Makeshift Arsenal Crumble.

Arsenal bowed out of the title race with a meek defeat at Forest, whose win secured their own survival. Their goal was a lucky ricochet, but it’s not like we deserved anything, scraping together little more than a few snatched shots.  

I don’t know how you felt, but as spring approached and we powered through those seven wins on the bounce, this fixture looked no less daunting than the other big ones in a season back-loaded with difficult matches.

And so it proved, in a fusty, drab game of football played almost entirely on a sliver of pitch midway into the Forest half. Even in defeat, we’ve had our moments this season. Everton away, remembered as a low-point, we circulated the ball with a breeziness that would surprise you if you watched it back.

Last week, for heaven’s sake, we worked it into interesting positions in the first half but didn’t keep our cool. 

No hint of solace at the City Ground. Not so much as a flash of inspiration. Maybe it’s fitting that we produced, for my money, our worst performance of the season on the day when our title charge crashed and burned. 

We came in with a new, untested lineup, with No. 5 in the Zinchenko role. Fair enough, this is completely new territory for him, but it was a pallid imitation. I hope we don’t repeat it.

Then again a playmaking full-back feeding pass after pass between the lines is a ludicrous notion. Maybe if Zinchenko is unavailable, which isn’t that uncommon, we should rethink things. Or perhaps we should be on the lookout for a similar profile in the summer, if it even exists. 

What didn’t help was that, come the 20th minute, Forest had no reason to venture into our half beyond the occasional furtive counter. 

Their goal was a bit cruel if we’re honest. High up the pitch, Odegaard misplaced a pass pretty drastically, creating an instant overload, similar to the Walcott for Southampton. 

Gibbs-White advanced and played it through to Awoniyi, but Gabriel read it all the way and got his challenge in, only to see it rebound off the striker’s shin and past Ramsdale who had already committed. Bad as we were, that goal was unlucky.  

We spent the rest of the match wading into and floundering in an extremely congested space about ten yards outside their box. When Jesus, Saka or Odegaard did get on the ball their options were limited to the point where you couldn’t really criticise them as individuals for not advancing the attack any further. 

With supply lines throttled, Xhaka, whose game has hinged on receiving the ball far up the pitch, was completely redundant. 

This was a collective capitulation, so it doesn’t feel right to single anyone out. What was noticeable was an absence of dynamism across the pitch. You can partly put it down to absentees, including Nelson with illness, as well as a pervasive jadedness that has infected the team in the last couple of fixtures. Maybe the Newcastle win drained the team’s last reserves of moxy.

Whatever, there’s very little to say about a match with almost no clear-cut openings, in which we went long periods without mustering a shot, dominating the ball with the most sterile, the most barren possession. 

Forest expended a lot of energy to close those gaps, and as they tired, they saw out the second half with a series of “injuries”, each one killing any suggestion of momentum on our part.

In one annoying passage, Jesus was yanked back by a Forest defender and got booked by Taylor for complaining about it. There’s not much else to say. 

I hope, with the title an impossibility, we’ll produce a little more zest against Wolves next weekend. It would be a nice way to bring the curtain down on what we’ll agree has been a positive season, once the smoke of the last few weeks clears. 


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54 comments on “Makeshift Arsenal Crumble.

  1. george can you find my missing comment please


  2. seemingly with juventus losing today they will not be in the CL next season meaning Arsenal will be in pot 2 for the CL draw


  3. just under 11 weeks till the start of the next EPL season, (August 12th) we could be playing in the community shield the week before, for that to happen man city have to win the fa cup

    as things stand our first preseason fixture is due on july 20th v the mls all stars


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