I don’t like 5:30pm kick offs on a Saturday, mainly because I don’t like ESPN commentators and pundits but also because I have lost count of the times these games don’t go to plan.
However with a win in the NLD and qualification to the Champions League knock outs we had two wins under our belts and the chance to make that three with a visit to Villa Park I felt more confident than normal for a Saturday evening fixture.
With JohnnieNYCs post ringing in his ears and a glance at Raddy’s pre match Wenger decided to give rotation a go. I have often complained in the past that Arsene doesn’t get rotation, he either rotates all or none, well today he went for four changes from the team that took the field against the Lilylivered cretins from N17. Rested were Vermaelen, Wilshire and Sagna, being replaced by Gibbs, Ramsey and Jenkinson, the injured Theo replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain. If I was going to criticise I would say that was two too many. We had no choice with Theo and playing Gibbs at left back is a no brainer when fit. I wouldn’t have swapped Jack and Bacary but I would have kept Koscielny in the side as Arsene did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and pre match yesterday I wasn’t too worried about Jenkinson. But in my opinion there is an issue when too many new partnerships are on the pitch at once it causes a getting to know you period which affects our play.
A rain soaked pitch is good for us so I was pleased to see it pelting down at Villa Park, for the record Lambert likes his teams to pass so I wouldn’t expect him to be one of the managers who purposely don’t have the sprinklers on the surface pre match. A zippy surface should mean we can play passes at pace. But we don’t seem able to do that anymore.
There really isn’t too much to report in terms of events on the pitch it was all very timid, gilt edges chances were few and far between, it says something about our attacking display that the best chance of the game fell to Koscielny who was on one of his upfield charges after nicking the ball from an unsuspecting attacker. Unfortunately the ball was behind him and he couldn’t get a good contact with his left peg, and it was very much a centre backs shot harmlessly over the bar.
So without much to comment on in the game lets focus on why we failed to breakdown another average PL defence. For me it’s the way we are currently setting up, the start of all our possession is The BFG, you will not find many better passers of the ball at centre back, but he is getting fewer and fewer options every time he receives the ball, Arteta used to be his outlet but he at the moment seems unable to show for every ball, when he does show he in turn has very few options close, Cazorla, Ox and Pod yesterday were too far up the pitch when we had the ball at the back. When the ball did get to them we had no space or pace as we are not passing and moving. We are missing runners from deep. We try and pass the ball round the defenders, and put in crosses, but we are just not good enough to make this work.
In my opinion when we have possession at the back the midfield and wide players need to start 10 yards deeper. This then means when we move forward we have to pass and move at pace which can only be good for us, and should mean we have players breaking through defensive lines.
Right anything else to say about the match…..two good stops by Szczesny, and our crossing and shooting were pretty woeful.
Szczesny 8 – one top drawer save, good control of area and another couple of solid stops
Jenkinson 7 – good physical display, some timely challenges, didn’t support attack as well as he can do
Gibbs 7 – good to have the future England left back back
Koscielny 7 – assured performance
BFG 7 – what we have come to expect.
Arteta 6 – not in the game, is there a curse on the armband?
Cazorla 6 – didn’t do enough.
Ramsey 7 – he gets a lot of stick but he never stops showing and he sees a lot of ball because he makes himself available. Never ever hides, and plays wherever he is asked to.
Podolski 5 – very poor from the Pod, touch let him down in the first half.
Ox 5 – didn’t make his mark on the game, must hold wide if this is where he is being asked to play.
Giroud 7.5 MotM – he was the only one consistently playing one touch passes encouraging midfielders to run past him with clever touches, and lay offs. Made bad passes look good. Got no meaningful service but never stopped showing.
Gervinho – 6 ran it out of play more than in to danger areas
Arshavin – 6 did nothing
Coquelin (too little time to score)
Written by GoonerInExile