Last season we suffered a lot of blows in the first couple of months. We lost our captain to Barcelona, Nasri and Clichy to Manchester City and Wilshere to injury. Our reinforcements before the transfer deadline were Jenkinson, a young player that seemed like someone who should learn football from the basics, and Gervinho, a bloke that got sent off in his very first match against Newcastle and Joey Barton, while in the same match because of the stamping on the aforementioned Barton, Song was handed a three-match suspension.
We lost the home match against Liverpool because Frimpong was sent off and Liverpool took their lead thanks to an own goal scored after Suarez was offside. Then we lost Sagna and Vermaelen, our best defenders, just a day before visit to Old Trafford. I wrote on a certain forum board, when I realized what kind of line-up we will bring on the field, that it is going to be even worse for us than it was when we lost 6-1 with likes of Stepanovs, Luzhny and Grimandi in our team. However, I was optimistic after the thrashing at Old Trafford and I still think it was blessing in a very ugly disguise – it was better that we lost 8-2 than if we lost 1-0.
Why? Because if we lost only 1-0 at Old Trafford, I’m 100 percent positive Wenger would think our squad would be good enough to challenge for the Top Four and we would never have signed Arteta, Mertesacker, Santos, Park and Benayoun. We would have envied Liverpool on their league position at the end of the season.
Before the Norwich match, I wrote that Arsenal must become Les Convincings again and make statements with convincing victories against opponents like Norwich. Wenger said that “in October the moment of truth starts for the team”. If we try to judge it from yesterday’s performance, the truth will turn out to be uglier than Wayne Rooney. We moved slower than a child of a turtle and a snail and we used our ball possession as bad as Ashley Cole used his twitter-account. I was harsh on one player in yesterday’s outburst on the forum – Arteta is another player that didn’t deserve a fine for his attitude (the other one is, of course, Jenkinson).
Every nightmare we had became a reality yesterday. First of all, our fears regarding injuries became true – we lost Oxlade-Chamberlain because of an injury. His schedule was disturbed by the postponed match against Poland and that was probably the reason why Gervinho (he probably gave the worst performance in an Arsenal shirt, just like many players did – Ramsey, Cazorla, Giroud, Podolski) started as a right winger. I don’t know how long we will be without Chambo since “hip injury” sound very, very ugly but he will surely be missed. Second of all, given that we are already missing Walcott due to injury and Gervinho played his previous two matches in the Premiership like spirits of Kaba Diawara and Ali Dia went into him simultaneously, Wenger will have problems to find Mr Proper for the right-wing-position. Thirdly, we underestimated our opponents which means we lack maturity. Fourth, we found out that this team can’t afford to underestimate any opponent which means we lack the winning mentality and quality to prevail even in those occasions. Fifth, our opponents, one of the worst teams in the league, didn’t give a spectacular performance and they still deserved to win with an even bigger margin. Sixth, Andre Santos was to blame for the conceded goal as well as Mannone or Mertesacker – he made Grant Holt onside – and it is obvious he can’t replace Gibbs properly. Seventh, Vermaelen did a John Terry and gave Grant Holt a clear opportunity to score but there is an even bigger problem regarding Belgian – he didn’t motivate his troops yesterday to put their heart on the field and that could mean Arteta should be promoted from vice-captain to captain. Eight, our goalkeeper is not good enough and we lost again because he didn’t do his job properly. Ninth, Giroud was awful, he couldn’t hit the ball mind the net, and I honestly believe even Chamakh would have given a better performance yesterday. If I were Wenger, I would have Fergusoned him with a boot. Tenth, we didn’t have enough aggression in the midfield and that is something we’ve been missing ever since we lost Flamini on the Bosman rule. Eleventh, we are now fifth London club on the table, below the Chavs, Spuds, West Ham and Fulham.
The worst truth of all is that it would take a few more thrashings from our opponents before Wenger and Gazidis decide to splash some cash on an experienced goalkeeper, strong defensive midfielder and an attacker that can score at least 25 goals.
Speaking of which, we are facing one of those attackers on Wednesday but I will write more about Schalke and Huntelaar on Tuesday.