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Where to go from the San Siro?

by on February 16, 2012

“And he’s found Bale out wide. The Welshman charging down the wing now. Oh, it’s a slip from Sagna. Bale’s beaten him for pace. Space to cross. Adebayor’s beaten Koscielny at the near post! That’s it! The comeback is complete! 2-1! What a turnaround by Tottenham! Yet again, Tottenham have come back from behind to win the North London Derby! The loss at Milan. The collapse at Sunderland and now a disaster in the North London derby. The last few matches have been horrific for Arsenal.” Is that the commentary we’ll hear in the final stages of the North London derby? Right now, it doesn’t seem impossible.

In recent history, we’ve always been a “nearly team”. Is it because we’re not good footballers? No. Not for a second. I would argue that footballistically we’ve always been one of the best teams in Europe, but footballistically doesn’t win you trophies. The sign of a great player and a great team is not how many times they get knocked down, but how strong they are when they get back up. Arsenal teams  have been wanting their recently and it’s time to put that right. All the usual quotes have been said. Arteta and Vermaelen two of the “we need to bounce back” brigade. The problem is that every single player needs to stand up and be responsible.

In many ways, Arsenal players are lucky. As an Arsenal player, you can put in less effort than is required and be carried through the season by the brilliance of others. To be a good team, that’s alright. To be the best, that’s unacceptable. At The Arsenal, that’s unacceptable.

Yesterday was one of the worst performances  I’ve ever seen from The Arsenal. Whenever judging a team, or a player I always say it’s the effort that counts. If a player is rubbish but they play their heart out, then I would never get on their back, because it’s the manager that chooses to play them. Likewise, if a team loses but there are mitigating circumstances I’m usually quite stoic about it. Last night though, there were no mitigating circumstances. The team didn’t care, it was as simple as that. Maybe they expected to win, maybe they expected Robin Van Persie and Thierry Henry to produce some magic, maybe they just didn’t care.

When the draw was made months ago, I was pretty disgusted. I saw so many Arsenal fans talking about how we were going to go there and smash them, not even thinking about the possibility that this Milan side could pull off a result against us. The team which last season secured the Scudetto with two games left as well as the Supercoppa. Compare that to the Milan tweeps I follow, who paid an awful lot of respect to us. A team which hasn’t won anything since 2005. A team which has continually under-achieved. You have to wonder whether that kind of mind-set filters through to the players, because it certainly seemed to last night.

We can’t change what happened last night, all the team can can do is bounce back. That doesn’t mean a 5-0 win this weekend. That means decent performances [and results] for the next ten games. Not inconsistency, not big wins followed by mediocrity. Just good, consistent performances. This is where the team stands up and proves they’re better than the rest, that they deserve to play for The Arsenal.

I wasn’t planning on being analytical, but I think a bit of analysis wouldn’t go amiss.

Wojciech Szczesny. He’s not perfect. There, I said it. He dives too early for long shots and his kicking hasn’t improved one bit. There’s a reason most people on mainland Europe rate De Gea much more. I’m not saying he’s horrific, he’s still the man for me. His outgoing attitude is great for our team as he provides the commanding presence that neither Almunia nor Fabianski could. His history as a hand-ball player also shows in his competence in one-on-ones.  He’s definitely got the potential to be the number one for years to come, but if he doesn’t carry on improving [which he still should do for a few years] then he could find the likes of Emi Martinez and Reice Charles-Cook are pushing him for his jersey.

Laurent Kosicleny. It’s typical isn’t it? 44 minutes of our first-team defence and he’s off with a knee injury. The results of his scan could change our season. Time to recall Kyle Bartley? As always, I’ll be hopeful. Thomas Vermaelen looked… hesitant yesterday. Thankfully, he’s a popular player so people are tending to overlook it. He’s played mainly at left-back, but he plays there a lot for his country, so that shouldn’t be an excuse. In my opinion, he’s never really looked the same since his injury but here’s hoping that it’s just a blip and that his form picks up.

Rosicky for Oxlade-Chamberlain? I was happy to see the Ox rested. Starting a match of this intensity? After starting every match since the visit of Manchester United? All that will achieve is another Ramsey or Wilshere. The toll of playing too much at a early age is showing on both of them and the last thing Oxlade-Chamberlain needs is fatigue and injuries. Saying that, I’m not sure  Rosicky was the right decision. Has he ever been good out wide?

Finally, Van Persie looks like he’s starting to run out of magic, anyone else think it’s time the midfield started producing more goals? We know these players are capable of it, because we’ve seen goals come from all over the pitch in previous season, I suppose that the quicker style of play this season means that the rest of the team don’t get as many chances.

Now let’s not forget, the tie isn’t over. What better way to forget one of the club’s worst ever European than with one of our best. 6-1 win at the Emirates? Lesser teams would put up a fight, so I’ll assume we will.

Finally, a positive note to end on. No matter how the tie ends, we still got further than the Mancunians. Whatever happens, remind your friends of that. ;) Don’t forget to follow me @SavageGooner on twitter. Until next time.

Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Comes Through Harmony

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One Comment
  1. I thought Wenger would bench ramsey, play Rosicky in the middle then Arsharvin on d left…. Would ve been perfect ds way.

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