I was going to post last night, but I was too full of disappointment and frustration to write anything comprehensible. Now I’ve had a chance to calm down, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not the end of the world. We certainly shouldn’t panic. It’s not as if we’re all doomed.
Yes, it was the worst performance of the season, even with Cesc, Wilshere, Walcott, and Arshavin all starting. Yes, there was a lack of desire and commitment. Yes, we couldn’t pass the ball. Yes, we created hardly any chances after the 2nd minute. Yes, we were beaten by a side that’s 19th in the Championship.
If you’re feeling masochistic you can see the highlights, sorry, lowlights of the game here, thanks to Aunty.
But, dear gooners, every team has a slump in form, and what’s more, we can rescue the situation – for both the FA cup against Leeds and the Carling Cup against Ipswich. In both cases it’s only half-time.
Of course, it’s not ideal, and for both cup competitions we should have already won the ties. In the case of Ipswich, we’d still have the second leg even if we had won 4-1 at Portman Road and the Arsenally bookie coughed up. But if we’d won by that kind of margin, which we certainly could have, the tie would effectively be over. Instead, it’s now an uphill battle.
Some bloggers have concentrated on the poor individual performances, and there were plenty of those, I don’t disagree with that. But I think that we have to look at the games against Leeds and Ipswich as aberrations, mistakes and yes, disappointments, but in the context of our fine form so far this season, it’s a bad patch, nothing more.
Granted, Denilson and Arshavin had shockers – again. For the former, it’s a shame because we need him to push the more regular starters into better form with some competition for places. He failed to do that, and didn’t give the boss any reason to pick him again. He did pass the bal well in patches against Ipswich, but generally speaking he was very disappointing in both games.
As for Arshavin, his form has been poor for a while now. The reation of the fans was predictable, but to my mind self-defeating. It’s unlikely to inspire him to pull his socks up, pull his finger out and generally get his Arsh in gear. I don’t understand supporters paying to watch a game only to boo their own team’s players. But that said, his perceived attitude has shifted from casual with flashes of brilliance, to lazy, and only occasionally bothering to play well.
There is a tendency in all of us to see character faults instead of looking at situational reasons for certain behaviours. In other words, Arsh trotting over to the touchline twice when he sees a substitution being made might not be laziness, but instead caused by the fact that he’s our most substituted player. Which he is. I hope he finds some form, and soon.
Others in the media and blogosphere have concentrated on how AW’s comments after the game, that ‘we lacked a little bit the sharpness’ and that some players are “fatigued” are simply poor excuses, when we could all see that what was missing was desire and commitment, and in place of confidence the team was arrogantly complacent.
I wholeheartedly agree with that. But the point we’ve always got to bear in mind with Le Boss’s press and media appearances, is that he’s not one of those managers who just says what’s in his mind and b*gger the consequences. He’s very careful not to make any comments about players unless they’re positive. That’s why he’s often derided for not seeing bad tackles on opponents. Of course he sees them, he just won’t air our dirty laundry in public. He’s certainly not going to say that we lacked desire or commitment to the press, but you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll say it to the players. Every time he says anything to the press he ensures that he keeps his thoughts on his players private, and doesn’t undermine his relationship with them. And quite right too.
I haven’t been on the happy pills. I was as disappointed as any gooner about Wednesday night, but I’d rather we had a patch of poor form in domestic cup competitions than in the Premier or Champions League. We still have the chance to put it right. Let’s hope the players really do learn the lessons of these domestic cup games, beat Leeds and Ipswich, and start to gain ground on ManUre in the league.