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What was that?

Posted by on October 24, 2012 | One comment

OK by now you would have thought I had got used to games like the one at Norwich. We go behind to an error and play like we have blindfold’s on or have simply forgotten how to play football. But I haven’t. This team still has the ability to really annoy me big time. Not because of the way they screw up fixtures that should be so much simpler, but because I know they are better than that.

There are plenty of people on the Internet or in pubs who will tell you that X and Y aren’t good enough to play for Arsenal. But that’s the easy answer. We have a team right now that has the potential to be very good indeed. But right now it isn’t. And it does my head in that I can’t figure out why.

Certainly it would help if we had a goalie who was able to either hold onto the ball or at the very least push it away from the path of an attacker. We do have one, he’s just injured at the moment. Not the finished article but not at all bad. And yes, I imagine that whatever goalie you have behind you effects the confidence of the back four. But none of this explains why we were so utterly poor as a team. It doesn’t explain why we played without passion apart from a few notable exceptions and gave their goalie so little to do.

There’s lots of theories about the mentality of Wengers teams, about how their self-belief is so high that it sometimes tips over into complacency. Maybe there’s some truth in that, players have mentioned it in the past when trying to explain the inexplicable. But surely after all the times this has happened someone might have cottoned on. Whatever you might think of Arsène, he’s not stupid and would have in all likelihood noticed.

I imagine that having a large number of players away on international duty during the Interlull isn’t going to have a particularly positive effect, especially when some of them had somewhat dis-heartening results. Not to place blame on one individual but it seems to me that Aaron Ramsey has had a pretty torrid time of it with Wales recently and he didn’t really show up much in the game. In fact I feel a bit sorry for him considering the time he’s had in the last few years following that awful injury. Throwing into the mix the incompetence of his national manager in handling him won’t have helped in any way shape or form.

I know many have derided the depth of the squad and certainly after the Ox’s unfortunate injury shortly after coming on we were left with players who were short of playing time this year. But that happens with squads. You tend to play your best players and the ones who sit on the bench are not your best players. It would certainly have helped if Theo hadn’t been assaulted on international duty and could have come on. But in general getting international quality players to be happy with sitting on the bench is probably as much about expectation of success than what they are paid. Good players want to play and win stuff. If they can’t play as often as they like then they need to know there is a good chance of winning stuff anyway. That expectation no longer exists at Arsenal, at best it’s become a hope.

So maybe it’s the cumulative effect of all this and the fact that Norwich put in a shift in midfield that just amounted to one of those days. Trouble is that the chavs and both manc clubs also had one of those days but clawed themselves back. Whatever it is that makes that possible, we need it. Whatever makes the difference between believing you are a good team and believing that you can’t lose, we need to find it and keep it. I can only hope that we find it tonight and next weekend because we’ve got one heck of a month coming up in November.

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