Thoughts on Arsenal’s Disappointing Loss to Manchester City
When I think about the inconsistency of Arsenal’s performances this season, I tend to wonder what went really wrong for Arsene Wenger and his team. The club’s fixture list shows that the Gunners are set to play Swansea, Chelsea, Brighton (potentially), Liverpool, Stoke, Sunderland and Bayern Munich in the space of a month.
The writing has been on the wall for quite some time that the core first team players are getting fatigued and an aging Mikel Arteta’s body couldn’t take it any more, as he’s set to be out for three weeks with a calf strain. Prior to the injury that sidelined the Spanish maestro, he had featured in 25 games already and he usually plays for 90 minutes unlike Le Substituteur, Lukas Podolski.
Unfortunately, even the most optimistic Arsenal fans know that Arsene Wenger isn’t going to delve into the market to sign a holding midfielder because of the likes of Francis Coquelin and Abou Diaby.
Wenger has shown the world how he can actually catch a grenade for Diaby. When Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna returned from their lengthy lay-offs, Wenger made them play a host of Under-21 fixtures and closed door friendlies to give them the much-needed match fitness before they returned to the first team.
In Diaby’s case, only an hour of an Under-21 fixture was more than enough for Wenger to hand him a start against the defending champions, Manchester City. Wenger had the option of fielding a fit and eager-to-impress Coquelin but he chose Diaby.
With Arteta out of the fray, the Frenchman clearly struggled and gifted the opposition the ball a couple of times. He showed his attacking prowess when he combined superbly with Podolski but his performance plummeted into mediocrity afterwards.
I’m really a fan of Abou Diaby and I acknowledge his massive talent and potential, but he’s not ready for some first-team football right now. He still needs more games to get a hang of things and the Under-21s league offers the right platform.
While it was quite obvious that Laurent Koscielny deserved a red card, the booking brandished to Vincent Kompany was somewhat fictitious and his club, Manchester City, has lodged an appeal to the FA to probably reverse the decision.
Kompany was a colossus at the back and he was more than a match for Arsenal’s center forward, Theo Walcott.
There were a lot of lessons learned from the defeat, ranging from Arsene Wenger’s lineup to the performances of some players.
In goal, Wojciech Szczesny did well to save Dzeko’s penalty and he was almost blameless for both goals conceded, but the Pole’s distribution has been a major cause for concern in my honest opinion. When he receives back passes, he usually dallies on the ball before lashing it out wide with the hope that Sagna would nod the ball.
His clearances hardly pass the center circle and in worst cases, he blasts them into Row Z.
In the defense, I feel that the withdrawal of Per Mertesacker was a very wrong call by Wenger. Just like Chelsea, the boss decided to play the time bomb-esque combination of Vermsielny and it was the French defender that self-destructed this time.
The fullbacks worked really hard for their team and I must say that I was impressed with their determination, work rate and balance. Bacary Sagna has urged his teammates to keep their heads up because there’s a crunch clash against Swansea and as he believes, Arsenal isn’t far away from third place.
As stated earlier, drafting Diaby straight into the lineup was regarded as a poor piece of judgment but it was also evident that fatigue is creeping in on Santi Cazorla. It’s high time the Spaniard gets some well-deserved rest, as the Gunners have a very capable Tomas Rosicky in its ranks.
However, Jack Wilshere stood out from the crowd with another 5-star performance worth commending.
Jackie Boy was in the thick of things all game long and he got on the end of some rash tackles but he always dusted himself up and continued playing the beautiful game. If Wilshere’s teammates were half as determined as he is, I doubt if that trophy drought cliche would have been sufficing.
You don’t need any soothsayer to tell you how Arteta was sorely missed.
Arteta is a calming presence as a deep-lying midfielder. His soft touch and intelligent decisions with the ball allow Arsenal to keep possession of the ball. He has an amazing pass completion percentage of 92.6% and he has been an inspirational leader in every sense of the word.
Arsenal’s attack was nothing to write home about with Walcott having another woeful outing as Arsenal’s center forward. It took the Englishman 90 minutes to register his first meaningful shot that beat Joe Hart but Joleon Lescott was on hand to make a vital block. Olivier Giroud on the other hand, was all over the place and he failed to capitalize on the golden chance he got from a corner kick.
Speaking of forwards, Arsenal has ruled out a move for David Villa and Wenger has stated that sealing a new contract for Walcott is more of a priority than signing players this month. The boss also went on to say that Podolski can also play as a center forward, so he’s covered in the attacking department. Sad.
The vital clash against Swansea comes up next tomorrow and I hope that the Gunners will pick themselves up and put up a performance that will be good enough to earn a Fourth Round berth against Brighton and Hove Albion.