We have now lost three in a row at the City of Manchester Stadium. We have also lost three in a row against English opposition and worst of all we have failed to score in three games against premier league teams. Arsene was not pleased and neither is any fan.
This particular game was always going to be tough. We haven’t won at this ground with our first team so it is not realistic to expect the Carling Cup kids to change things around. Personally, I didn’t care much about results in this tournament as long as the kids put up a good show. That was the biggest disappointment of the night.
Eastmond and Merida were completely out of their league, while Wilshere has picked up the first team bug of roamig all over except where he should really be! I don’t know whether the kids were overwhelmed by the opposition or were just not good enough for the level of the game. They have certainly performed better in the past. At least they could have tried harder. Hopefully, this will be a big lesson for all of them and there is no point in being overly critical of any teenager punching above his weight.
Rosicky on the other hand deserves some criticism. This whole season I have felt that the Czech star has not been doing enough on the pitch. He comes along for a stroll and a few good passes and not to put in a focused, hard working, professional shift. He was partly at fault for the first goal. He was also guilty of too many poor touches whilst his movement was more wanderful than wonderful. I guess this is the reason he hasn’t started the last two matches and on this evidence he will struggle to get a regular place in the side. It’s a shame and a concern as he is one of the experienced players in the squad.
Ramsey and Vela worked hard but didn’t get the support they should have. Wenger also tried taking a leaf from Fergie’s book by playing a strong defence to support the kids. Eboue controlled his forward movement a lot and it’s possible that there were clear instructions to the experienced players to provide cover.
Song was played in the central defensive role and I am hoping it was a decision forced by an injury to Senderos. Arsene has caused enough confusion already by randomly changing positions for Nasri, Rosicky and Diaby. He should not make the same mistake with Song. If big Phil is not injured, it would also mean that we have wasted a year of his career and sold ourselves short in a very important position.
Silvestre, Traore and Eboue did alright in my opinion. They made some mistakes but nothing we don’t already expect from them. A typical Silvestre moment came when he lost the flight of the ball and set Greedybayor free. A last man tackle was needed but even the ref didn’t think this tournament was important enough to merit giving red cards.
Overall the ref was as incompetent as usual. But I am happy Song was not sent off for a supposed block on Ireland. I am convinced that was not a foul and the young England hopeful ran into our Cameroonian just as Bellamy and Greedybayor had done before him. But the ref gave it as a foul and once you cry foul it’s very difficult to say it’s not a red card. The decision might have been different in another competition or if the score had been level.
It’s funny, the number of mistakes we keep making for each goal. For the first one, Rosicky was at fault for losing the ball casually and not sprinting back. If he had, he might at least have distracted Tevez. Song too was at fault for going to ground too early and away from the Citeh striker. Silvestre looked comical when he put his hands behind his back and jumped half a foot. He should have at least put his leg out to try and get a block.
Similarly for the second, Silvestre again passed the ball to a man already under pressure from three opponents. Sanchez Watt was also at fault for casually jogging back when he should have been sprinting back to provide an extra man in defence. Finally Silvestre and Traore got too close to each other and couldn’t push SWP wide enough. In itself, each of these is a small mistake that happens all the time. But when you have multiple mistakes within seconds it’s quite likely to result in trouble, especially, when the opposition has enough quality to find the corners of the goal.
The third goal highlighted further defensive frailties that are a hallmark of this squad. How can an opponent just run through two players, who are supposed to stop him, without using any extraordinary skill, movement or pace? Bellamy just ran between Song and Wilshere and both didn’t know how to stop him. It’s pointless to say both were on a yellow card. In fact, all Song had to do was let Bellamy stick to the flank and wait for a chance to tackle instead of allowing him an opening to cut inside.
I guess the reason Arsene is frustrated is because these are the kind of errors one would not expect from top professionals. Unfortunately, we make these too often and I have a feeling our training methods have to be altered to achieve a drastic improvement as far as these mistakes are concerned.
Frankly, in a way, I am happy that his tournament is behind us. I don’t buy the argument that we should have played a full strength team just to get a meaningless trophy at the end of the day. There is no guarantee that we wouldn’t have picked up another bad injury that could affect other important competitions and there is no guarantee that we would have won a trophy by playing some of the other big players. (For the sake of perspective, Chelsea lost with a much more competitive squad against a much smaller team)
Finally, there is the case of the missing hand shake. I, for one, believe that a hand shake at the end of the game is just a sham. I am happy Arsene said, “That has nothing to do with the game. I am free to shake hands with whoever I want to after the game. There is nothing more to say about it.” It would have been more fun if he’d just said, “Bollocks!” People show enough disrespect through their smirks and other gestures. Respect is a real myth in the modern world of football so the only thing missing was a physical action. Case dismissed as frivolous.
PS: Is Hatrick a word or is it Hat-Trick?