Arsenal: We Looked Inept & Wenger Needs To Avoid Total Collapse
That was the sort of match that demands an autopsy rather than footballing analysis. Blunt force trauma to the head and body, lower leg set on fire and somebody’s carved Piers Morgan’s face into the a*** with a butter knife. It’s a knotty one chief, but I think we’ve caught the guy. He’s the one in the red shirt in the corner snickering to himself and doing that f***ing dance.
At Anfield all the planets came into alignment. Liverpool were scintillating and everything they tried came off. That the Skrtel goal was probably offside is irrelevant. Nobody could sensibly argue that it shook Arsenal up so much they immediately forgot how to play football and Liverpool took such heart from it they were all immediately possessed by the wandering spirits of footballing demigods.
The second great trick the devil ever pulled (the first one being that time he cling-filmed Gabriel’s toilet seat) was convincing Arsenal fans that Mikel Arteta was somehow channelling the spirit of Busquets. To have a player in his mould as your sole holding player means he has to be very, very good, rather than borderline immobile. You don’t want your holding player to crumble under the lightest of pressure and pressing. He was the smelliest turd in a fairly pungent midfield and chief offender but Jack Wilshere has also developed a worrying tendency to spend big games running around, giving the ball away and trying to fight people. He was disgraceful versus City and he was disgraceful today. Mesut Ozil was personally responsible for 2 goals by losing the ball in the limpest terms possible and generally spent the match wafting his £40m a*** around without doing anything. Giroud had One Of Them Games he has which happen 50% of the time. It’s hard for a man that large and beautiful to become invisible but it’s to his credit that he manages it so often. A career in espionage awaits.
Mertesacker and Koscielny were pants too – only Oxlade-Chamberlain could really be described as approaching average – but they’ve spent the season playing so well that they’ve got plenty in the bank to absorb the blow that today’s performance will have done to their reputations. If the midfield had held onto the ball more competently or moved faster than moonwalking in getting back they wouldn’t have had half as many opportunities to fail to defend.
So, that’s the list of offenders. What does this mean for the title race? Not, I’d argue, a great deal. The title was always going to be a stretch and it just became slightly more of one. The important thing now is to be on Meltdown Watch, as the allegedly inevitable spectre of humiliating season collapse starts looking through the letterbox and tapping on windows again. All previous defeats this season have been dealt with well, few were followed with the potential for calamity which this run provides. The game against Manchester United could be the most important one of the season for both teams.
Almost as important as that is the second game against Liverpool in the FA cup, a far more attainable trophy. Years of expectation management have drilled me into being suspicious of serious title hopes anyway but the cup remains a far more achievable goal and one worth going as hard as possible at to achieve. I’d have taken a loss today for a win next Sunday if it was offered beforehand, so with the league distant and the Champion’s League all but a write-off I’m leaving it another week before I seriously give in to despair. I think the significant of today’s result lies not in the result and impact on the table but the blow to morale before a brutal run. It’ll be a real test of Wenger’s managerial talents to see if he can pick the team up and cast away the shadow of collapse before it sneaks in and starts tearing things up.