Well I will say from the outset, that for me it is the latter, despite coming from 2 goals down. Once again there were many positives from this game, in our attacking department, but that can’t gloss over the bad aspects of our defence.
At the start of this season I would have happily argued that we actually had top draw defenders in our squad, but that what we lacked was the cohesive discipline to make it work as an effective unit. The sort of instinctive understanding that only comes from drilling it into the players on the training ground, so that everyone understands what their role and job is at all times when defending.
After this game, with the defensive frailties shown, which are not isolated incidents this season, I have started to question whether this is the case, or if basically our defenders just aren’t good enough for the level that Arsenal football club require, and should be aspiring to. I didn’t feel that Liverpool had to work very hard for their chances, while I felt they made us work hard for ours.
As I watched this game I remembered a comment regarding our defence from yesterdays post. I looked back through them and realised that it was Rasp that said it, and I feel it summarises my feeling after this game, so I will, (more or less), quote :
“Much as I’d love to sign a top striker I am adamant the problems lie in our defence. If we fail to make top 4 it will be down to goals conceded not failure to score”.
After watching this game and reflecting on it, in conjunction with other games this season, I find it hard to disagree with this assessment.
I couldn’t fault the general effort and urgency with which the team played in this game, which has been an issue recently, that we have all mostly been aware of. In fact I thought we were genuinely excellent in our attacking play for much of the game and should have had many more than 2 goals. Unfortunately to counteract this both of their goals involved a mix of poor positioning of our key defensive players at the required times, and a critical failure to clear our lines when the opportunity was there, in other words putting it into row Z. As a result, in addition to their 2 goals we presented to them, we offered up a few other gift wrapped opportunities to them, and could have seen more than the eventual 2 goals in the against column. This game could have easily gone either way but, for me, we were overall the better team. Our performance with the ball was very good but without the ball, well…….
A quick question to the AA faithful from me would be, “if we had Sol Campbell, (in his prime), and Vincent Kompany, currently as our 2 CD’s, would we have conceded the goals as we did in this game”?.
I have always advocated that a top notch defence gives you a platform to attack more freely through the attacking players. Better defensive players can make you a better attacking outfit. Poorer defensive players, for me, can drag your attacking players back to help bolster the defence and make you less effective in attack. I would surmise that we need serious consideration in this department and lo and behold we have less than 24 hours in which to possibly address this issue. It could be argued that it is more the way we train and defend that is the issue and not the quality of defenders, but could an issue like that really go on for so long at a club of this standing? I will let the AA responses determine whether it is the quality of the defenders, the way we drill them. Or a bit of both.
We have now been the nearly team for many years. I do however, feel that this team is close now, and that it requires only a couple of i’s dotted and t’s crossed to complete it. Onto the player ratings :-
He made a couple of his normal good stops, but was in no man’s land on a couple of occasions and still needs to make better decisions on when to come out and when to stay on his line and let defenders deal with the danger.
Still improving after injury, but I still don’t feel we have the energetic box to box attacking full-back we used to have. Slipped for the comical first goal.
At times his positioning and reading of the game is top notch. Tonight it was not so. We know he lacks pace, but when he is on form he overcomes that, but not tonight. Is it a permanent worry or just temporary? Turned his back for the comical first goal rather than take one in the face and stop it.
Was covering a lot for under-performing team-mates tonight. Not been so good in recent weeks but I still feel he is a top CD and will get back to his best. Failed to clear for the comical first goal.
Looking the top class LFB he was destined to be dependant on injury. Lets hope the injury tonight is very minor.
Wilshere 8.5 and my joint MOTM
He is the real deal. The Arsenal and England teams of the future will be moulded around him. Most of our drive came through him
Decent, but I feel there are certain games he suits more than others, and it probably wasn’t this one. Ramsey, to his credit, is always a trier and will run all day for you, but I felt this game needed a more dominant defensive CM to release Cazorla and Wilshere. Near the end Ramsey looked like his legs had gone.
Not bad in the first half but excellent thereafter. A truly world class performer who plays with a genuine smile on his face,
No goals but he is always a threat and was a constant thorn in their side. On another day he possibly gets a hat-trick.
Walcott 8.5 and my joint MOTM
Some things didn’t come off, but he always seemed to make the keeper work. I thought he was a constant worry for them whether he was attacking from wide to provide for a team-mate, or going for goal himself more through the middle.
Giroud 8.5 and my joint MOTM
Like Walcott a constant thorn in their side although in a different way to Theo. The 2 of them seem to be striking up a very good partnership working off each other.
Santos for Gibbs 6
Not dreadful but not great either. I believe there will be many worried fans checking on the severity of Gibbs injury today, on transfer window closing day of all days.
Written by GoonerB