints’ Brazilian midfielder Guly de Prado. Back on level terms at half time.
However, the second half was a story of lack of concentration, lack of a winning mentality and a total lack of fight. Southampton were clearly on the ascendancy and should have won the game, but for Szczesny.
do Prado’s rasping shot was saved by Szczesny, before Jason Puncheon, completely unmarked, saw his shot go narrowly wide. Ramirez’ effort went just over the bar. The Saint’s must be feeling sorry for themselves, when Ramirez had the ball in the back of the net, but the referee ruled it out for offside.
A long ball hoofed in, Koscielny was the only defender in the box, with two Saint’s players attacking. Ramirez received and swiveled to net home. Arsenal were lucky to escape.
So, what do you do when you need a win? Take off Chamberlain and Cazorla, and bring on Ramsey and the incredibly creative Gervinho on of course. Gervinho, in his woeful avatar, barely beat Saints right back Cork, in over 5 attempts to dribble past him. When he did, he managed to hit the side netting.
So, Arsenal escaped with a lucky draw from the fortress that is Saint Mary’s Stadium.
Right, here goes the rant. Let’s start with Bacary Sagna. He may have proved himself to be the most consistent player in the squad, but his attitude has stunk in the last couple of games. His mind just doesn’t seem to be in it. I can’t even imagine how Sagna will stand up to Frank Ribery, if he cannot even take on Gabriel Obertan and Guly de Prado, who must be the worst left wingers in the history of left wingers! He lost the ball over and over again, and his passes were misplaced countless times.
Next up, Kieran Gibbs. Ok, I cannot get why he has already been handed such a massive contract. Yes, he is English and a good tenacious player. But, he is just another Ashley Cole in the making. About his performance, it was poor. He cannot defend when the opposition player is on his back. He just cannot. His attitude wasn’t great either. With 10 seconds of the game left, he was trudging along like I do in the park, to take the throw in, when we clearly needed to push for one final attack.
Now, this may sound stupid to some, but have a look at the Manchester United or Manchester City or even effing Sp*rs these days. You wouldn’t see such poor attitude, in a must win game like this. Their players would be hurrying about to make sure they can launch an attack.
Next up, in the firing line, Lukas Podolski. This guy is the top earner at the club at the moment, taking home a whopping £107,000. But, yesterday was one of his worst performances in an Arsenal shirt. He never looked like he was in a crossing position. He never fought for a single ball. There was moments when Cazorla and Walcott played him in, and he just gave up even fighting for the ball. Seriously, this is our highest paid player. Apart from that, he had a go at the senior most player in the team, Mikel Arteta. What was that about. This wasn’t even 10% of the effort he put in against Newcastle.
Now, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Another player who I feel has been handed out a new shiny contract too early in his career. Yes, he had a great first season, but this season he has been a shadow of himself. He could barely beat Luke Shaw, a talented left-back himself, but one whom Chamberlain should be familiar with. All Chamberlain was happy doing was to backtrack to Sagna, or hope that he is played in behind Shaw, so he can have a run at the defence. I cannot even remember the last time he beat a defender.
Now, Theo Walcott. All this talk about him being offered £110,000 pounds a week, plus a signing on fee pisses me off. Clearly, on yesterday’s performance, he deserved peanuts. He proved why is so inept when up against well drilled and deep lying defences. Soothampton knew that weakness of his and capitalized. Walcott barely touched the ball in the first half. Southampton played deep, giving little space and time.
Walcott doesn’t have enough guile or trickery up his sleeve to beat a single defender in the world. Against Newcastle, he was lucky because the Magpies played a high line, and offered Walcott plenty of space to run in behind them. Fonte and Yoshida managed to close him down on every ocassion possible. This talk of him emulating Thierry Henry just gives me the laughs. Henry would have single-handedly taken that Southampton defence to the cleaners.
And finally, dear old Gervinho. They say, teams could lose some important players to the African Cup of Nations. I think this year, the tournament will do more benefit than harm. I can’t wait for it to get started.
Gervinho seriously needs to hire a career counselor, because football is clearly not a job he can do. He looked devoid of ideas, any pace, and trickery. He didn’t even do what he usually does, and that is run around in circles. At one point, he just fell out of thin air, and started rolling on the ground like a road roller.
He must be the only footballer in the world who gets confused at having the ball at his feet. And he gets paid a miserly £70,000 a week for that!! That’s what I would earn in 10 years time. I know a 6 year old kid in my building who could dribble better that that, and moreover, he would do it on a cement pitch!
Now, on to the tactics. Yesterday was a clear demonstration, where Arsenal have clearly and so horrible fallen off the pace with Manchester United, over the past 7 seasons. There were no tactics. No tweaks to the system. No adjustments made. Arsenal played the same football they have been playing, and in the end payed for it, with two vital points.
The one change I have seen at Arsenal, this season, is the number of crosses coming in. And, we did that well. But, why, I have no idea. Walcott didn’t fight for a single header. That’s because he can’t. Even if he did, he would only be able to reach Fonte’s midriff. So, best solution is to stay put, and not make a fool out of yourself. There were so many pointless crosses played in yesterday. It was painful to watch those crosses just roll out of play on the opposite flank. Everyone knows Walcott isn’t going to win a single one of them, and even after realizing that over a period of half an hour, the team continued to do the same.
What was even more starting was that the supply of crosses stopped completely, when the big target man Olivier Giroud came on. Arsenal suddenly switched to passing the ball around. Clearly, the manager needs to find his old tactics book, wipe off the dust, and take a leaf out of it.
The substitutions too completely were beyond me. Ramsey and Gervinho coming on for Cazorla and Chamberlain. I have nothing against Ramsey, because he is a kid with potential, and works his socks off, but with Gervinho, there is nothing. Like one of my friends said, Arshavin could create more even if he just walks on the pitch. But, no, he didn’t even make the bench.
I would have liked to see Tomas Rosicky come on, and take the attack into the heart of Southampton, but clearly the manager had other ideas.
In a final word, I do not want to take anything away from Southampton. They deserved the 3 points, and were unlucky to end up with only one, thanks to a calamitous moment of defending.
Arsenal, get your act straight before its too late. Sp*rs and Chelsea have already created a gap, and while we may have plugged it last season, this season just seems to be completely another story!
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