Good morning + people,
Well the six game winning streak came to an end yesterday evening as we all saw, the defeat more of a breathy whimper on our part than the blood soaked orgy of violence that I have come to expect at the Britannia. As recently as the 13th May we had thumped the same opponents on the same ground, so there you go. Football eh.
This morning I see the experts are out in mainstream media and on social media with 101 theories to explain Arsenal’s oh-so-obvious deficiencies; the players chosen and not chosen, the positions they played in and did not play in, players bought and sold -v- not bought and not sold, the tactics, the strategy, the team psychology, the physiology, the medical team, and don’t imagine you are off the hook for your part in this “debacle” Vic f******* Akers. Oh yes there is nothing like a 0-1 defeat at Stoke to stir the juices of discontent.
I admit I don’t think we played as well as we can. Stoke did not match our football yet when they had one half chance, caused by our defensive hesitation, they scored. Ironically against our usual bête-noire in against the Orcs – the long high ball – we coped almost perfectly all game. When we were firmly in charge of the ball, as we were for long periods before half time and for the final half hour ( when my guess is the possession percentages must have been 90/10 to us) we did not score. We created but no egg hatched. The longer the game went on it seemed to me the less likely it was that we would crack the home sides defence and earn at least what would have been a respectable point.
Of our players I thought Hector and the Ox were excellent in their wing back roles. As we all saw, though Mr Marriner did not, Hector’s bursting run could have been the key we needed to turn the Stoke lock. I thought Granit and Aaron controlled midfield all afternoon and quelled the usually lively Orc toilers, Fletcher and Allen. Alexander Lacazette I thought had his best game for us so far. Yes I know he did not “score” but he ever so nearly did, and no doubt some will say the goal should have stood. Strikers have many facets to their game, of movement, imagination and anticipation, and he demonstrated them throughout the game. On a side note unlike many French players who have joined us over the years Alexander looks very fit and well able to last 90 minutes.
Of our opponents I would have to pick out Jack Butland who looked highly competent. He has a fine future, somewhere and in the meantime will get loads of goalkeeping practice under Mark Hughes.
Where are we then – two games in ? I think in receipt of a sobering slap to wake us up to the realities of League football. Despite our excellent form and Stoke’s poor recent results nothing can be taken for granted. I have no doubt we shall be working hard in training all week on the art of converting overwhelming possession into strikes on goal.
Onwards to Anfield next week and I see a 4pm Sunday kick off which gives us a few days of reflection on yesterday, and on or recent performances, and to identify what we are doing well, and where improvement is required. I do not expect any radical alteration to our set up or our approach to the Liverpool game. I anticipate Kosc will be back on duty which will make us a little steadier at the back but I warn you – it will be goals goals goals !!
Enjoy your Sunday…