Why Have We Become so Preditable?
At the turn of the New Year, Arsenal hit the kind of form champions would exhibit and with Manchester City faltering in their title charge, second place looked certain for Arsene Wenger and his men. With nine wins on the bounce, Chelsea arrived at the Emirates with a game plan that worked out well for Jose Mourinho and his team. As expected, Arsenal had more possession but Chelsea had more shots as well as efforts on target. The Blues went on to beat Crystal Palace and seal the title but the message was clear, if you smother Arsenal enough, you can actually go home with a point.
Arsenal visited Hull and it seemed like service as usual but when Gary Monk and his Swansea hordes came to the Emirates, he adopted a defensive setup that left no stones upturned. With Gyifl Sigurdsson playing a ‘false nine’ role, Swansea lacked a focal point in attack and their defending was very resolute. Lukasz Fabianski might have received the Man of the Match award but in my honest opinion, it was a case of Arsenal’s poor finishing, rather than the Polish goalie’s heroics. Arsenal’s first shot on target came in the 59th minute but they mustered nine in total. Of their 23 shots, 17 came in the second half. The Gunners bossed the possession stats but it counted for nothing as Bafetembi Gomis and the much talked-about Goal Decision System contributed to the Gunners’ woes.
Old Trafford was a different proposition with the home side reducing the Gunners to having no shot on goal in the first 45 minutes. A defeat would have put the Gunners chances of finishing in third place under threat but thanks to Theo Walcott / Tyler Blackett for making sure that Manchester United go through the stress of playoffs next season. Walcott has been having good cameos but that’s a tale for another blog post.
After the long wait for the so-called game in hand, Arsenal and Sunderland lined up at the Emirates with the visitors needing a point to secure their Premier League status for another season at least. Dick Advocaat tore a script from the Jose Mourinho / Garry Monk manual – smother the Gunners and deny them space, they’d do nothing! Arsenal had a whopping 75 percent possession as well as 28 shots attempt and paltry eight on target but Costel Pantilimon went back home with a clean sheet. When Vito Mannone came up against his former side, he was beaten twice.
For the third home game in a row, the Gunners have failed to register a goal and have been very predictable from an attacking standpoint. The goals have just dried up like some well in the Kalahari desert. The usually reliable goalscoring sources have found it hard to score with Olivier Giroud on the spotlight for enduring a rather shitty run of form. Following criticism from SkySports pundit, Thierry Henry, Giroud has hit back,
‘I heard he was saying too many dull things. That was a bomb and it had its desired effect’
Giroud is the alpha-dog in Arsenal’s attack but other players haven’t stepped up in recent weeks. While we can associate Santi Cazorla’s recent lack of goals due to his new deep-lying role in midfield, the same cannot be said for Mesut Ozil, that has had many opportunities he chose to create for his teammates rather than execute himself. Alexis Sanchez is another player that has blown cold in recent weeks but his double against Hull was a reminder of his ability.
Arsenal has only West Brom left before the FA Cup final with Aston Villa and I only hope they can get their shooting boots again.
They have become so predictable and it’s a challenge that has to be mitigated.
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