Arsenal are not that good.

Man United

Van Persie

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Ref: Oliver

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Arsenal FC

So we lost against United, again! In the grand  scheme of things it means nothing and yet it means everything. Arsenal are still top of the league, and with the pundits’ main contenders all dropping points then this loss does not mean as much as everyone would want it to be.

However that we lost again at Old Trafford, that United scored 1st again, that it was RvP who scored, that we were too nervous before the big match, it means everything. It shows that we are not yet, we are getting close but we’re nowhere as close as we would like.

Fatigue not an excuse but a fact.

When @raymondverheije noted that Borrussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Spurs, had all lost playing on Wednesday/Saturday or Thursday/Sunday the ill feeling I had about impending result became noticeably worse.

Wednesday’s clash with Dortmund took a lot of effort from both sides, an anyone watching the BVB game on Saturday would see how sluggish they were. Almost a mirror image of Arsenal against United. Simple passes going awry, defenders with heavy legs lunging instead of moving, attackers not making runs, overall little and slow movement.

There are many times in a season where teams play a few games within a very short time frame, so what? Well usually when that happens you depend on your status size/depth to tide you over. However in this case we don’t have the luxury of players to afford rotation.

In addition to fatigue through exertion, there were reports of a bug going around the squad, rendering some completely unable to participate in the game and others soldiering on through the ill. Given these circumstances it’s a wonder that we lost by a single goal. However…

United are not that good

Yes I said it. That United won the league last season is a testament to Alex Ferguson. That is the one thing I’ve admired in the man—his ability to get so much more out of his teams than reasonably expected. Can Moyes pull off the same trick? Maybe that’s why they hired him, but United is no Everton.

Yet they do have 2 of the best forwards in the league, both of whom are able to consistently bail them out, as they duly showed again. Further they had an defensive intensity that we couldn’t match offensively, which ultimately won them the game, however they won’t cant have that intensity to rely on game after game.

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Arsenal are not that good

We are much better than previous seasons, and we can win the league of course. Yet to pretend that we are this all conquering, swashbuckling team able to swat aside all comers is ludicrous. There are arguably 2 teams with a better starting 11 than Arsenal and at least 3 with a better 25.

What we have going for us is familiarity, within the club and with the rigours of a premier league & champions league campaign. All the other legitimate title contenders have their own malaise, all of which we laid bare this weekend.

We can say that we are closer to where we want to be than ever. There are a few pieces missing to complete the jigsaw, and whilst it is entirely possible to win games without those pieces it’s not going to be easy at all.

Özil, Gnabry & Walcott.

One of those missing pieces is width and pace. There’s been a small groundswell of dissatisfaction with Özil, but he is not and will never be a Maradona or Ronaldo players who can win games on their own. He is more of a Dennis Bergkamp; Someone who needs a cast where he can be the director. I have absolutely no doubt that his qualities will come more to the fore when we have players making runs in behind defences.

When Gnabry was subbed he made an immediate impact by simply providing the width and pace we’ve lacked over the last few weeks. The difference was stark. With United defending narrow and Arsenal attack predilection for the centre it is easy to see why it was difficult for us to create good scoring chances.

The hope is that players coming back from injury will rid us of that inherent narrowness and free up space for the creators to create.

Quick hits

  1. Don’t know why we played both Arteta and Flamini, would much have preferred Jack with either of the holders.
  2. I was willing to give Bendtner the benefit of the doubt, but not anymore. Right now I’d take Chuba Akpom or Sanogo over the Dane.
  3. Can’t believe how important Rosický is right now, we missed him big time!
  4. This is one the games all teams expect to drop points. Along with Chelsea, City and Arsenal at home.
  5. I don’t know why Arsène brought up nervousness. Everyone gets pre-match jitters. That he thought it affected the team is worrying, I’m hoping he used the wrong word there.

I’ve rambled on enough. You can have your say in the comments or @wengerball on twitter. Plus tard.



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