szólj hozzá: Southampton vs Arsenal 1:1 GOALS HIGHLIGHTS
Last year, January turned out to be an ominous slog for an eventual course connection sparked by Robin Van Persie, Theo Walcott, and Alex Song. Today, the Gunners mustered up a feeble and disjointed effort against the Saints but now with two of those three departing, there is an added desperation to find our saviours to finish in the same place. If there is anything consistent about these performances, it is this, they cause fans to put their cardiologists on speed dial. How do you wipe out the humiliation of a half dozen goals spanked in by the same team in the first iteration? Check. Put in an out of shape goalie returning from injury who had trouble holding onto the ball? Check. A back line that has had trouble all season keeping out a flood of late goals? Check. The competition didn’t let up this New Years day to make this a must win? Check. Saints were redeemed because they played yours truly and Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, and all the rest of the CL pack said, ” Yes. Oh! Yes!”
Bacary Sagna had a shocker. He could not hold onto the ball, he couldn’t pass or cross, and he couldn’t tackle. And he was responsible for Soton’s opener in his failed attempt at clearing the ball which fell nicely to Jason Puncheon and there onto Gaston Ramirez. Somewhere Andre Dos Santos is saying, “Hey, what gives. I ain’t so bad.” Arsenal dodged a bullet when Ramirez’s goal was disallowed for a controversial “soft” push on Koscielny. Sagna was not the only one. One saw Mikel Arteta’s name on the sheet but on the pitch there was no one in the space between the back four and Wilshere and Cazorla. The Saints were left to roam that part of the pitch like Attila which is all kinds of mixed metaphor for the scourge of the Roman Empire but you get my drift.
This is not the first time squatters have taken over that part of real estate and it is exactly why a true and tested holding midfielder is needed as badly as someone who can really score goals. Arsenal’s wide men, Ox and Poldi were equally anonymous. Cazorla was imprecise but one feels the blame lies in his idealism expecting everyone in this side to operate on a La Liga preternatural level. There have been times one can see his muted irritation at this dumbing down. And your opponents will be forgiven if they think they paid to see stand up comedy because that’s what happens when Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey come off the bench. The former couldn’t keep vertical and the latter played like his renegotiated £60,000 a week wages was a favour he was doing the club.
The talk of wages brings us roundabout to Theo Walcott. You couldn’t stop talking about him after Newcastle which should have prompted a red flag. One would find it difficult to see a plot lose its shape as completely as Walcott did between striker and winger in less than two days. And there you have it. No closure. Is he a striker? Is he a winger? Is he worth £ 90,000 or more? Should he stay? For every compelling reason to keep him, there is an equally compelling reason to let him go. This might be in context a trifle harsh because it was his free kick that resulted in Guly Do Prado’s own goal after a cartoonish attempt at steering it away. The redeeming quality was that this was the first decent attempt at exploiting Soton’s vulnerability at the back. It was a get out of jail free card. In retrospect, this should have been a loss.
Did I miss something when away for two months because that body language between Steve Bould and Arsene Wenger looked mighty bad. It’s not the animated discourse Wenger used to have with Pat Rice regularly when things weren’t going right. These two behaved like the other had reeking bad body odour. Not even the stench of the abysmal display on the pitch was going to overcome that distaste.
What was obvious to anyone was to let loose from long distance to take advantage of Boruc’s hesitant and groping attempts at collaring the ball. Especially given Arsenal were having a tough go stringing enough passes for a coherent sequence to get behind the defense. Which is strictly a coaching decision. The Saints pressed hard and forced Arsenal into making mistakes but did you notice the curiously static passing? Where were the players making themselves available in triangles to help the one under pressure? I lost count of the times the ball was lost.
All of this could be a condensed footnote if Kieran Gibbs had with space between the near post and Boruc taken his chances at goal with the game winding down but he chose a lower percentage cross that Soton were able to scramble away. When we fail to qualify for the CL, these matches are the ones which will provide the talking points. Our problems might be helped in bringing quality players to crucial positions this January but something tells me that is too simplistic a solution. Consistency, leadership, hunger, street smart, tactics. Have you noticed Wenger on the sideline when he’s not looking pinched or agitated at the referees? He’s not waving players on or gesturing them to regroup. He doesn’t know how to. Because that was moot when Arsenal had the likes of Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams to take charge on the pitch.