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Valiant Arsenal Denied Point by Clinical City

by on December 19, 2011


So yeah we lost. However I for one was very impressed with the resilience of the team in trying to get back into the  game (not including Arshavin) and the fight we showed which ultimately could not prevent us leaving the Etihad with something to show for our efforts. Arsene described it post match as “a game we couldn’t afford to lose” in regards to the title race. But even if we had won yesterday I don’t think we could say that we have enough star quality players (with the obvious exception) or the strength in depth going forward needed to win the league.

We went into the match 9 points behind the league leaders and 26 goals behind in goal difference, a vast amount but one which did not reflect our recent form . In fact we had 22 points out of a possible 24 since the game at White Hart Lane, in comparison City only had 19 points. We were the side in form against a team who had bossed the league and hit 49 goals since the start of the season. We were up against it if we wanted to win and unfortunately we couldn’t quite do enough to get a result but going by the performance we produced I do think we’re more than capable of finishing in the top four.

Here’s an interesting stat that was on Sky Sports News ahead of the game:

Man City                                                        Arsenal

£343m     Cost of squad                              £126m

£438m    Spent since Sept ’08                   £92m

£355m     Net spend since Sept ’08          £10m profit

11              £20m signings since Sept ’08  0

1                Trophies since Sept ’08             0

Very interesting to see the contrast in how the two clubs are run, whilst we’ve spent considerably less money on players City only have 1 more trophy than us to show for it, it’s quite amazing that up until February we were challenging for the title and City weren’t  despite the vast sums of money they had spent. If we had won the Carling Cup then we would have an equal amount of trophies since Man City were taken over even though they had spent £346m more in that time frame, quite incredible.

In this next section of this piece I will briefly analyze our squad and whether we might need to invest in players for each area of the pitch:

  • In goal we have Szczesny who in my opinion is the best keeper in the league, however if he were to get injured we have Fabianski, a guy who is a good back up on his day and when he was first choice last season he delivered some very good performances between the sticks. I don’t think we need to strengthen in that area of the pitch.
  • In defence we have three excellent centre halves in Koscielny, Vermaelen and Mertesacker. Djourou is also a decent player and our best form last season came when he and Koscielny played together at centre back. With all our full backs fit we look a strong side at the back so again i think we’re fine in that respect, it’s just typical for us to have a full back injury crisis (i think it was two years ago when we had all our strikers injured and were forced to play Arshavin up front.) It’s quite ironic that the club have just forked out millions of pounds on a new medical centre which has done nothing to stop us losing players to injury, typical.
  • In midfield we are well equipped, our current trio of Song, Arteta and Ramsey are staring to form a great understanding and are all playing very well (even yesterday we had 53% possession against players like Silva and Yaya Toure.) We’ve still got Wilshere to come back and with him in the side we should start to see an increase in the amount of chances we create. If we were to buy a player like Gotze (unlikely, but we can dream) then it would help to share the goals around a bit more. If we were to sign him then I’m not sure what our first choice midfield would be, but don’t get your hopes up Gooners!
  • Up front is where i think we need to invest the most, we are far too Reliant on Robin (get it?) and players like Arshavin and Chamakh are simply not good enough for a club of this stature. My ideal signing would be Lukas Podolski, he would be able to play anywhere across the front three and would be more than capable as a backup for Robin if anything were to ever happen to him . . . Plus i don’t think he would cost any more than £15m, something I’m sure would be music to Arsene’s ears. If we did sign him I would take Gervinho out of the starting line-up, I’ll talk more about the Ivorian later.

Gervinho was signed in the summer for about £12m and was a player who had just finished a championship winning season with the French side Lille, he had banged in 15 league goals with 10 assists also to his name. His Arsenal career started exploded into life as he scored 2 goals against Cologne in his first half of football for the Gunners. I have to say around that time I was excited about how important he could become for us as I hadn’t really seen anything to prove otherwise. However his form since then has been inconsistent, although his adaptation probably wasn’t helped by Joey Barton’s dramatic dive he learnt at his new drama school which he joined in an effort to become more sophisticated and lose his hard man image. But yeah you see my point. Gervinho has 3 goals in the league and 5 assists, however his decision-making in the final third is often erratic when he is in central positions and most assists have come from cut back in wide areas. I’m not saying he’s a bad squad player but I don’t think he is good enough to start every week unless he works on his passing, shooting, decision-making (sound familiar Theo?)

With regards to the game i don’t think we deserved to lose, we had 16 shots on goal and 53% possession which is quite high against a side of the oppositions quality, Mikel Arteta had a blinder and finished with a 92% passing accuracy which considering the fast paced ebb and flow of that match in particular is outstanding. I’m sure Le Boss will take a lot from the way his side played however as he said “we got encouragement but we needed points.” We were unlucky to have a goal from Robin ruled out and a penalty not given after the ball clearly struck Micah Richards on the arm. Hart made a few very good saves to keep us out, although the same could be said about Szczesny in the first half, i think we deserved a point considering the way we played. Hopefully the players won’t be too down about the game.

It’s interesting to compare Sunday’s performance with the game at Old Trafford earlier in the season, the fight and spirit of the players in every game has come a long way since then and I think Robin has found a way to galvanise the players, good signs for the future. Anyway we’ve got Villa Wednesday and hopefully that’ll be three points, although I can see Alex Mcleish’s side parking the bus. Hoping for a 2-0 win. Anyway, enough rambling from me.

Till next Monday Gooners. . .

Follow me @CookieElGooner


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One Comment
  1. Tilly permalink

    Robin Reliant… very good. Nice piece Cookie.

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