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Written by Mean Lean on Monday, 21 January 2013 11:00


The referee made two decisions that cost us goals. One should have been an Arsenal free kick for a stamp on Coquelin by Ramires. The other saw Martin Atkinson give Chelsea a penalty when Ramires slipped whilst trying to round Szczesny in the Arsenal goal. Usually decisions like those drive me mad and I am sure that would have been my focus today had Arsenal produced the minimum requirements from the first whistle.

In my match preview I wrote about how we may have found the winning formula after a much improved second half display against Swansea in the FA Cup. The gears were increased also in the second half against Manchester City even with ten men.

Confidence plays a big part in football, you don't try passes that you would do if you were in the zone, your finishing many not be as instinctive and I wouldn't be here complaining if that was the case, what I found beyond strange was our lack of closing down in the first half yesterday. I used to always fancy us in big games because we would fight from the off. Sometimes the best Arsenal team's of Wenger's reign would play the lesser teams in second gear but when it came to the heavyweight clashes, commitment was never an issue.

Yesterday the players stood off Chelsea, let them pass the ball unopposed and it was left to Wilshere and Coquelin to put pressure on the ball, everyone else decided that it wasn't really that necessary. Why was that the case when the manager had spoken publicly about the need to be more physical, why was that the case when an obvious increase of closing down turned our performance around against Swansea?

My first thought was that the manager's freedom of expression is to blame but these are not children, most are experienced footballers who must understand what worked in our last two games and what didn't. Why did Theo Walcott, Abou Diaby, Bacary Sagna and many more go onto the pitch thinking they could win without doing the hard work?

I cannot speak for anyone else but what frustrates me is that I know we have a good group of players, a group far better than our points or league position suggests. It is the second half display that makes you want to eat your own arm. Everything that was missing from the first half was on show in the second. Arsenal players snapping into tackles, not allowing Chelsea to lift their heads and play the next pass easily and we went at them from the second half whistle.

The first half could have been different even with our lack of urgency to win the ball back. Giroud was presented with a great chance, on his stronger left side clean through in fact it was very similar to his chance against Coventry where he lifted the ball over the legs of the keeper, instead Giroud blasted wide. If you want to win tough games, you have to take those chances. For their second goal, it was Abou Diaby who dwelt on the ball for too long against Ramires who has been exceptional in pretty much every game he has played against us. I would go as far as to say that had we had Ramires then we would have won that game and that is not just down to the part he played in the goals. His graft and work off the ball is what you want from every player in your side.

Theo Walcott looked our most dangerous player in the second half and you can see that his game is much more rounded nowadays. Jack Wilshere pressed well but couldn't create much but the one player that stood out for me was Francis Coquelin until his injury. He was fantastic all round and you could see a glimpse into the future. Looked composed on the ball, won tackles and even tried to create chances. I hope he is not out for long.

If we were not sprofligate in the second half then we could have snatched a draw or more but Walcott and Giroud fired blanks for the most part. Walcott did manage to pull one back, feeding off a good Cazorla through ball (haven't seen enough of those in recent weeks) and Walcott's finish was typical Walcott. But the damage had been done by that first half display as it was against Manchester City last week.

We have a mountain to climb at the moment but with 15 games to go there are 45 points to play for, if the players want it then they have to prove it and prove it with effort over 90 minutes not just half of that.

Comments (9)

  • Rob  - Super
    "Sprofligate" should definitely be a word.
  • Nicolas
    Great write-up chief. True our argency and commitment is really wanting. The team can't keep on dropping points like that it aint competitive nor entertaining that just sucks.
  • Nicolas
    Great write-up chief. True our urgency and commitment is really wanting. The team can't keep on dropping points like that it aint competitive nor entertaining that just sucks.
  • Mike
    I can see you now know how it feels when a player dives & wins a penalty against u. Cazorla did it against West Brom remember?
  • MeanLean
    Don't worry Mike, weve had more than our fair share against us
  • Gino92  - Abysmal First Half Display Cost Us Another Game!
    First of all, thank you Mean Lean for having the courage and desire to write up something (anything) about the Chelsea match.
    It is becoming increasingly impossible to pinpoint what exactly is wrong (or going on) with this current team that we have. It just seems as if the players don't heed the Manager's words anymore prior to the start of each match over the last few months. The (not so) funny thing is that performances like the one we witnessed in the First Half yesterday don't seem to bother me deeply anymore. In past season, that would have completely ruined my entire day (and sometimes week), but not any longer, simply because this is what I have come to expect from this team, these players that we have. They all seem to be individually very technically talented but can't seem to perform together on the pitch consistently enough.

    Yesterday, we made Chelsea look like Barcelona, zipping passes from right to left, from back to front, in our half of the pitch with no Arsenal player close by to put in a challenge. Many times in the first half, I watched Jack Wilshere very frustrated, with arms extended, screaming at his teammates (especially Abou Diaby) to try and close down the gaps, but to no avail... Nobody wanted to do the dirty work of defending. The midfield was so wide open, it looked like an empty parking lot. I kept wondering where our players were. Only Coquelin and Giroud seemed to slowly answer Wilshere's calls. The rest continued to sleepwalk, most notably Sagna, Gibbs, and Diaby who thought he was playing in the CB position, he was so close to Per and Vermaelen and just strolling around, dallying on the ball for too long and doing absolutely nothing. I don't know what Wenger tells them but he needs to stop nurturing them and get in their faces and even bench them and play our reserve kids if this is what it is going to take to wake up these lazy arses who called themselves professional footballers. The referee cost us 2 goals yesterday, but did not cost us the game. We screwed that up ourselves with a terrible, even criminal first half performance. The transfer window is still opened, we need some fighters like Jack Wilshere (who by the way, must be named Captain for next season and going forward - Vermaelen turned out to be not a very good one at all, in my opinion) to be brought in. Champions League spot is slipping away but yet still within sight. We simply cannot afford any more letdowns and fight like hell to win every single one of the 16 matches we have remaining.

    As crazy as this may sound to some, I still truly believe in this team. The players just need to believe in themselves and in their qualities and abilities, and fight for each other and for the shirt.

    Rant over. Thank you.
  • jd  - goal scorer
    We need a goal scorer. If Giroud had put that chance away initially the game would have been so different and that is the fine margins that dictate between success and mediocrity at the top level. Giroud is a good player and has many positive attributes. He is good in the air and his movement is good but he is definitely not a goal machine like van persie or henry and if you are only going to play one striker in a 4-3-3 then you have to make sure they are a striker who will take the chances and Giroud is more of a target man. Its frustrating that Wenger won't go and buy a striker if he has the money. He keeps going on about the squad being so strong (which it obviously isn't or Arshavin wouldn't have been playing against Chelsea) but if Wenger is so pleased with the squad and major changes aren't required why not spend the money he clains to have on replacing Van Persie which we definitely haven't yet. Villa would be a start because he is clinical but at his age it would only be a couple of seasons before we were back to this same situation so really a player like Cavani would be ideal but I am serously kidding myself now. No matter how much ticket prices are the club are never going to spend Kroenkes holiday fund on a decent player.
  • ManUnited Killa  - The New Tradition goes on
    Garbage garbage Arsenal at it once again.Get rid of the dross (Diaby and co.) and the manager who has so clearly lost his ability to motivate!
    Our performances are just criminal.
  • richie
    Hi ML I've not blogged much lately as I haven't had the inclination, drained in footballing terms is how I would currently describe myself, I haven’t had the energy to fight the good fight (and I suspect you know exactly how I feel).

    Just when it looks like the team has rounded the corner, we turn twice more and we find ourselves back on the same street travelling yet again in the wrong direction.(ground hog day) Flat as a pancake is how I’d describe that first 45, it’s almost as if the team trained to put in only a second half showing. I still think the parts add up to more than the sum total, currently. In other words I’m still miles away from Muk, I think we have a team of good players that are playing well below the level they should. What I still can’t quite put my finger on is exactly why they (our players) are performing in fits and starts. Previously I’d always put it down to the team’s lack of balance, then against the Swans 2nd half (yet again a good second half performance) things came together and we started to click. Straight away Gooners saw the way forward, and when Arsene named an unchanged team and formation I like many others was looking forward to us taking it to the chav’s. Then came “back to the future” part 5 or is it now 6?

    After Arsene motivated :D the team at half time, our boys started to play, the trouble was we were already 2 behind at that stage and the only ingredient we lacked 2nd half was the correct level of urgency., well that and our perpetual lack of finishing. My only current critique is our obvious need for reinforcements. I’d like another centre half and another DM if Arsene is sure Frimpong ain’t the player? I don’t know he’s not? Just as seeing Bartley play against us for the Swans I’m not at all sure he wouldn’t have been the centre half we could’ve done with. I’m not asking for big money buys I’m only suggesting that with a fit Diaby and Arteta early doors we looked solid, remove one through injury and another through fatigue injury (over played) and our replacements look scarce. Le Coq is looking (good) like he could be our second DM who’ll play alongside Miquel, but that still means we need an Arteta sub.

    Next up the club is listing 5 strikers but I think that’s somewhat of a misnomer, Ok Giro, Pod, and Theo I’ll except but Gervinho and AOC? Is Gerv the swerve good enough? Is he a striker or a winger? Is AOC a striker? I can’t help but see him more in the midfield general (Gerard) role. It’s well rumoured Arsene’s looking for a striker so obviously he’s seeing things in the same way. I’m not saying we’ll get all of the 3 players we need this window or that we have to buy them, promotion from within remains an option. However all top clubs need 4 top defenders (centre halves come in pairs). I state the fact once more no team has won the prem without a British CH. All top teams need 4 top strikers, do we have the 4?

    I think Arsene is right not to bow to the knee jerk “spend some F’ing money” brigade. We must continue to buy for the future, and we must strengthen with quality to improve the squad, but there are two or three further qualities that have often been missing. Leadership, Character & Personality; Jack has all three, BFG has organizational skill at the back but not a lot else, and Vermaelen try’s to lead by example, but he’s not enough of a voice. Still it’s not all doom and gloom as some would have us believe, 3 points against the Hammers would certainly make us feel more positive about our situation and a signing or two would boost everybody inside and outside the club. Here’s hoping!
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