*If you are incensed at the title then my idea worked, go ahead and leave a few choicest phrases in the comments section. But since your here already, why don’t you give it a read?
Ladies, Gets! Nice to see you here, the mood has been a little dampened after the loss while the naysayers and the yellow eyed ones (chiefly Mancs and Spuds of course) caw an ugly song at our downfall. But chip up lads, better things are just round the corner.
The game against BvB brought us down from that lovely psychedelic trip of good performances like a syringe of adrenaline to the junkie’s heart! The jarring impact of that loss at home travels through the gooning contingent like a shock-wave bringing us back to earth and reminding us that we are far from the much lauded “finished product”. The experts and columnists have started to question our start to the season with a few having the audacity to liken our performances to nothing more than a flash in the pan. Ignoring the white noise, I choose to look at this as a positive.
Wipe those incredulous looks off your mugs, pour yourself a cold one and harken to me.
The ‘law of Averages’ predicted this, gravity was bound to catch up to us at some point of time and our squad, promising though it is, is yet far from the echoes of the “Invincibles” who set the league aflame while simultaneously flipping off Mother mathematics (I’m an engineer, so yes, ‘mother’ it is).
To speak plainly: We had this coming.
Until the BvB encounter, we had been spared the shock of encountering (in ‘Arry Redknapp’s words) a truly “top top class” team, a team that is humming, one that boasts of a talented players working in tandem to form a deadly force. Simply put a team that is as good if not better than the Arsenal.
The opposition that the league has thrown at us so far has been (I’m not going to mince words here) SHIT with the exception of Spuds who are in were (and still are) still in a state of unrest due to the massive changes to their squad. In other words, the acid tests are still to come. The game at Selhurst Park will be the only easy fixture (at least theoretically) for the next month or so during we meet the Pensioners, the Kopites and the devils in England not to mention Dortmund and Marseille in the European tournament. In some ways, I’m glad that the loss came sooner than later, as it means that suddenly all the complacency will be tossed through the window and the upcoming opposition will be taken a lot more seriously.
The Dortmund loss would have served to puncture a few over-inflated egos and eliminated the undeserving sense of invincibility that would have been wafting around the squad. While the reasons for the defeat are often numerous, I’d point to three key factors:
The first being “intimidation”, thought this really shouldn’t be a valid reason for the defeat, it unfortunately is! With the exception of Giroud, Cazorla and Rosicky the entire team looked cowed. Though, I rate BvB quiet highly, the fear and uncertainty that the Arsenal displayed was quite ridiculous. It was disturbingly reminiscent of the last game we played at Old Trafford, we walked in with our heads down and left with scarlet rears after an undeserved hiding chiefly because the mere mention of “United Away” seems to loosen the sturdiest of bladders.
Perhaps Dortmund’s reputation as ‘Champion’s League finalists’ played a part, or perhaps it was their exploits against Real wherein they reduced the Spanish side to a bloody pulp that did the trick.
Every winning team through the history of football, hell the history of sports has boasted of confident if not downright arrogant players. Characters like these are essential, whether it’s the quiet confidence radiating from Dennis’s very presence, Henry’s supercilious strut or Pires’s cocksure grin, they serve a simple purpose; namely inspiring confidence in the entire team and instilling a belief that victory is inherently achievable.
Knowing that your XI boats of players like Bergkamp, Pires, Ozil or Santi is far from enough, the team needs to BELIEVE that they can win, IRRESPECTIVE of the opposition or the circumstance. But such confidence comes with time and impressive performances. That being said, stonking Chelsea to the moon would definitely help. (It would also wipe that smirk off Jose’s oily face, which is always a HUGE boner… er I mean bonus)
The second reason is strategic; tactically they lined up as expected but were shorn of the much vaulted Gundogan but on field Klopp ensured that his side took advantage of our weakness. Let me elucidate.
Arsenal, being the most technically gifted teams in England means that 90% of the opposition we encounter tend to sit back and try to soak up pressure rather than aggressively take on players who most likely to nutmeg (or otherwise embarrass) you and initiate an attacking move while you bite the turf. This means two things:
1.That our XI as a whole have got used to taking their time with possession especially before a play has been created. We were completely unused to playing opposition who would actively challenge for the ball during open play.
2. Arsenal enjoy not only space but time with the ball too, as no team so far has dared to try and get on our feet or pressured the Gunners to up the tempo of the game unless they so willed it.
Klopp’s mutated brand of Tiki-taka (Gegenpressing) was perfect against a team that had grown a little too Bentdneresque (fat, overly self-satisfied and hirsute) for our own good. Arsenal ideally take a few slow passes in the rear end of the midfield as build-up play for an attacking move. BvB took advantage of precisely this habit and put us to sword for the opener. An exhausted looking Ramsey was caught snoozing and BvB licked their lips as they drew first blood.
The third reason is simple but I’m not certain if it’s completely valid, I’ll leave that for you to decide. I’m of the opinion that the Arsenal midfield is still in a state of flux, Santi’s recent return and the new-found importance of Flamini’s mad-dogness not to mention Ozil’s addition all mean that the midfield dynamic is vastly different from what existed towards the end of the previous season. The midfielders are yet to gel and their current play is a mere shadow of what is to come once the midfielders start to understand their partners mentalities and movements. For all their brilliance Ozil, Santi, Ramsey and Jack are barely aware of one another’s runs which will change over time spent on the field with one another. The haruspex would say that the best is yet to come.
I’ve taken my time with the negatives, but it would be a grievous error to not doff our hats to Ollie G. The man has been brilliant, not only did he come out swinging, he found himself at the right place at the right time to score our equalizer, anyone who calls this coincidence/luck/fluke or any other abrca-kadabra bullshit should close this window and stop following football entirely. Not only did he score, he was a constant threat through the game and he was one of the few who refused to wet themselves when faced with the yellow and black. His performances over the season so far have convinced me that any striker who comes in will only serve to partner him or provide cover, not displace him.
Arsenal’s response to the defeat will be pivotal in determining how the season goes. If Wenger’s words (and howls of anger I suppose) penetrate the skulls, the team will soon shake off the shackles of complacency and will be raring to wipe the floor with Palace. A brutal hammering of a rudderless ship (and by that I’m referring to the absence of a manager) starring half-dozen or so goal would be just what the doctor ordered!
*If you were frothing at the mouth after seeing the title, expecting to see some pessimistic clown spew garbage, then happy b’day to me! Leave your thoughts in comments section.