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During Arsene's press conference yesterday, a journalist asked the manager whether or not his team were starting games as he would like and without hesitation Arsène said that we were not coming out of the blocks quick enough. He gave his usual response of the players being nervous at the start. It's difficult to know if that is simply his automatic response to those types of questions or if nerves are really playing a part. 

One thing I have noticed for a number of weeks is our lack of intensity when the opposition have the ball. Most of the games in which we have been at our best has come when we fight to win the ball back quickly. Losing Francis Coquelin, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck before them to injury has meant the players who are naturally proactive when it comes to regaining possession have been few and far between. 

Our lack of aggression was evident in the first half against Southampton last Tuesday so the visitors were able to weather an early Arsenal storm, put their feet under the table and feel perfectly at home, defending in numbers and catching Arsenal on the break.

I thought Alexis and Joel Campbell were wasteful early on in possession so moves continued to break down. Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini do not feel like much of a partnership at the moment, instead looking like two players separately playing in midfield.

When you have one player who tends to back off towards his centre backs whilst the other wants to play in the opposition penalty box it creates huge empty spaces for the opposition to run into.

Situations like above were not rare and have not been so for a number of weeks now. Not only is it an issue for counter attacks like the above and Per's red card recently against Chelsea but it means we cannot build up our game as we could when we had Cazorla alongside Coquelin. 

So chances early on were hard to come by but when they did, we really should have scored. The Özil movement off the shoulder, Alexis' long pass and Özil's control was all a thing of beauty, unfortunately the finish was nowhere close to matching what came before it.

Özil should have also scored after Giroud's header, the save from Forster was instinctive but Mesut was so close to him, he should have given him no chance. Hindsight is a wonderful thing (is it really?) but a good old fashioned thump from there may have brought about another result. Perhaps I am being unfair or wise after the event but it felt and still feels like a bad miss.

In the second half we showed far more purpose, had we started the game in the same manner maybe we would have all three points. The chances we missed were painful to watch on second viewing. 

Our lack of goals this season has to be a worry for the manager. Manchester City, Leicester City and Tottenham have found the net more times than we have. Only Oliver Giroud has been consistent in finding the back of the net this season.

Koscielny really should have scored with a header, so too Walcott on the far side of the penalty area. He chose the side foot into the near side when his trademark drill across the keeper seemed the better option.

The game finished with Arsenal having 17 shots, 67% of the ball with Forster making 12 saves. We should have won, won by more than one goal too.

On second viewing I thought we played better than when I originally watched the game, on another day the result would surely have been different. But no matter how you slice it, 3 points from 12 is not what you expect from a team going for the title, especially with so many tough away grounds on the to visit list.

After a few days of reflection and depression, I find myself expecting (or hoping?) that we have another gear to click into that we haven't seen since October. Alexis has just come back, Coquelin needs match fitness, having those two players at the right level will give this entire team a massive lift, especially if Alexis can start scoring again quickly.

As I mentioned at the start of this, I would like to see us fight to win games a little more. Force the opposition into mistakes and catch them out of position. Having had to play a number of games over the Christmas period with a lot of players out may be a good reason as to why we haven't seen that much of that part of our game in recent times, but I'm convinced we will need to see it again if we are to fight against the odds and pick up wins in difficult grounds.

Let's start on Sunday against Bournemouth.

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AV Post Match Podcast - EP72: Southampton (h) - It Was A Flamini Too Far

  • 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