Andy Carroll joins a merry band of Arsenal killers
Arsenal is once again in schizophrenic mode. The season opener against Liverpool ended in a draw followed by three consecutive win before the Gunners took a nose dive with a draw and two losses. They recovered against Birmingham and things looked up as we won against City and then staged a last ditch winning effort against West Ham. But once again we look fragile with this weekend’s loss against Newcastle.
The loss reinforces the most consistent narrative that the Gunners are the most vulnerable of the big clubs to pick off notwithstanding hyperbolic displays against Braga and Man City. At home. As West Brom and Newcastle proved, if you scrap and fight then there is a good chance the Gunners will be undone by a defensive breakdown even if its just the one chance.
Lukasz Fabianski’s new found solidity evaporated in a moment of goalkeeping horror. A stuttering attempt at clearing a free kick resulted in an unchallenged Andy Caroll heading the ball into goal. Why was Marouane Chamakh assigned to mark Newcastle’s big man? Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott were both victimized by the cross bar and Nasri’s rasping shot was superbly saved by Tim Krul.
Those chances glossed over a poor effort- sloppy and sluggish in possession except for a few minutes in the bookends of the second half. Fabregas had a sub par performance misplacing a number of passes. Samir Nasri was inexplicably replaced in the second half and bringing on RVP and Nicklas Bendtner reeked of desperation. We again lack a big time finisher. Chamakh has been decent but Arsenal has not exploited his aerial ability effectively. And Laurent Koscielny is still struggling with the physical demands of the English game – this was his second red card. He is an easy touch in a foot race.
Newcastle with Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, and Chiokh Tiote bossed the midfield with their industry keeping the Gunners from developing any fluency. The rationalization after such losses is “look at Man City”. But today’s dispiriting display also bring up familiar questions of desire which have nothing to do with high priced transfers.
Wenger will have to find ways to win like Sir Alex whose Man Utd side after a series of bitter draws have found ways to win despite their defensive problems and absence of their main attacking weapon. We will have to muster the correct response midweek against the same doughty Wolves side who gave Utd goosebumps yesterday to avoid the sceptre of another Novembers slump.
And why exactly is Chris Hughton’s job security threatened? It’s surreal. A coach leading a club to their first win against Arsenal in five years and to the threshold of the top echelon of the league. Which side other than Chelsea can claim thrashing Aston Villa by a half dozen? Mike Ashley is touched in the head if these rumours are indeed true.