Thursday, October 30, 2008

Absolutely Gutted...Mental Mistakes Sink Us

Morning all. It's still early in the day and it's already been terrible. This is of course compounded by what happened yesterday at the Emirates...which we shall discuss.

If you didn't get to see the match, in which feelings went from distress to glee to absolute disaster, then you missed one hell of a match, if you were a neutral supporter. I, however, am not a neutral so the match was absolute shite for me. We were up 4-2 with 2 minutes to go in the match and managed to let them score 2 goals in those two minutes to tie it up, which was as good as a win for them. Let's face it, Tottenham are not a good team, they were way behind us in possession, never really looked that threatening, and yet came into our home and came away with an undeserved draw.

Some people will say that I should maybe give Sp*rs some credit for their comeback, but let's face it, it wasn't their efforts that created this result, it was mental mistakes by Arsenal players that let them come back and snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.

Manuel Almunia has been a fine keeper for the last year or so, but yesterday he went back to the Almunia that was from a few years back. He pretty much gifted them their first two goals. The first one he should have been able to get back and make the save on. The ball was so high in the air it seemed like it took an hour to come down yet he couldn't get back for it, and Lord knows what he was doing that far off of his line anyway.

Then we got back in it through Silvestre of all people and it seemed like order would be restored. This proved to be the case when we came out and scored early in the second half through William Gallas who seems to be able to attack set pieces much much better than he can defend them. We got another on a great play from Nasri and finished by Adebayor and you figured that 3-1 up at home was going to be a win.

We didn't want to make it easy on ourselves though so we let them get a goal on yet another gift from Almunia. Huddlestone shot from outside the box and Almunia just let it drop in front of him after making the save and Darren Bent knocked it in after just coming on. It was a save he really should have been able to hold on to and it made you a little nervous at 3-2. Robin van Persie made it 4-2 just a minute later though and it was comfortable again.

What happened next was absolutely shocking. Arsenal went into a period where we held almost all of the possession, just trying to run the clock down, and it was working. Heading into extra time with a 2 goal lead and they couldn't even get the ball. Then the unthinkable happened. Gael Clichy had the ball stopped and was looking around for where to pass next and came under some pressure from Jenas, the cunt. Next thing you know Clichy trips over the ball, Jenas steals it, dribbles 25 yards or so and knocks another past Almunia. So 4-3 at this point but still almost know time left...we'll be fine right? Not so. A header dropped to Luca Modric who had a shot come back off the post which we failed to clear or save and Lennon came in to snatch a draw. They celebrated like they had won the league and I wanted to kill myself.

It's not just the result that really makes this bad though. Of course I want to beat Sp*rs, who doesn't? But the point is the WAY that we drew the match. Mental errors and not being able to have the strong mentality to close out a game. Where is the leadership in the 89th minute when up 2 goals that says, "Let's close this game out and make sure we don't let them even have one chance of getting back in this." How do we let them score on 2 rebounded goals, and trip over the ball while trying to play keep away, and let David Bentley, the talentless cunt, score from 40 yards away when no other team has had trouble with them all year? I don't care if they got a new manager or not, it's the same players that have them bottom of the table and we made them look like title contenders with that comeback.

How much would a player like Gilberto Silva have helped in this situation? Imagine if he came on instead of Diaby or Eboue, would he allow them to make a comeback like that? He's the kind of intelligent, experienced player we need in these situations, and we let him go. I just can't see him coming into the match up 2 goals with 2 to go and not making sure everyone knew to keep their heads on straight and to hold onto the ball, and if they did get the ball from us I know he'd be fighting tooth and nail to get it back.

Everyone has a few bad games but Almunia was absolutely shocking this match. I thought Theo Walcott was fantastic but of course he came off to be replaced by Eboue who did nothing. I actually thought Gallas (who you know I am a critic of) had a very good game. He looked solid at the back and scored a great header. He is the captain though and some of the blame for a meltdown has to go to anyone in a leadership role. The team as a whole was at fault though. Silvestre could have closed down Jenas on the 3rd goal, Almunia and Clichy could certainly have had better games, but the fact is we completely blew it.

Arsene Wenger was as pissed as he's been in some time:

Well I am angry. I believe we produced an outstanding game and got the minimum result. We didn't keep the ball. We were there for the taking. We should have had a negative passing game but instead we exposed ourselves by trying to go five or six up. The team has outstanding potential. They learn from moments like that tonight.
It comes down to leadership and experience. You have to keep the ball away from them up by 2 with 2 minutes to go, and certainly after they pull 1 back. It should be common sense. My 8 year old team knows that.

I'm absolutely sick about it is the moral of the story. I don't want to think about the match anymore so I let all my feelings out on here. Feel free to do the same in an email or the comments and I'll read em on the podcast tomorrow. We've gotta recover from this loss and get ready for the next one, it's still a long season. Up the Gunners.


Joaquin said...

I still can't get over it. I was at the pub and i was shocked. Only comparable result in recent history I can think of is the cl game against liverpool last year when I felt this bad.

Mike said...

I had to watch this disaster on my laptop while sitting in class, so I think that kept me from being as emotionally invested as I usually would be. Still, it hurt. I'm sure my classmates were a bit surprised when I went from a huge smile to looking like someone had shot my dog in the final minutes. LOL

I will give some credit to Spurs though. They drew us into one of their kind of games and they didn't give up. Even their fans had abandoned them, it looked like the Spurs end of the Emirates was about 2/3 empty when they finally tied it.

Bottom line, it was very un-Arsenal like and we shouldn't have dropped points, but maybe we are tasting a little of the bad luck that Spurs had to deal with against us over the previous 20 games or so.

I'm just glad I don't really hate Spurs all that much. If this had happened against Chelsea I know I'd feel way worse.

Anonymous said...

Our midfield blows. Alonso's looking like he's worth twice what we bid.

Anonymous said...

We can't defend well enough and it really shows. We needed to buy over the summer because our midfield is too lightweight. If liverpool win the league and we drop out of top four it will down to one player - Alonso.

Anonymous said...

I saw the goals and agree with you 100%. Have to ad that the Spurs also got some very luck breaks in that game: rebounds, slips, etc. It all comes back eventually. But Arsenal shouldn't have let them be in a position to take advantage of the lucky breaks...

Anonymous said...

It is Wenger's mental mistake .

After Song/Eboue/Diaby came on, we lost the match.

I believe these 3 didn't even have one touch of the ball.

Eboue and Song are useless in midfield, cannot defend nor attack

When you bring two clowns like Song and Eboue in very tight affair, this is what happens.

Something's gotta give this year as Adebayor/Fabregas will leave next if Wenger keeps mixing idiots with world class players at the wrong moment

JH92 said...

fuking awful match. i nearly puked afterwards i was that shocked when the final whistle went. almunia was bad but bentleys shot was hard to stop cause it had lots of swirve on it and the huddlestone shot hit almunia in the face. on some other blogs people were saying why were no one closing there players down, where was denilson? and i agree. cesc and denilson cant play 2gether. its like gerard and lampard 4 england. wenger needs to buy a DM in January.

frontwheel said...

You're actually quite intelligent. ;-)

Gooner Get Ya said...

We NEED the stands at the Emirates to be named. Click on We have history lets be Proud of it and show it off. We hate Yellow Quadrant!

Anonymous said...

Wenger has four problem areas, so he needs to make four moves. His problem areas are goalkeeper, centreback, defensive midfielder and captain.

1. Drop Almunia, who can’t even dominate his six-yard box, let alone his penalty area.

Use Fabianski against Fenerbahce and let the Pole show us he’s a goalkeeper. All summer I thought Almunia would lose his place by Xmas. As Jens Lehmann said, How many big games has he won for Arsenal?

2. He needs a big , nasty centreback who is six foot four like Vidic. He uses raiding fullbacks but lacks an anchorman to protect his back four. He should buy two big, tough Belgians. There are dozens of them. Just buy a big Belgian and put the No5 on his back. Then put another one at No.6 in the Alonso role.

3.Defensive midfielder.

He lost Flamini and Gilberto after selling Diarra, so that was just Edu &Vieira revisited. Wenger is consistent, give him that. Denude midfield, then wonder why your results are patchy, why you concede too many goals.

In the summer of 2007 he made a bold and brilliant move when he replaced the Invisible Wall with the one-man whirlwind. A year later he lost both and did not replace either. If he wanted another Flamini, he should have signed Di Rossi from Roma. If he wanted another Gilberto, he should have signed Kompany.

Ten games into the Premier League season, the teams that have reliable anchormen are at the top. Man United have Carrick back, and Hargreaves in reserve, plus the energetic, pro-active Anderson, who is more like a left-footed Flamini. Liverpool have Mascherano and Xabi Alonso and Lucas. And Chelsea have replaced Makelele with Mikel, a big strong boy with a good touch. Aston Villa have Gareth Barry, who is similar to Alonso

Denilson, bless him, is a mini-Fabregas. But he can’t do what Fabregas does, he can’t do what Flamini did, and he’s too small and too young to do what Gilberto did.

4. Cesc Fabregas will walk in the summer if Arsenal go on like this.

Spain has become a proper team which has improved as Arsenal have declined, so Fabregas is now playing in the best team Spain has had for 50 years, and the worst team Arsenal have had for four years.

If you’ve played in a balanced, powerful team, you do not want to play in a flawed team where the keeper is a joke, the goalscorer runs offside all the time, and your Keystone Cops defence panics every time there is a high ball into the box

When Fabregas plays for Spain he knows that David Villa and Fernando Torres can score at any time. They are hot and can grab every kind of goal and score from half-chances ; van Persie and Adebayor are flaky and unreliable When did Villa or Torres miss the chances that Adebayor wastes? Would they petulantly barge the keeper as van Persie did at Stoke?

David Villa’s runs in Spain’s recent game against Belgium were quite amazing. And Belgium are not mugs. They are improving rapidly. Villa’s movement and finishing are fabulous. What a player ! And he wanted to join Arsenal last summer. Instead, Wenger bought a kid from Marseilles and a kid from Cardiff.

For Spain, Fabregas has the crafty, strategic Senna anchoring midfield, the tough Puyol at the back, Xavi, who can run and link all day, and the magnificent Casillas in goal. Spain is a real team that has won something. This Arsenal is an unbalanced team which has won nothing.

Fabregas is a steely player, very determined as well as very skilful. He is the most popular player and should be captain. He can rally the team and lift the crowd.

5. The best way to improve a team without buying new players is to tighten them up with a new training regime. Give them a new input from somebody. Therefore Pat Rice should be replaced by Martin Keown. It would be ridiculous for Keown to join Tony Adams at Portsmouth. Those two have never got on well because they are different animals.

Unfortunately, Wenger is a bit weird about Keown’s involvement in the Champions League run to Paris. From what Flamini and Toure said, his advice helped them. Arsenal kept clean sheets and got to the European Cup Final for the first time and lost 2-1 to Barcelona with 10 men.

But I gather that Wenger does not like to hear any mention of Keown’s contribution. It’s a secret we’re not supposed to know. Why would he be weird about that? Because he’s the smallest big man in world football? Because he’s a radical cleric, an ayatollah of attacking football who refuses to bother with such dull matters as basic defending? Is it : I am the way, the truth and the light, I am the true messiah, thou shalt worship no other god but me ?

Well, the radical cleric’s doctrine has failed. Packing the team with French and African kids has failed. That is what he did in his last days at Monaco, and it got him the sack. He got rid of all their experienced players and eventually the president said : Enough !

Basically, all managers lose the plot and Wenger had a bad summer. If you have a bad summer, you have a bad season. If your squad stays about the same, it’s going backwards.

However, the long-term slide is more worrying.

Since 2004, Arsenal has been a declining team, and this month they could get hammered by Manchester United and humiliated by Chelsea. Their title challenge is over already and anxious Gooners no longer want to hear a once-great manager say, “I believe in this group of players.” The fans don’t believe in this group of players. They really don’t believe in this group of players. Many of them would like to keep Sagna, Clichy and Fabregas and replace the rest of the team.

If he has any sense in this situation, Wenger would now concentrate on the FA Cup while carefully accumulating more points than Aston Villa’s well-organised journeymen.

I reckon Arsenal will finish fourth.

But if Aston Villa are fourth, I’m going to say : He has 26 scouts but he couldn’t discover Ashley Young, who was playing for Watford on the other side of a hedge at London Colney.