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When all of Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool contrived to drop two points, a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers seemed as good as any to make up ground in the race for the top. Arsenal duly opened the scoring with less than 10 minutes on the clock, making it what looked at the time an inevitable 3 points.
However Arsenal would not be Arsenal if the fans weren’t put through the wringer time and time again. This time it was through squandering chances when they presented themselves. So what can we take away from what is an excruciating 2 points down the drain?
1. We shouldn’t blame the ref.
Calls for penalties, fouls against us going unpunished, being punished for no infringements it may be that these things affect our game. However the fact remains that as a team looking to be in the top for we shouldn’t be looking for excuses for failing to beat Wolves at home.
The referee was poor and he did let the game get away from him, but Stuart Attwell shouldn’t be scapegoat for what was us not being able to put 2 goals past Hennessy.
As for the red card, I hate to harp on this, but hopefully the day will come when the English football family will realise that you don’t need to break someone’s leg for a tackle to be worthy of a card. Simply that the tackler is in danger of injuring his opponent
2. We need to take chances.
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Consider this. Over the course of the season so far, we have created just 4 more chances than Manchester did. Yet they have scored 13 more goals. We need to improve our chance conversion by a massive 40% to match them.
The simple fact is that we need a bit of sang froid in front of goal, and non was lacking more on this day than Robin van Persie. I am sure that getting those 2 goals to make equal Shearer’s record was playing on his mind. A player who is usually so calm with such an immaculate touch was rushed hasty and had the touch of electrons with the same charge.
The score 1-0 when Gervihno played RVP in the Wolves defender slipped, but in his haste to get that goal Van Persie tried the one-time shot not realising that he had time to compose himself for a better chance.
On the topic of taking chances…
3. What do we call Rosický’s right peg?
At least RVP isn’t afraid to take a shot with his chocolate leg when he has to. Rosický on the other hand absolutely refuses to touch the ball with his left, the guy would rather cross with the outside of his right foot than use his left.
I love Rosický, and I would like nothing more for him to get back to his pre injuries form. Yet I cannot forgive him for passing up a simple scoring chance just because it’s on the wrong foot, that’s just wrong. Take the shot, if you miss fine, but you don’t pass it up for lack of culture.
It’s time we christen that left leg of Rosa… any suggestions?
4. Way too much dependence on crossing.
Time was Arsenal would hardly ever cross the ball, whether it was a last minute desperation or not the ball would go out and the winger would most likely cut in. That lack of crossing was roundly criticized and in some circumstances rightly so.
The problem I find with crossing is that it’s a very low percentage play—23.9% accurate premier league, 22.9% Europe—nearly 4 out of 5 crosses are a waste of possession. Against Wolves we managed to give away possession 19 times by way of the cross.
You as me, we would be better off keeping the ball on those 19 occasions.
5. Fullback vs FULLBACK.
Being shunted into the fullback position from central defence is not a simple ask. It’s hard to be critical of the job done by Djourou, Koscielny, and Vermaelen in a position neither are suited. The fullback position is extremely specialised these days.
You must be extremely fit and efficient, effective both in attack and in defense. A proper fullback provide a numerical advantage in attack and good service from the flanks, but more importantly, they force the opposing wide players deep into their own defensive third. Crucially this is what we are lacking from our fill in fullbacks.
Take a look at that image. Jenkinson operates so much in the oppositions defensive third the game becomes much wider, compare and contrast with Djourou. In the Manchester City Arsenal report Zonal Marking noted that
neither of their[Arsenal] full-backs was comfortable on the ball and capable of stretching the play to provide overlaps. In fact, with both sets of full-backs contributing little to the game in the attacking phase of play, the game was quite narrow overall.
Not only does our game becomes narrow, it becomes a much easier defensive proposition for the opponent. The return of our fullbacks cannot come soon enough.