But onto the game itself it was quite strange knowing the team before the kick off, no glances at the phone to catch team news. We started quickly but were also given plenty of time to move the ball. Galatasaray's high defensive line was fun for us and suicide for them. It was relatively simple to pass through them, especially in wide positions. That was how the first goal came about. Ramsey slipping the ball in between Galatasaray players for Podolski running in from a tightish angle to lash the ball into the near post and into the roof of the net. I think lash is the perfect word for that Podolski strike. It's not the first time he has done that. He lashed one past Manuel Neuer a few seasons back at the Emirates. He has hit both the post and
It felt like we were trying to breeze through the game playing our way in second gear and it did not work in any area of the pitch. Either that we were trying to or just could not muster much more. We are now in December and chunks of our squad have missed large portions of the season. Debuchy, Koscielny, Arteta, Özil, Walcott and Giroud are all first or second (at the most) choice players and they have all been absent for significant parts of the season so far, whilst the likes of Rosicky, Campbell and Podolski do not figure in the managers plans very much these days for different reasons.
We have had to get used to Arsenal football without the former Montpellier striker due to an unfortunate injury that was picked up at Goodison Park early this season. That is as good a place to start as any. I for one, was very excited at the prospect of seeing Alexis Sanchez start at centre forward with the Frenchman relegated to the bench. On paper we had a player who was strong at everything that Giroud was weak at. Fast, mobile, able to create chances out of nothing. Yet our attack simply did not function at all. Until half time when Arsène uncharacteristically made a switch at half time removing star signing Alexis in place of Giroud
Oxlade-Chamberlain who came on in the second half had a great chance to score a late second goal and he was furious that he didn't get the chance. As Ben Foster came up for a late corner the ball broke to Aaron Ramsey deep inside his own half, to his right Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was lurking calling for a side footed pass that would have sent him through on goal against one defender and an empty net. Instead of the pass Ramsey tried a left footed shot from his own half. The ball did not get as far as the goal, in frustration Ox fouled the defender in frustration before giving a mouthful to Ramsey. Clearly the lack of goals is still bothering Aaron but I thought his overall game was much better. His defensive work is better and he is timing his
What was reassuring to see was our response to that goal. We suddenly became streetwise and sensible in our defending. Pressing at the right time and dropping off when required. Remember this is the same defenders that had conceded poor goals at Swansea only a few weeks ago. I am still convinced that it was the team defensive plan that was the issue and not the individuals in the team. Hopefully we are now heading in the right direction, maybe some painful experiences have lead to this but if we can improve at both ends of the pitch then it can only be a good thing
We had the chances, we had a lot of shots in and around the penalty area but everything we attempted was poor. Welbeck, Ramsey, Alexis either shooting at de Gea from close range or dribbling shots into the grateful arms of the Spanish keeper. It reminded me of some of the Arsenal teams of old. Cesc, Nasri and Rosicky. Wonderful technical players who when found themselves in scoring positions found the keeper rather than the corners of the goal. Maybe I am being hard on those times because I focus on Arsenal far more than other teams but I can't shake the feeling that we often battered teams for 90 minutes always playing against keepers who are having 'one of those days'
Unless we have a team of goldfish, I wonder what the players feel about being caught out twice in the same manner in a matter of days. At a goal up I'd imagine that keeping our shape, making us hard to break down and then using the pace we had in Alexis, Chamberlain and Welbeck. That's even before Theo Walcott comes onto the pitch. Why are we risking being caught after we have fought so hard to get ahead in the first place? Arsène Wenger said in his recent interview that he would have been slaughtered for sitting off at 3-0 and getting punished and yes he has a point but surely it is more difficult to concede when you attempt to protect a lead rather than invite the opposition who are desperately looking for a goal, to exploit huge spaces that you have charitably left behind.
- Burnley (h) Flamteta hand keys to fullbacks & Team dilemmas moving forward
- Sunderland (a) - Alexis takes centre stage and opens door for Walcott return
- Anderlecht (a) - Individualistic Arsenal struggling to find Wengerball
- Hull City (h) - Race over before it's begun
- Galatasaray (h) - Magical Cazorla sparks Gunners attack into life
- Tottenham (h) - Ox grabs equaliser but offensive teething problems remain
- Aston Villa (a) Floodgates opened and closed in four minutes spell