A shortish post mortem.
We sustained a beating last night at St Mary’s. Given our run of form, and the almost routine despatch of our closest title rivals on Monday it looked a match we could expect at worst a point from. Klopp’s Red and White Army had run the fox to ground on our behalf earlier in the day, and their efforts had provided us another opportunity to take over the lead in the Premier League. Given that in recent weeks we have been playing the best football in England, despite our injury list, scoring goals, defending resolutely from front to back our confidence seemed justified. Arsene sent out the side who had done such an efficient job against Citeh, no underestimation of the Saints in what has been, traditionally, a tricky fixture to win.
As matters turned out the evening proceeded very differently. A heavy defeat, a deserved defeat, a 4-0 scoreline that could have been worse on the night. I have no stunning insights as to the reasons for this. Rather like a number of Arsenal players and the bench by the time the third Saints goal had gone in I had been reduced to a state of head shaking, eye rolling numbness.
Fair play to the Saints. An extraordinary goal from Martina, unstoppable. A player making his PL debut ffs. And three more, all stoppable to varying degrees. But as the evening ended probably a fair record of the distance between the teams I thought.
Bizarrely we really do seem to struggle against teams allegedly “in crisis”. Just four defeats so far this campaign but three against sides that we went into the game as strong favourites. First game of the season against the ‘Ammers we faced a side that had won just one in eight of their last PL games ( in 2014/2015), had changed manager and were being touted as probable relegation fodder. Same at West Brom with the Baggies who had lost five of their previous seven contests. The Saints had one PL point of the previous fifteen. There is a pattern of stumbling, though Gawd knows what underpins it. I saw no lack off of effort last night. I did not see our usual quality of crisp passing and inventive football.Against West Ham, against the Baggies we were a little unlucky and could have got something from the games with a little luck. Last night we really deserved nothing.
I have thus far avoided the mainstream and social media in an effort to sustain a relatively fuzzy warm holiday spirit. I suspect both will be tearing into our central defenders this morning wit carnivorous enthusiasm. It was probably one of Gabriel’s greatest performances, almost career defining ! Multiple names almost certainly are now being touted as imminent arrivals via the approaching window to sort out last night’s defensive errors. What struck me last night was not that our defence was prone to error but how little we created going forward. Had Martina’s effort been the only goal of the night we barely looked at any time likely to get past Stekelenburg. A number of our players contributed too little, for too long. With Giroud locked down by Fonte and Van Dijk until the very last phase of the game, at 3-0 down, there was very little variation in how we tried to attack, to ‘do’ things.
Even on a bleak night one should highlight the good. Both our full backs I thought did well. Brief though his appearance was Iwobi brought a little spark to a grim final few minutes. Beyond those three, for once, I am struggling.
Right, having rummaged through the cadaver, let us raise our eyes to the coming days. The visit of Bournemouth allows us another bite at the cherry ( Sorry) with Citeh and Leicester not in the ring until Tuesday. Unlike the clubs in crisis referred to above the AFCB come to the Emirates on a decent run of form and therefore the hoodoo should not apply. A strong response required. We have the players to invest our optimism in. Destiny holds her hand out toward us again.
Enjoy your Sunday.