In any other profession you would have to ask if the employees had been out on the lash the night before, for what other reason could there be for such a dire performance as the one which we witnessed against Southampton on New Year’s Day?
From a team which picked off Newcastle and slammed seven past them to one which needed a massive dose of luck to escape with a draw against the team at the bottom of the league, this holiday season has shown us the very worst and the very best of Arsenal. If it were a person it would be on meds for bi-polar disorder.
Four attempts on goal, one on target and 52% possession doesn’t even begin to tell the story of the game which, when you look at it in the cold light of day was probably a point robbed from Southampton.
At the back Bacary Sagna had what could quite possibly be his worst game in an Arsenal shirt. I don’t know if he’s tired or distracted or what is going on with him but his clearance, a word I use very loosely, which resulted in Southampton grabbing the opener was just one of a series of half-hearted efforts he made to deal with the threat that the Saints offered.
It was interesting though to see a number of people calling for Sagna to be sold, the same people, no doubt, who have been crying all season that Arsenal haven’t offered him a new contract yet.
Up top we struggled to get the ball to Theo which resulted in him being absolutely anonymous for the majority of the game and it is not unreasonable to ask that if the press claimed he held all the cards after his performance against Newcastle does his performance yesterday mean that they are now back in Arsenal’s hands?
Of course, the situation is not as clear-cut as that but it does highlight that Walcott has a lot of work to do before he can be considered in the same breath as his idol Thierry Henry and showed why Arsene Wenger was perhaps ready to play Walcott through the middle for so long.
There wasn’t one player who you could point to and say that they had a good game, it was a collective effort of awfulness and a reminder of the crap which has come our way this season. While Southampton played well and should get credit, Arsenal should be looking to collect all three points against a side who were bottom of the table before we arrived and to do that we need to turn up and play as if we aren’t expecting to just walk in, take the points and then head home.
But this is not the first time we’ve failed to turn up against the so-called lesser opposition and it speaks to a mental problem with the side. The movement was gone, the willingness to work for each other was nowhere to be seen and the blame game was all too evident with players pointing at the space a player should have been rather than worrying about getting the ball back.
We can, of course, point to the fact that we took 13 points from the last 15 available and that is not to be sniffed at, but the consistency for which we are constantly reminded is lacking from this side still remains beyond our grasp and I simply do not know why that is.
What we do to fix this, I don’t know. It has been a problem for a number of seasons now and I still don’t have the answer. It is easy to work hard when things are going well but the measure of the team is how it gets stuck in when having an off day. In the interests of fairness I could point to the fact that we got a point when we really didn’t deserve one and that is something of a plus but for a team that has top-four aspirations at the very least, it is scant consolation.
Next up for the team is Swansea, away, in the FA Cup and I’ve no doubt that we will see some rotation and that doesn’t fill me with the greatest dose of optimism I’ve ever had if I’m honest. The team we fielded at St. Mary’s was, Mertesacker aside, our strongest team, and as we’ve already found this season, Swansea can be more than a match for us.
It is easy to point to the transfer window and claim that that will cure all that ails us but the transfer window is not a quick fix and it is far from the answer to all our problems when you know that we have the personnel to do better than we did yesterday.
That being said, it certainly won’t hurt to reinforce. Whether we do or not, of course, no-one but Arsene knows.------------
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