Written by Mean Lean on Monday, 12 November 2012 13:14
Time has run away from me this weekend so my start of the Fulham match review did not get finished. It is still floating around in limbo. I am usually the OCD type so even if my words will not be written then I will still have to finish writing something just so everything is in place on this website, organised and historical. Not this time, I am breaking free from it today and shall leave those unfinished words to float around in limbo. Why? well partly because some of it no longer relevant.
For me, I admit it was pretty scathing. I was pretty damn frustrated after the Fulham game. My finger was out pointing all over the place. Defensive failure, squad rotation, individual errors, the whole caboodle.
Today I have slowly put my finger back in my pocket and instead I have been thinking about how we are going to tidy up this mess that has been left by a number of people at various times. A mess that isn't as straight forward as we like to think it is.
As supporters we tend to look at our own failures or greatness in every game but I want to credit Fulham for a spirited and talented display at what is or at least currently used to be a difficult venue.
Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov were the stand out creative players on the day and that says a lot about our current form when Fulham have the artistry in a game against us at home.
But I want to delve a little closer at what we are seeing on the pitch from our own group of players. I have spent the last few weeks frowning and scratching my head, the performances on the pitch at times have been shocking but nobody is going to easily convince me that we do not have quality players and that is minus the players we have out through injury.
I had my eyes wide open against Liverpool and Manchester City, I know what they can do. I know what Cazorla is capable of, I know that Lukas Podolski can score goals. I know that Mikel Arteta does not give the ball away easily and I remember that Mertesacker surprised me at just how good he was at the Eastlands.
I've already spoken enough about the frustration of Wengerball at how painful it can be to watch an Arsene Wenger team that is turned off. So this is not a let us not worry, everything is fine article. Perhaps this is more of a 'Ahh maybe this is why everything is not so fine' article. At least this is how I see it today. It could change tomorrow, because well, this is what we do isn't it?
I have looked back at our season so far and I have noticed something that I haven't seen in a long time if not ever in my Arsenal supporting life. We are in the middle of November and this current Arsenal team has yet to hit a good run of form. This to me is strange and very unusual. Even last season when we were all over the place in terms of players going and coming we hit a run of form. A run of winning games where the team clicked.
This season we started the season clicking in new pieces into Wengerball that were adapting. Santi Cazorla whizzed from the very beginning. Lukas Podolski was also purring, Oliver Giroud needed to get the screwdriver out and tweak his game. Whoever was playing on the right of our attack kept breaking and part fixing themselves until now.
Many people have said that new players need time to gel, need time to adapt and I think this is still whisked away, often ignored. Hell, I have done the same at times. But I think Oliver Giroud is currently writing that on a big piece of paper and sticking it up in our faces.
We haven't had a collection of players on form at the same time. Cazorla was the best thing to set foot in English football whilst Oliver Giroud was the new (well old new) Chamakh. Today Cazorla is overrated and Giroud is not only a hunk of a man but super goal scoring genius.
In truth we have a group of players who are all trying to get to the same place. The place that Giroud is at currently and not where Thomas Vermaelen is.
I will sprinkle some lightly fried onions, tap some golden BBQ sauce on my virtual hat and munch it once time if this team does not click and go through a winning run at some point. A winning run that we are yet to see from this group yet. I will also eat the sponge version of that virtual hat for pudding if opinions of this squad are not changed again at some point during what is often forgotten as a long season.
While not a good enough reason to blame, I just wonder where this Arsenal team would have been in terms of confidence and results had we not had that international disruption. We were close to clicking, had strung a few results together and played well at West Ham. The disruption of an international week is where I point the finger at the manager, we need to do better from those situations. We cannot expect to play fluently all the time and we need to find ways of winning games when our fluency has gone.
It looks to me that the team currently think they are a bit sheeeet and after performances at Norwich, Shalke at home and the Fulham defensive shambles they would be correct to think that. A team playing with no confidence is a rubbish team no matter how good they are individually. A team playing with a high level of confidence can go to Manchester City and outplay the champions on their own pitch.
While I can understand the finger pointing and collective chuckling at Arsene Wenger suggesting that his group can still win the league, he knows more than most of us that his players need to play for something, need to think they are good enough. He needs to restore belief into his players otherwise it will be a longer season than it has proved so far.
I feel like I need to add this next part because if I don't eggs and tomatoes will be thrown my way.
Disclaimer: This is not to say that Arsene isn't at fault for anything, he is as culpable as anyone. This isn't to say that we have problems that need addressing we do and this is not to defend anybody in particular.
So you can continue waving those sticks ready to beat someone. I know how we love a good old stick beating and I wouldn't want to stop you from doing that, I am only trying to understand this random Arsenal side which turn up with a different face each week.
I had many emotions during the Fulham game like we all did. It is easy to write down the full time emotion rather than any high you may have felt during any part of the game. Maybe it makes people feel a little silly when the end result or performance finished so negatively. Well here is one of my emotions before we scored our second goal of the game I think.
'We looked much sharper on the ball and are pressing off the ball. The movement of the players is good and we look hungry, Where has this Arsenal been over the last few weeks'
Or words to that effect. I would rather than type of display than the awful showing at Norwich.
There were positives from the Fulham game that are difficult to find now. The negatives were head scratchingly bad though. Why the team decided to stop fighting to win the ball back when they needed it most is beyond me. Why Ruiz was allowed so much bloody space to use the ball and why our defensive shape was all over the shop were just a few of many bang your fist on the table moments so put those eggs back in their boxes please.
But if you'll allow me to point out something that pleased me for just a second, if I may. I have bemoaned the broken Wengerball and cast envious glances at those teams who can play badly yet score from percentage football mixed in with passing football. Well did Oliver Giroud give us a glimpse of that on Saturday or what?
His timed run off his man and his powerful header saw us score from yet another corner kick? W to the F! Theo Walcott is all doing a David Beckham on us from corner kicks and Giroud is a modern day Alan Smith. In fact I read a comment comparing Giroud to a van Persie, Drogba mix and I like that. If he continues to improve and fulfil his potential then that could be a good thing for the evolution of Wengerball. His second half run and shot as well as his attempted lob at Stoke show that he is not just a big lumpy guy who can win headers but a good footballer also.
Lukas Podolski at long bloody last found himself in a goal scoring situation and guess what? He scored. Theo Walcott is finally putting his game together just like Flamini, Adebayor and van Persie before him... oh!
And this is where it gets all messy again. But hey, I will let you do that bit, I am trying to remain positive now. Carl Jenkinson has shown that the unthinkable is possible. You know that very tricky task of playing a league season and agreeing a contract at the same time.
Carl, I love you mate. 5 year contract, good lad. *big hugs*
Before I go, I would just like to wrap this whole load of waffle up. A summary of sorts. We are currently rubbish, but we have rubbish players who are in fact good/very good players who haven't been good together yet. We will have a run where everyone thinks we are the best thing since slice bread. Theo will finally be world class then leave and we will bring in a player who needs time to adjust. who will be deemed as crap until he gets good....... *echo and fade*