Despite a loss against the league leaders we walked off the pitch with our heads help up high. It was as spirited as they come and considering our last trip to Manchester our progress is unquestionable. We have proved that we are capable of competing with the best of them so hopefully we can take away the many positives from yesterday and push on the start another winning streak.
The two teams may now be separated by 12 points in the league but it was only when Djourou went off and the defence was in a state of confusion that City finally got the breakthrough. Though they had chances both before and after, so to did Arsenal and it really could have gone either way. Aside from a couple of moments the defence looked pretty solid and despite what I have read elsewhere I felt Mertesacker had a cracking game. In fact everyone did apart from a shaky five minutes when Koscienly struggled positionally when moving out of position.
To be fair to the lads the response to the goal was great. We made some opportunities and you could see the will on all the players on the pitch. Well of course apart from Arshavin and Chamakh. I understand the need to make changes and the positions these two play makes their introduction understandable but their impact really highlights our problem at the moment.
The team that started had a good game but it didn’t feel like there was much else to look toward if things needed to be freshened up. I personally would have bought on Benayoun but for whatever reason, Arshavin was preferred and his lack of confidence cost us dearly.
I know you are not supposed to cry over spilt milk and all that but I also felt we were denied a clear cut penalty. I know nobody in the media will think it because the sky pundits said it wasn’t but for Richards to see a cross coming and still have the ball hit his hand is inexcusable. If it were hit from a couple of yards away you could understand a reluctance to award anything even though they are sometimes given.
I stressed how this game was not the be all and end all of our season as realistically we were always going to struggle with a title charge at this stage but last nights defeat confirmed that we are for certain out of the title race. This does not mean that we cannot get into the top four though. We have got over half a season in which I think we will win the vast majority of games. We have a slightly easier second half to the season as all the big games are at home but we all know how that has turned out for us in the past. Either way it is clear that we are well within our rights to expect to qualify for the Champions League from this point.
It is completely down to Arsene Wenger and the players now. We cannot blame anything on the poor start to the season as we have closed the gap and there is no real advantage to any of the teams around us except the Scum.
With all the positives; the solid defence, high work rate, organisation and the never say die attitude you would expect the team to build and continue in the same vein for the rest of the season.
However there are also clear lessons from yesterdays performance/result, most obvious to all is the need for another creative/attacking threat. On a day in which Ramsey was more frustrating than effective there were no real options that the manager deemed good enough. We are still in the need of a player who, whilst doesn’t have to replace Ramsey, must provide him competition as it is an area we struggle in at the moment. This could be in the mould of another striker or attacking midfielder but either way we need more options up top than we have right now.
With the January transfer window coming soon you would hope that lessons have been learnt and problems such as lack of depth with be rectified sooner rather than later.
That’ll do for now!