Arsenal 3 Anderlecht 3: The Gunners’ Defense Implode in Typical Style
Arsenal 3 (Arteta 25′, Sanchez 29′, Oxlade-Chamberlain 58′) – Anderlecht 3 (Vanden Borre 61′, 73′ (pen), Mitrovic 90′)
It’s one of those mornings when you wake up and be like, “what the fuck happened last night?” :S
It’s the kind of scenario where you feel the stench of alcohol on your breath, some pain coupling with a big swelling on your eye and when you leave your room to see your friends laughing so hard at the sight of you till one of them summons the courage to tell you what you did in the previous night. He tells you how you drank and got so high to the point you slapped the bouncer at the club and received a punch on your face and you didn’t feel anything, then he goes on to tell you all about your escapades…
After beating the traffic to rush home to watch this game, I felt that it was going to be a stroll in the park because the team had started gathering momentum from their back to back league wins / clean sheets. Alexis Sanchez was the name on every lips as he scored 10 goals in 16 games making him the second highest ever Gunner to achieve such a feat. It took Ian Wright 12 games to score 10 Arsenal goals, Alexis 16 games, Eduardo da Silva 19, Marouane Chamakh 21, Nwankwo Kanu 24, Jose Antonio Reyes 26, Lukas Podolski 26, Dennis Bergkamp 26, Thierry Henry 28 and Olivier Giroud 31.
From the onset, we looked like we wanted it more and Danny Welbeck was scythed down by some daft bloke in the box. I was so convinced that Mikel Arteta was going to score the spot kick and the manner at which he did it was classy. Then Alexis popped again with a free kick that hit the wall but he had the technique to fire his rebound through the wall and into the net to make it two.
The Gunners seemed to take their foot of the pedal then you see a player like Sanchez working hard to win the ball further up the pitch (remainder: Arsenal were two goals up) to gift it to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that evaded Anthony Vanden Borre like he wasn’t there before placing it past the goalie, we all thought the game was done and dusted. Three goals up, 30 minutes to go, cruise control – so we thought.
Against the run of play, Anthony Vanden Borre, a fullback, that had a torrid defensive display all night long, drifts into the box unnoticed (offside!!!!) to side foot a drilled cross in. Fine. 3 – 1. Not a bad result in the grand scale of things. Just a dent in what seemed to be a great European night. Then the unthinkable happened. With the striker far from Szczesny’s goal, an experienced bloke like Nacho Monreal grabs him and wrestles him to the ground like he owes him a fortune, the ref points to the spot and the foolish Spaniard goes to grab the official’s arm like he’s trying to get a pound of flesh off it like Shylock. Vanden Borre sends Szczesny the wrong way. 3 – 2.
That goal took the wind of Arsenal’s sails and the home side looked clearly rattled. Anderlecht continued to grow in confidence, the Gunners looked bereft of it. With 10 minutes to go, the manager replaces a jaded Ox and an the ineffectual Welbeck for Lukas Podolski and Tomas Rosicky. One must wonder what those two have to do to get a game, especially when Santi Cazorla has been playing shit. That’s a tale for another day.
Late on, the inevitable happened. A simple cross for Aleksandr Mitrovic saw the 20-year-old striker get ahead of the slow Per Mertesacker to head the ball past Szczesny that was poorly positioned. As expected, Twitter went haywire with the fans raining more curses than the amount of thunderbolts at Zeus’ disposal. When things are going on well on the pitch, we tend to sweep the club’s issues under the carpet. In the wake of such capitulation like what we experienced last night, we need to take some more things into perspective.
It is just me, or did anyone notice how out midfield crumbled when Arteta was substituted? To add to our woes, the boss has confirmed that the Spaniard has “done his hamstring” and he doesn’t know how long he’d be out for. This means that we would have some of that Flamini goodness for more games to come. Just Perfect. Speaking of Per-fect, what the hell has happened to the reliable Mertesacker was used to know? Despite having the height of Jack’s beanstalk, Mertesacker has been poor aerially this season. Abel Hernandez did it when Hull visit and Mitrovic has replicated the same feat. His partnership with Monreal looked so shaky and it seemed as if they’d blended when the Gunners kept back to back clean sheets. Maybe the opposition was bullcrap.
We have two months to go before the January transfer window opens and if Wenger chooses not to invest in a proper center back and holding midfielder, we would have ourselves to blame. The stupidity of the likes of Per Mertesacker, Monreal and to some extent, Flamini, has shrouded the good shifts Alexis Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain put today. But that’s football, one minute your team is unstoppable, the next minute they’re shite.
However, the way the defense imploded is a real cause for concern, especially when Dortmund has developed the habit of scoring four goals in consecutive games. The Gunners are five points behind the German outfit and and with two games to go, it has become another case of settling for second place and hoping to avoid the likes of Bayern, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the next knockout round.
All attention will drift to Swansea this weekend and it would be interesting to see how Lukasz Fabianski would react to seeing his former teammates again.
Time to go for my training.
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