Arsenal Woes Continue
Posted by hiphopmama on November 5, 2008
Making a long couple weeks even longer, Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw with a Fenerbahce team they recently ran through, beating them 5-2 in their last Champions League match-up. The beginning of this most recent slide began with a 4-4 draw against North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, a match they should have won, being up 4-2 in the 88th minute. Some defensive lapses and their inability to just hold the ball and run out the clock – for a measly 5 minutes or so – cost them two points and a lot of pride. In a supposed bounce-back match against lowly Stoke City also produced a pitiful performance, with the Gunners beaten by two long throws by Rory Delap and evincing a significant lack of aerial presence at the back, as well as a lack of fighting spirit in such an important game.
With this as the backdrop, and with significant injuries – to Gallas, Eboue, Walcott, Adebayor – Arsenal lined up to compete for redemption at home at The Emirates. So much for the talk of regaining focus, of the renewed sense of team commitment. They couldn’t even manage a single goal against a notoriously porous Fenerbahce defense. You know, the same one that allowed Arsenal to score 5 goals in the away match of this fixture. They seemed to really miss the attacking play of Walcott and Adebayor, and consequently seemed content to launch long balls over the top of the defense in the hopes of catching them out. Maybe this works with a point man like Drogba or Fernando Torres up top. Aiming for Van Persie all alone on the front line? Not so much. And this from an Arsenal team that prides itself on beautiful build-up play, often failing to pull the trigger in search of that perfect goal.
I don’t know how to respond, nor how they will. It’s not exactly the kind of preparation you want going into a match against Man Utd on Saturday. They lucked out with Tottenham scoring a late goal to defeat Liverpool, keeping the gap between Arsenal and the leaders relatively reasonable, but they can’t count on that kind of luck to continue, especially when they’re failing to make any of their own. During November, in addition to Man Utd they will also face Aston Villa, Man City, and Chelsea, which could end up being better than you might expect. Maybe, after all the humiliation, they will actually psyche themselves up for these big games and get back on track, closing the point gap at the top of the table in the process. Maybe stringing together a good few games – and hopefully getting healthier in the starting XI – will set them up to make a serious run for the title and give the other three a run for their money. Then again, maybe they’ll continue to suck balls and fall out of the race altogether. With Van Persie facing suspension after his idiotic red card in the last League game, the latter seems more likely for now.