Quick Thoughts On The QPR Defeat

The run had to end sometime and to me the result wasn’t as much a surprise as it might have been to some people. Games at this level are very tight and often decided by minor details. Since this is a late post I don’t want to dwell on too many aspects of the game that would have been difficult to take for many. Here are some points that seem important.

Vermaelen obviously got some flak for his mistakes but this is neither the first nor the last time he’s made those kind of errors. His game is based on attacking the ball and there will be moments when an unfortunate slip or a poor decision – when to go for the ball and when to hold – will expose the goal. Usually he has some support, either from his central defensive partner or a full-back or a midfielder, but in this game Arsenal didn’t have sufficient depth to their defending.

Taarabt and Zamora were 2-v-2 with the central defenders for the first goal. The midfield was too far away. Song was running forward when he should have been reading the danger behind him. Arsenal’s shape was questionable given the ease with which a defender could play a simple pass forward that became an assist.

For the second goal Mackie and Diakite were able to get forward with ease. Gibbs got sucked up the pitch which pulled Vermaelen wide. How on earth did Diakite find himself completely free inside the edge of the box?! Once again the midfield was nowhere to be seen.

The defenders have done well in recent weeks but they will make mistakes under pressure. The winning run wasn’t based on top class collective defending anyway, especially in the away games. There was a bit of luck and some last gasp defending involved, and that can’t last forever.

Arsenal had a lot of the ball, attempting close to 650 passes and completing over 550, but most of the play was very inefficient.

Song made the most passes but I got a feeling he couldn’t quite bring the others into play as well as he wanted to. One also got the impression that he was trying too hard to find the incisive pass when he might have been better off leaving that task to others. Physically the Cameroonian did have a very good game.

Rosicky couldn’t make any sort of a consistent attacking impact. That position is one of Arsenal’s weaknesses at the moment. In such a game the Gunners need someone who can push up to receive the ball in front of the central defenders before making decisive contributions in tight spaces.

Van Persie moved around a lot and his effort cannot be questioned but the team might have done better if he’d stayed central and limited his movement. Arsenal needed bodies in front of QPR’s back four but they rarely got there. It was a weak defensive unit that just wasn’t challenged often enough.  The goal came through that route, albeit from a transition, and Arsenal should have played with two or three attackers up against the back four for longer periods, especially at the start. RvP also missed a great chance to make it 2-1 but it doesn’t always work out. To know more about that watch out for my post on clear-cut chances that will be published on EPL Index in a day or so.

Of course, it’s also important to complement the hosts for their work-rate, discipline, and attacking talents. They forced Arsenal into safer passes and defended the central areas fairly well. It’s the sort of challenge the Gunners must learn to overcome but few teams can do it with such consistency while retaining an attacking edge.

The result means Ramsey’s position on the left will again be questioned. I thought the problem again had more to do with Arsenal’s inability to use the space on the left than the choice of the individual. Song did try to spread some balls to the left, towards Gibbs, but it didn’t quite work out. The Welshman, for his part, struggled with his duels and couldn’t really make a meaningful contribution. Without him Arsenal might not have seen as much of the ball but it’s tough to say whether that would have worked for the betterment or detriment of the side.

Unfortunately, Arsenal didn’t have enough quality on the bench to make a difference.

In a way one could say there wasn’t anything new to discuss from this game. The problems have been there for a while. They won’t go away overnight either. Usually the effort and abilities of the players can conceal them or the opponents don’t show the ability to capitalize on them.  That does set up a tough run-in for Arsenal. Couple of the home games are against big sides and the away fixtures are always challenging. The 5 point gap over Chelsea is not that big as we’ve already seen bigger leads disappear. One just has to hope that Arsenal can fight harder than they did in this game and find greater inspiration when they are in control.

This wasn’t a typical analytical piece and I want to apologize to the regular readers who’ve come to expect that but there are times when analyzing such games in detail two days after the event seems pointless. I would have done it earlier but the whole apartment moving experience was extremely tiring and I couldn’t find the energy to watch and write on Sunday.

Here’s to a lethargy-free run-in for everyone in the Arsenalsphere.


28 Responses to Quick Thoughts On The QPR Defeat

  1. Major Jeneral Deen says:

    hope we dont let ds defeat bcome a crisis ,we culd finish 5th if dt hapuns..

    • santori says:

      We don’t half make it easy for ourselves do we.

      These are the sort of games that United put away.

      Goes to show that whilst we are righful to laud the team for its current impressive run of wins, that we are not quite completely efficient yet nor are we at the standard to compete effectively on 3 fronts.

      Still some work to do and no time to rest on our laurels (whatever they may be) as Arteta so wisely counseled.

  2. Nepali Gunner says:

    Your quick analysis is still much more in depth, thought out and sensible than most other blogs. This post was as good as any I have seen about this game.

  3. santori says:

    No quality on the bench?

    I beg to differ.

    We had Chamberlain and Gervinho available to stretch the game on the left and give better cover to Gibbs.

  4. santori says:

    The issue here is set up.

    We are playing a futsal table formation 3-3-3-1 staggered with Ramsey tucked in and Gibbs slightly forward as a wingback.

    Sagna…………Koscielny…………TV………………………
    ……………..Arteta…………….Song…………………GIbbs
    Walcott……………..Rosicky…………..Ramsey…………
    ………………………….RVP…………………………………..

    This makes us very competitive in the middle as Ramsey adds the extra man and in some ways overloads our currently stronger right side.

    But it also allows the energetic Gibbs more license to play wide and forward which leaves a gap behind which Song and TV must cover. As in the second goal against us, TV was exposed and we were stretched.

    Arsene tried this formation against Everton to great effect as he countered Baines and Peinaar on their left with our strongr right field bias. There was also in effect an element of suprise which once the ever resourceful Moyes took note and implemented changes, negated the surpiseadvantage some what.

    Wenger tried it again in the next game but late on when Chambo came on. In that game, the Villa RB was hardly a threat and the game already in some essence won.

    This tie, it is a case of fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Third time? Well, I am quite sure Sparky had taken notes on it.

    The better question is why Wenger took so long to reconfigure with ample options available in gervinho and Chambo to switch back to a 4-3-3.

    Opportunity miss and one that now brings us back into a very slender lead ahead of the Spurs with us yet to face City next weekend.

    As you mentioned, these games are extremely tight and oftendecided by minute detials. yes the midfield should have done better tracking back, yes Vermaelen was culpable but I wonder if the manager will also have to look hard at his tactics and correct accordingly.

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      bit late but as the manager has said it was a reality check for us. I know people were thinkign we can beat man city chelsea and stoke but as i had felt earlier it is unrealistic to expect 9/9 from thsoe 3 fixtures.
      As much as we want to crucify the ramsey decision, the point is the every team is set up to play a certain way by the manager. Against big teams the tactics play a far more significant role than against teams like QPR.
      I believe if the 11 on the pitch played exactly like arsene set them out to, we should have won. The idea of ramsey for the away games hinges heavily on Song/Arteta/Vermaelen providing defensive cover.
      Yes Gervinho and Chambo provide mroe threat, but one has to say the team selection although surprising to some, the actual players new their roles and they did not perform them well.

      This late in the season the teasm that win away are teams that keep it tight, and we shouldnt be giving 2 goals away.

      Having said that, yes Arsene should have changed it a bit earlier, but we didnt create a lot even when both of them came on. QPR were never under pressure. Worryingly, we werent up for it for the whole game.

      Its not all gloom and doom but the next 3 matches are very crucial and we need 7 points from them to stay in contention amazing.

      4th is still tougher than we think, make no mistake.

  5. santori says:

    On a seperate note, agree that this isn’t the first time that Vermaelen has been a little ‘careless’ at the back.

    Had this been Djourou, the knives would have been out for him but as is, much of the vitriolic that I’ve read seems to be focused on Ramsey.

    • richie says:

      @ santori I’m with you again on this one. Ramsey’s contribution was poor but like you I think its unfair to criticise any player who’s played out of position, and your so right, had it been Djourou poor Johan would’ve been crucified by the fans. Djourou might not be our first choice central defender but if he’s partnered correctly (Defenders come in pairs) he’s more than just ok. He’s not a full back though! Likewise Ramsey is not a play maker, nor obviously after QPR can he play left. He’s a young man returning after a 2 year absence through injury who’s still finding his feet at the top level. He doesn’t have either the expirence or positional discipline to change positions at will. He needs to play in his normal position until he’s really comfortable there before he’s given a chance somewhere else. Ask a sprinter to try out at 400m and then crticise when he doesn’t win?

  6. Michael Gregory says:

    That is why the epl is so competitive.You can’t relax a second.Games against Mc and Chelsea will decide if the gunners can finish third or even fifth.
    The work rate so evident against Spurs must be replicated in all remaining games if the gunners dream of cl is to be realised.The game with MC will show if the gunners have the quality .If not more questions will be asked of the squad.

    • santori says:

      And there shouldn’t be any excuses with regards work rate as we only have 7 matches left.

      The team should be prosecuting the game with great vigor as if their lives depended on it.

      Too comfortable by half.

  7. richie says:

    I was happy to be going in all square after 45mins. I thought we could’ve won it, if Arsene had made changes at the midway point. With the pitch cut up “a la milanese” we couldn’t move the ball fast enough, before QPRs defense was ideally placed. With 2 banks of tightly massed 4’s to play through and a pitch that was both slow and a ploughed we needed to change both personnel and tactic’s. Chamakh should’ve been added midway to play in his favored center forward role & RvP should’ve gone directly into traditional No.10. Arsene should’ve told everyone to chip, lob and long ball everything in Chamakh’s direction. As a Smudger impersonator Chamakh does ok at winning a ball and holding it up so others can join the attack. (Smudger = Alan Smith for the uninitiated)

    • santori says:

      We don’t change things around quickly enough. It’s one of Wenger’s weak points (and Pat’s)

      And we don’t use Chamakh fully enough to his advantages.

      • richie says:

        Thats true enough Chamakh has come in for plenty of stick, very unfairly IMHO, played in his normal position as a CF he’s good, played on the wing he’s not! Its the Ramsey conundrum of Saturday, how can we judge him when he’s played out of position? Same with all the slack Diaby’s caught over the years (slaughtered by many injuries within the squad) when returning from injury himself he was forced to play as a defensive mid, surprise surprise as a box to box attacking mid he wasn’t a great defensive mid.

  8. craszy gunner says:

    Thanks Desi I have read a few blogs …most very angry and blaming our woes on poor ramsey who tbh was just being his same old poor self…the tactics was wrong it did not work against everton were we were lucky and did not work at loftus road either..

    The game did not need any indepth analysis any one who has any knowledge of football can see where we went wrong…I thought your analysis was spot on…
    I hope our coach can see what the rest of us can…

  9. Shiv says:

    The team had lost the plot from the 2nd half of the previous match itself. Sometimes i get the feel that against the lesser teams the players think that they just need to turn up for the 3 points. In such matches le prof should play the squad players who might be hungrier to prove a point. Vanman definitely looks tired. Has he signed a pre contract with another club ? Twal had his usual day off and Bacsag was also strangely quiet going forward.

    • NSgunner says:

      “Twal had his usual day off”…? hmmm – have a vague memory of him scoring a goal or something…he’s had a few of those lately, so why would le prof leave him at home.

      • Shiv says:

        Theo had incredible luck for the rebound to come straight to his feet. Arsenal has been attacking pre dominantly from the right flank since Gurve left for ACN. On sunday both TWal & Bacsag could not create any pressure down the right. I hardly need to repeat what happened on the left. The team just didn’t turn up. Playing the squad players who have a point to prove might have helped.

  10. Adkdukes says:

    The only reason I always look forward to ur post is bcos of ur positive attitude. Many fans have been so hard on the team for the defeat. I bliv the same numbers have been ecstatic about their recent run of good form. As bad as many think Ramsey is, his goals have won us some games this season and am sure Modric has not scored more goals than he has. We all know Vermaelen is world class and this last game won’t be enough to change that. Barca,Madrid,Bayern,city and our table topping
    Man u have all lost to smaller teams and a loss @ home to Blackburn can’t be less worse. We all hope the defeat does not affect the teams subsequent performances. Let’s get behind the team no matter what and hope that we return to our winning ways through the remaining games. We’ve won more difficult games recently based on our remaining fixtures, that I don’t think a win against City ans Chelsea to be too tall a dream. We can all achieve that together by supporting the team, and hope that the needed quality is added come this summer. Follow me @Adkdukes

  11. Tony says:

    First and foremost arsenal in the seven straight wins was not lucky we took our chances and won. On the rangers defeat we faltered. But looking forward i think we are going to shatter any lingering hopes in man city hearts, leave the blues singing the blues, and tots will have to settle for fourth or fifth…(who gives a fig anyway). We want a trophy next season !!!!

  12. nickinportugal says:

    It was a poor performance sadly we have been pretty awful away from home this season and we still have to go to some tight grounds, Stoke anybody? Against teams like QPR you have to go after them hard in the fist 25 minutes, we didn’t. The City game is massive and we need to win given what happens to us away from home where we struggled to beat everybody except Wigan. On Saturday we have a real selection challenge, strangely enough I would pick Ramsay for this one……

  13. gman says:

    I saw this game as a difficult one, but will take the loss as we skinned by on a few other wins in our last run. During that run, lest we forget, we broke a record for coming back from behind to win. Last time I checked we had done that 4 times. Too close for comfort. The tactics for Villa at home, and the Milan game at home were spot on for most of the time in those matches. We went in conservative to a team that has a relegation battle going, and a weak back line. Once in a while starting with our manager, we should go into a game like this, a la stoke, and attack with purpose. Let’s hope we learned a lesson, as we still have stoke away.

  14. Andrew says:

    I think one of the biggest issues offensively is Ramsey playing. As was probably mentioned before, he has little attacking talent, so why play him in an attacking position? He is more like Arteta, keeping the ball and distributing it from center. During the game, he tended to drift to the center, congesting the middle, and denying rosicky not only space in which to operate, but an outlet out wide in which to pass. With a true wide man, such as Gervinho, this would spread the field and leave Rosicky space in which to turn and run/pass AND give another option for him to dump the ball to. It is no coincidence that Arsenal’s attack has been stagnant since Ramsey’s reintroduction to the midfield. While he may yet develop into the player Arsenal needs, right now, he should come in as a sub in the CM position to help retain the ball later in the game, and not definitely not as a creator in chief or an attacking left midfielder.

  15. NSgunner says:

    Desi gunner, you mentioned in your last post that only two teams had won 8 games in a row. So what the Gunners did was quite special to win 7, something they had not done since 2007 I think. Some “fans” seem to forget that and start pointing fingers right away when they lose. They are going to lose some games – fact of life – and most probably because of a variety of factors, not because of one or two players.

    Also, this is a team in the making – not a finished article by any means and RvP himself mentioned that they had to work on consistency, so here we see an example of just what he meant.

    The team has worked so hard to be where they are, from where they were mired last year, and they are not going to progress in a straight line; there are going to be minor blips, plus major ups and downs. Some of the angry reactions and miserable, spiteful comments on various blogs are a lot more depressing than a game lost.
    COYBG

  16. jeff says:

    The fact that the majority of the fans throwing their sticks to ramsey,IMO,is understandable. The fans could forgive n forget vermaelen’s errors because they know it’s just an off-day for him,a world class defender who has been playing very well as a whole. But u can’t say the same for ramsey who ,overall, has been very poor for the whole season. Ramsey contributed almost nothing to either our defensive or offensive play. And the fact that wenger keeps on playing him while there’re other player who are perhaps better, or at least could not do us worse,makes the problem even worse. It’s harsh for ramsey,but he needs to take it n learn from it. It’s not fair for the fans n for those players who’re waiting on the bench.

  17. Gerry Lennon says:

    I tend to agree that this result was not totally out of the blue. Tight pitch, talented opposition who can be good in the right areas, all made for a difficult game.
    The selection of Ramsey has been a bit of a hot topic this week, but in one way I can understand it. In the previous match when Ramsey was played out on the left it did two things; one, he provided a focus for balls to be played left instead of the usual Sagna/Walcott right; secondly, it allowed Gibbs to go forward because Ramsey dropped in behind as defensive cover.
    Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Ramsey did not stick to that script, and after only a few minutes into the game he was drifting into the middle, and even as a right-sided midfielder. This led to Gibbs being exposed as out of position when he went forward Ultimately, that led to Vermaelin being one-on-one with Taarabt and a goal. I have suggested before that a Gibbs/Santos partnership on the left will provide extra defensive cover in away games, if that what AW feels is needed, and at least both will stay on the left.
    I feel sorry for Ramsey at the moment(the expression being ‘done a Denilsen’ springs to mind?), He is trying to impress, but playing out of position is doing his confidence no good at all, or his ability to play to his strengths.
    At least the two matches against Man City and Chelsea SHOULD provide a better opportunity for Arsenal to bring their A-game back?

    • Charlie says:

      YES, Santos on the left wing for away matches. I didn’t realise you’d already suggested it when I wrote my comment.

  18. Liberty says:

    For some reason Arsene seems to be shooting himself in the foot constantly with players that want to whine and be babied. Wenger wants to give Ramsey an opportunity to learn and add an extra dimension to his game, but what does he do, go against the script. But what is worse is that Wenger seems to do things based on feelings instead of what is right. That is why he kept Theo in against Spurs, and a number of other skeptical decisions.

    I watched Manu play Blackburn, and Rooney was tasked with the task of playing as a left sided striker in a 4-3-3 system. He tracked back and was constantly breaking up play down the left and was still able to contribute to their win. That’s what makes champions different from being just good. Ramsey needs to suck it up and contribute to the dynamic of the team. If Rosicky is and him play, Wenger needs to decide who goes where, IMO, Rosicky plays better than Ramsey in both positions, either as an attacking midfielder or as a wide left striker. However, Ramsey is a lot better as an attacking midfielder than as a wide striker and so Rosicky has to move out wide. But Wenger needs to stop being a father figure and be more of a hard man and force these babies to play hard regardless of their positions.

    It happened to Arshavin, Denilson, Bendtner, and a number of other guys. If it happens to Manu, the guys play their hearts out, eg, Valencia as left back, Rooney as a left striker or midfielder, Ryan as a central midfielder, Evans as a defender, Smalling as right back, and the list goes on. Arsenal needs to stop whining!!!

  19. Charlie says:

    I’d like to know why Santos wasn’t played on the left wing. He may not be as good defensively as many full backs but he’s still a better defender than most wingers and used to playing on the left. Why play Ramsey in an unfamiliar position when you have Santos available ? The knives are out for Ramsey but horses for courses, build your squad to suit the tactics that you want to employ and play your players in a manner that makes them effective. We’ve often seen this attitude of play the tactics and force the players into the roles. At the risk of overdoing the horse puns that’s putting the cart before the horse. He changed things around late on in the game but that was like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Ok, i’ll spare you any more.

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