What can you say after such a performance? I don’t remember the last time we looked so impotent. There were only two shots that hit the target and the second of those was in the 38th minute. Effectively, we couldn’t hit the target in the final 52 minutes plus added time in each half!
I thought bulk of the blame falls on Rosicky and Eduardo. Both of them had a very poor game. Even Nasri drifted in too often but at least he can’t be faulted for effort.
Arsenal need incisive movement up front and if that fails all our possession is rendered meaningless. Fabregas and Ramsey worked hard and I thought both of them played well without any support from the front players. The midfield ensured that we had enough possession but we just didn’t get into any scoring positions.
After a woeful first half, I expected Arsene to motivate the team and raise the standard in the second. I don’t know what he said to the players but our performance was much worse in the second. Sunderland grew in confidence and it was no surprise to see them grab the lead with a little luck.
Arsenal didn’t have any cohesion going forward and even after the introduction of Vela and Walcott we didn’t get a single shot on target. There were two half chances for Vermaelen and Arshavin that went wide. There were a couple of balls played across the six yard box but didn’t find any attacking player. It almost seemed like our players didn’t have any desire to change the result.
We also failed tactically. Arshavin should have come on in place of Rosicky. Ramsey was having a good game and had an influence on defence as well. The ten minute period after his departure was when Sunderland dominated the most.
Arsene also left it too late to bring on Walcott and Vela. Eduardo was having a very poor game and he should have been substituted around the hour mark. In the few minutes that he had, Vela showed the difference good movement can make. Both these strikers are not the big and strong variety. They really need to use their intelligence and movement if they have to succeed in this league.
We also failed to get our shape right. All top teams would lay siege on the opposition penalty box if they are a goal down in the last quarter of the game. If United or Chelsea were in that position, you would expect crosses fizzing in, people attacking the ball in the box and chances being created every minute. Arsenal, on the other hand, didn’t get bodies into the box and also failed to sustain any pressure.
Too many players starting today had seen very little action in the league. Bulk of it is down to injuries but it also shows the importance of rotation. Eduardo, Traore, Nasri, Ramsey and Rosicky had only six league starts between them before this game. Arsenal rely on players understanding each others movements. When we have too many changes in the starting line up, especially after an interlull which also interrupts training, we struggle to get our game flowing. Tactical decisions are all the more important in such situations.
On the plus side, Traore and Ramsey put in decent performances and it does give some confidence about the depth of the squad in those areas. The Chelsea game has now become a must win game. Can these players get their focus right!?