Good morning Positives.
The task I have this morning in front of me I have all but forgotten how to get to grips with. How to process a defeat? The requirement has been so rare in 2016 it took me a little while to get to grips with.
I look at why we lost, and as a foundation let me be clear that, on the night, the better team won. Anyone who believes otherwise I admire your one-eyed enthusiasm but there was no luck to the result, no dodgy incident that robbed us. Nor, over 90 minutes was it some sort of abominable display riddled with Arsenal errors or individual player’s incompetence. We were well beaten. Good luck to the Saints, plucky little devils, in their next step on the Wembley road against Klopp. I see this morning the media are wetting themselves over a Manyoo v Liverpool League Cup final – fingers crossed they will be disappointed.
The technical conversation concerning the defeat last night I would refer any reader to the manager and his various post match comments: “lack of urgency….”, “disappointing start”, (Saints) sharper and fitter” “cheap goals”, “mountain to climb”, “could play two hours without scoring a goal.”
Arsene did not feel the players chosen were insufficiently experienced to take on Southampton, who themselves had a few fringe players in the starting line up, at home. He acknowledged that we were better in the second half. Would eight or nine changes to the starting line up have made a difference rather then the full 10? I doubt it. I cannot add much to the manager’s succinct commentary. Disappointment is mutual.
Perhaps I would disagree on the “cheap goals” jibe as the visitors had two chances in the first half, both shots, and scored twice. That suggests a bit more quality than “cheap goals”. Cheap goals, or wonderfully crafted Wengerball gems, you have to hit the target. The contrast between Southampton’s conversion of those two first half chances, and our own profligate waste of the few chances we did manage to carve out in the second half was what killed us
With regard to individual performances I thought Alex Iwobi had a good night. He was the one genuinely creative player in our midfield and he battled away to try and spring the Saints defensive lock. With no Ozil, Sanchez or Santi to work with, what the young Nigerian did achieve was creditable. Fatigue and injury left us with Perez, a central striker back after five weeks injured and with barely any game time all season. He performed as one might expect and brushed away some of the rust that must have built up. I thought Kieran Gibbs, Emi Martinez, Rob Holding and Granit all did well. I attach no criticism to Le Coq. As Elneny was “sick”, and lasted only 10 minutes, that he began the game was obviously an error on someone’s part. Presumably it is difficult to know how you will feel on the pitch unless you try.
Of the other players the more experienced will be disappointed not to have contributed more, the youngsters that they did not show their best on what, for some, may be the last time they will play at the Ems. With loan deals beckoning in January, from which some may never return, it will have been a poignant night
So onward to the “London Stadium” on Saturday early evening. A new venue, and the next page in our season. We shall see if the midweek break has been genuinely beneficial for Ozil and Sanchez. The ‘Appy ‘Ammers had their own night of grief last night. We can step forward smartly, and together.
Enjoy your Thursday.