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1) Back to back defeats for the Arsenal in a rain soaked Liberty Stadium, what in your opinion went wrong for us?

@FormidableMF20 - It looks like our shortcomings this summer combined with some pretty horrid form from a worrying majority of our players combined with Wenger's unceasing faith in a dire midfield setup has all merged together to form an absolute travesty of a performance. For such a calculated man, I'm amazed that Arsene seems to have forgotten some of the basic principles of success; if it's not broken (4231, Ramsey/Arteta, Özil central) you don't need to fix it. If it is broken (Chambers getting trounced by Montero today) you do fix it.

@pav_afc - We’re simply not gelling as a team. We seem to have reverted back to the Arsenal of old where we have a lot of the ball but do very little with it. In the first half, we created next to nothing despite having the lion’s share of the ball, which, for a team with players like Cazorla, Chamberlain, Welbeck, Sanchez and Ramsey is not acceptable. Add that to our inconsistent defending and you have yourselves a recipe for a defeat. Opposition teams are happy for us to have the ball, knowing that we’ll overcommit and knowing that they can pick us off on the counter, as Swansea did in the lead up to their equaliser.

@The_Wel_Beck_ - It appears that after playing the game right for 60 minutes, we went after the second goal whilst playing a LB at CB and a very inexperienced versatile defender at RB with very little support after we were on the break. Even with the changes that we've been used to over the weeks, it is very heartbreaking to see us defeated in that fashion, I would have taken a 1-0 away win and believed we had played well.

2) If you could replay that game again, what would you have done to prevent the outcome?

@FormidableMF20 - In hindsight, and I supported this decision at the start, dropping Wilshere to the bench was a poor decision (I don't think there was any fitness issue). We lacked directness and drive going forward, and there was a nice hole in Wilshere's position with Shelvey out. I would also have gotten Chambers off about 40 minutes before Wenger did. The lack of proactivity there was devastatingly costly.

@pav_afc - Again, once we take the lead, we seem to be going 'gung-ho’ in our search to kill off games, which, with only Flamini staying back as our DM, is leaving huge gaps in our midfield. If I was to replay the game, I’d have started Wilshere alongside Flamini and told him to stay deep. Additionally, how can it be that an aspirational club such as Arsenal is going into games with a left back in the centre of defence, a centre back at right back and a right back on the bench? I would have started with a defence of Gibbs, Chambers, Mertesacker and Bellerin.

@The_Wel_Beck_ - So difficult to pretend I'm a manager in this situation, this questions open too many boxes I can't tick but can only hope to imagine I can foresee. I feel that there is a great link between the injuries, lack of cohesion, lack of instruction taking and lack of footballing *luck* and refereeing as to why we are in the position that we are.

I would have closed up the defence after we scored (I can't even tell you with who because of the injuries, maybe Bellerin) and it would have been a very unglamorous and ugly Jose Mourinho win (if we'd managed to shut them out after those ugly defensive changes), but perhaps we were going after the second because we (the team and Arsene) knew that they might concede after the last couple of weeks. We were away and we wanted the killer goal and suffered the biggest punishment for wanting it.

Last year, we put on Monreal and Flamini to shut games out and it worked well, today we didn't have that luxury, they are doing a part time job full time and you can see why that puts us in a precarious position in games.

3) What Arsenal players stood out for you and why?

@FormidableMF20 - Ergh, what a question. It was about occasional sparks of excellence today; Chamberlain had some great bursts going forward and Welbeck's Nasri-vs-Barcelona-esque assist was great to see.

@pav_afc - That man Sanchez is a god send. Honestly, where we’d be without him frightens me - the man has it all. Pace, power, desire, determination and a gift to be in the right place at precisely the right time, as we saw for our goal. Welbeck also did OK for me, it’s not all about goals with him - he’s a lot pacier that I gave him credit for and we saw that he has great feet for a tall guy (see the neat 1-2 in the first half). I’d like to pick out Chamberlain too, who has come on leaps and bounds this season - I think working with Sanchez has done wonders for his game.

@The_Wel_Beck_ - Chamberlain, Sanchez and Welbeck

4) Which Arsenal players disappointed and why?

@FormidableMF20 - Flamini, Ramsey, Gibbs, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Diaby, Özil, Andre Santos, Denilson, etc, etc, etc. We should never ever in any context be in a situation where Flamini is a regular starter for us. Completely avoidable and completely inexcusable.

@pav_afc - I’ve defended Aaron Ramsey against so much vitriol the last few years, and I was so happy that he had the season he did last year, but he’s making things complicated for himself. In the lead up to Gibbs conceding the foul for the equaliser, Ramsey lost the ball high up the pitch. He seems to have become obsessed with scoring as many as he did last year, and this lack of discipline is costing us dear. As for Flamini, well the less said about his (lack of) positioning, the better - we can’t hope to challenge for the league with a player as indisciplined as him. Chambers had a poor game, but he’s 19 and he really needed Arsene Wenger to help him out by introducing subs before he did. Monitor had him on absolute toast all game.

@The_Wel_Beck_ - Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini and Monreal as well as Santi Cazorla.

Mertesacker because he's a world class receiver and he just isn't on form, he doesn't need to be a step faster because he is usually a step ahead, it hasn't felt like that of late, I really hope he gets his form back soon, he's made Monreal look a worse make-shift CB than he is.
Chambers because he's young and inexperienced and got left alone by Flamini on the break, Flamini perhaps was trying to do more than he's capable of in the middle of the field as we were going for the second.

Gibbs conceded the free kick 40 yards away from where he could have conceded it, but perhaps that's why it took so long, he didn't think he would go that far, but it cost us in the end.
Santi Cazorla, because he's had the worst form I've seen from such a little special player, his peak is over and I guess we're seeing that in his ability, is it time for him to make way for Chamberlain or Walcott on that wing?

5) The squad on paper looks much stronger than last season, at this stage last season we were top. Why have we fallen since?

@FormidableMF20 - Why oh why oh why oh why did we change anything at all about our setup from last season? 4231, The Ramsey/Özil dynamic and the Arteta-Ramsey partnership drove us to our most convincing title form in forever from September to December in 2013. We should have clung on to those principles for dear life this season whilst making solid additions/replacements.... Which we did... mostly. Coming into this summer, I was thinking, "sign sufficient defensive cover and buy a defensive midfielder and striker and we're good to go". We didn't sign the defensive midfielder and we messed everything up about our system and our dynamic. Best players, best positions, Arsene.

@pav_afc - It’s hard to put my finger on the issue this year. The injuries in key positions haven’t helped and have really exposed our deficiencies. Debuchy is a big loss, as is Koscielny. When you think about the players we have missing, it’s hard to think about where we could be as our first choice XI is, on paper at least, capable of challenging any team in the league. But we can’t blame it all on injuries - had we have covered Vermaelen’s departure in the summer, for instance, had we upgraded on Flamini…had we, had we, had we. Arsene gambled that we would have at least half a season of Koscielny/Mertesacker being injury free and it hasn’t paid off.

@The_Wel_Beck_ - Same reasons as before, injuries, lack of instructions, cohesion is faltering and new signings and post world cup hangovers, it's all falling apart, but it will all fall back together at some point, it always does with Arsenal under Arsene.

6) Where do you think Arsenal will finish this season?

@FormidableMF20 - 4th. Stagnant.

@pav_afc - I still think Arsenal will finish in the top 4. We have the experience and confidence of doing it year after year, which is something Liverpool and this United team don’t. Chelsea will walk the league, unfortunately, and City have too many class players not to come good at some point. That of course means 3rd and 4th are between us, Liverpool and United. I only hope we click before United’s attack does. It’s so frustrating because other teams, Chelsea and Southampton apart, have been woeful and this year was a great chance to put out a statement.

@The_Wel_Beck_ - 3rd, maybe 4th, but never 5th, if we beat Man United home and go on a good run, we might even get 2nd, but my hopefulness is as bad as my despair right now.

7) Any other thoughts?

@FormidableMF20 - Our game against Utd in two weeks time is being underhyped - it's huge. Will say a lot about what we're made of this season. Either we grow a pair and beat them for the first time in nearly 4 years or they finally click as a team and trounce us. The latter scenario has disastrous implications.

@pav_afc - What hurts most is that this was meant to be our year to finally challenge for the title. We had a great springboard in the FA Cup success, which brought so much happiness to so many. Seeing Arsene Wenger lift a trophy again inspired us all and the purchase of Sanchez added to that. However, it’s the same old problems hurting us - a great first XI with very little defensive cover and no strength in midfield. I’ve always defended him, but Arsene Wenger looked as flat and as dejected as I’ve ever seen him in his post match interview. It begs the question as to whether the players are sufficiently motivated by him to achieve their potential. What a waste of a season though.

@The_Wel_Beck_ - The team isn't playing well collectively, we're better than this and I believe that in a few weeks we will see better value for money than we are seeing right now, if not, repeat until February, which is when we usually get our act together after starting so slowly.

The good news is.....

We have Alexis Sanchez we have Ozil, we have Walcott, we have Giroud and Welbeck and so many of our players just dying to get some form, it can't go on forever, it never does, even if Twitter makes it feel like it is.

Thanks to the guys above for the responses after a deflating result. You can follow them on Twitter by simply clicking their names. @FormidableMF20, @pav_afc and  @The_Wel_Beck_

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more