Arsenal Suffer, Title Bid Takes A Dent, Cesc Hurt, …

… and the supporters feel the pain. There is no easy way to talk about the game as Arsenal were shocking at Turf Moor in what was our worst performance in the league so far. If we get outthought, out fought, and completely outplayed by a Burnley team with a midfield consisting of defenders like Bikey and Alexander, there needs to be a serious inquisition and consequences.

Cesc was the star of the initial minutes as he ran and harassed the Burnley defenders and nicked a goal. How easy it looked! Scoring an early goal was probably the worst start we could have had as our players just seem to need a reason to switch off.

Fabregas was the only one putting in an honest shift and picked up a hamstring injury for his efforts. So much for Catalonia! It is a price we have to pay for Wenger’s reluctance to rotate and back up his words of confidence in the squad with affirmative action! The extent of damage to Fabregas and to our title hopes will be known in the coming days, but we really cannot blame anyone bar ourselves for this one.

Burnley won the tactical battle by forcing us to play the ball in the air. They closed down space for our short passes and we were too slow to move it around on the ground. We have been hoofing the ball upfield quite often in the recent games and it’s a dangerous trend. We hardly ever win it in the air and it tends to come back within seconds. This seems to strike panic in our ranks and a vicious cycle begins.

Once again we were clueless in the face of relentless endeavor and tactically naïve to the point of being school boyish. By the end of the game no one really knew what they were trying to do. There was, of course, a lot of shapeless running with players bumping into each other more often than creating spaces and opportunities. More significantly, there wasn’t even a five minute spell of sustained pressure from a team that has pretentions of being champions.

A couple of chips behind the defence and half chances that didn’t work the keeper cannot be given any significance. In the end, we were lucky to come away with a point. Burnley created far more with their limited resources and deserved a win on the balance of play.

I don’t think there is much to say about the team selection. We should have won this game with any starting line up. At the end, given our effort levels, we would have faltered with any starting eleven. Similarly, there is no point in singling out individuals. Pretty much everyone was below par.

Individual Performances (or lack thereof)

Almunia: Looked shaky once again, made a decent save, was at fault for the disallowed goal (once again the officials bail us out!), does not inspire confidence.

Sagna: Wasn’t at his best but didn’t make any major errors either. Had an average game.

Gallas: Did work hard in defence but nothing extraordinary for a center back. Tried to go forward and deserves points for that effort.

Vermaelen: Made a bad error of judgment on the lunge that lead to the penalty. Handled the pressure as he usually does and cannot be faulted for effort.

Silvestre: Burnley got in behind on the left on multiple occasions. I am not sure if it makes sense to criticize the old man as this wasn’t really unexpected. We should have been tactically aware of this possibility and provided extra cover.

Cesc: Was looking great during the time he was on the pitch.

Song: Another Song like performance but lost composure in the last half hour. Wasn’t sure what his role was.

Diaby: Ever heard of a man given a free role in defense? I think Diaby has created quite a niche for himself. Turned up when he felt like and vanished when the mood struck. Should have made runs into the box at least towards the end. Return from injury cannot be an excuse.

Ramsey: Carried on where Cesc left in terms of effort. Does not have the experience or the passing range of the Captain. Difficult to find faults with a youngster when the senior pros do not perform.

Walcott: Was missing for most parts of the game. We haven’t learnt or, rather, have forgotten how to use his strengths to our advantage. With Burnley pressing so high up in our half, one would have thought pace would be our biggest weapon. Did not get behind their defense even once.

Nasri: looked jaded and lost. Can do much better. Didn’t make any runs into the box or the final third as we normally expect from the wide attacking players.

Arshavin: Was his usual self. Didn’t get the end product this time around. He can create moments of magic and at times lose possession in important areas. That is his game and we have to build around it.

Eduardo: Poor decision to send him on the pitch after an hour. He hasn’t played for a while and would have been better off starting or not coming on at all. If he had started he would have had some time to adapt to the pace of the game. Coming on under pressure just made life more difficult for him.

Vela: We weren’t winning but the boss didn’t bring on the young Mexican striker even in the final few minutes. Why didn’t he come in ahead of Eduardo, especially given the fact that he has played a few games recently and is in better touch than the Crozilian? Does it show a lack of confidence in Vela?

I guess you can see this is an article based more on feelings than rational analysis. I will probably look at this one in detail next week when there is no midweek fixture. Right now I am just drawn towards sadness and frustration.


25 Responses to Arsenal Suffer, Title Bid Takes A Dent, Cesc Hurt, …

  1. Desi same same old .We never replaced Henry and have won f**cking all since then .Adebayor We all know he missed sitters yesterday Rvp never fit i always get a feeling with him he is about to get injured Eduardo never fit enough we don’t have 25 goals striker,I think Bendtner will make no major difference as he is above average we have addressed our defensive issues this season(mind you Almunia!) but forwards still stink . We are lucky that Manu Chelsea have been not at their best this season allowing us such hiccups(routine) We need to gamble on Adriano no other option

    • desigunner says:

      I trust that what you have written is out of frustration and anger. We were top scorers a few weeks back and our front line was quite good. Some injuries have been unfortunate, especially RvP. He has really improved his fitness and this injury cannot be his fault.

      Right now we haven’t got someone who is scoring 25 goals a season but that is down more to luck than a lack of ability.

      There is a long way to go and Chelsea will also have life without their stars and United will also see more injuries.

  2. Shillong Gunner says:

    And we’re back to square one…. Damn it… Now, Cesc is also injured….

    Why do bad things happen only to Arsenal????

  3. Diceman says:

    I think Nasri was the only player who was good last night, he tried and tried to make things happen.

    Apart from that it’s fair play to Burnley who gave it all, which raises the question: why didn’t we?

    • desigunner says:

      In a way you are right. I cannot say he didn’t try at all. I guess it was down to a lack of flow in the passing and movement.

      We don’t seem to have the desire. Don’t know why! Been wondering for a while now.

  4. Chelsea are signning ribery they may be unstoppable now

  5. Emmanuel says:

    Arsenal Is Soooo Done For.To Blunt & Honest With The Way We Are Currently Playing Our Chances Of Winning ANY Silverware Is Zero.Thumbs Down Silly Complacent Gunners.

  6. jason says:

    Look, we’ve plenty of excuses – we have injuries, and some starters haven’t played much, also wengers good for an excuse every minute. If we got a goal for every excuse we’d be doin great.

    Some supporters claim that some of our players are just not match fit, that they need more games to get back to their best, I imagine they must need more games cause it sure dont look like they be training much. What they be doin in training anyway?

  7. GOONER 4 LIFE says:

    SHAMBLES I FELT SO SICK WATCHING LAST NIGHT, BAR FABS WHOM I THOUGHT WAS FANTASTIC.

    ARSENE YOU ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS YOUR WEAKEST PLAYER OR PLAYERS OR IN YESTERDAYS GAME WHOLE TEAM OR IS IT MANAGER.

    LOOK I DONT KNOW, BUT YOU DONT BEAT LIVERPOOL BE ON A HIGH THEN GET A EARLY GOAL THEN ALL CLOCK OFF FOR AN EARLY WEEKEND.

    NOT HAPPY!!!!!!!!

  8. Maddy says:

    I really don’t understand why everyone is proclaiming doom and stating unequivocally that this is the end of our title challenge.

    Ok, Be disappointed. I am too. But remember that this is a side that’s been playing continuously for so long because our squad is stretched thin because of our injuries. They are likely to be jaded. Agreed we could’ve and should’ve given more. But again, this is a Burnley side that has beaten United at Turf Moor. They played really well and that is a fact.

    Kushagra’s gone on a trip saying our forwards stink. All of them are injured my friend. Surely you weren’t complaining when we were spanking them in for fun earlier this season. Adriano?? Do you really want another Adebayor? He’s got a worse temperament. And Chelsea has been signing Ribery for 3 years now.

    Things aren’t bad at all. We’re a mere 5 points off the top (taking our game in hand of course. if we don’t beat Bolton at the grove Ill join you in oputting my hands up)

    Cesc i think should be back in 3 weeks. Yes, he’ll miss villa probably, but i still think we got this.

  9. nikogunner says:

    Hurberto Suazo, Chelian, 29 – Can this guy cut it for Gunner. he is in the radar of some premiership taems inluding sunderland and Spurs and a great scoring record. 44 goals in a league!

    http://www.insidefutbol.com/2009/12/17/atletico-madrid-keen-to-sign-humberto-suazo/14487/

  10. nikogunner says:

    Hurberto Suazo, Chelian, 29 – Can this guy cut it for Gunners. He is in the radar of some premiership teams inluding Sunderland and Spurs and a great scoring record. 44 goals in any league is massive!

    http://www.insidefutbol.com/2009/12/17/atletico-madrid-keen-to-sign-humberto-suazo/14487/

  11. Bongo says:

    I missed the match last night and now I’m glad I did. One thing I can say though from not having seen it is Burnley sound like they deserved the win and they’ve taken some big scalps this season so unlike my fellow gooners who had the disappointment of watching the match I’m not all that bothered.
    The team haven’t gelled yet and with the amount of forced rotation from injuries I’m not at all surprized they’re doing so badly and mixing everything up, running into each other etc.
    We are lacking in almost every department, not because of lack of quality players but due to the fact that most of them are still in pre season fitness and the awful lack of team cohesion. 3 left backs injured ffs I mean come on! That’s the position we’re actually best covered for, clichy is great, gibbs is getting great and Traore actualy very good there. Eboué should be put at left back against Hull if Traore isn’t back by then he has a lot more pace and determination than Silvestre and if push comes to shove he’ll take a dive to get himself out of trouble.

    Ramsey is good cover for Cesc, so we should be alright we also have Rosicky who has been dying for an opportunity like this and right now I think we need a new captain anyway for a few games which will either be Arshavin or Almunia. Personally I’d prefer Arshavin he always seems to have some words for other players when attacks break down or even when they’ve scored.
    I’d love to see Vermaelen given the captaincy for a few games, he’s a natural leader and if he can translate some hi agression onto the other players we’d be better off.

  12. gooner ji says:

    Desi, your last paragraph sums it up perfectly.
    I dont think that was our worst performane this season as there were very few clear cut chances for Burnley. I feel Burnley did really well after the first 20 minutes and they deserved the point.
    We were very poor in front of goal and that is hurting us the most, much more than Almunia’s poor performances.

    • desigunner says:

      But isn’t that always the case? When have we conceded too many chances? I thought Burnely were able to keep the ball in the Arsenal half except the last half hour when they just sat back, something that even Chelsea couldn’t do. That made it the worst game of the season in my book.

  13. bobbygee says:

    Hopefully it isn’t too bad. Will they take an MRI? A dumb foul cost Arsenal. Burnley is a tough out at home. Burnley dicated the tempo and terms of the match.
    What do you mean by hoofing the ball up the pitch is bad? For me when Arsenal attacked the Gunners forced the other team to play “D’ and thus created more scoring chances.
    You are right. In american football terms no QB to direct the attack. I think RVP did that. Or in hoops terms a point guard to direct the offense.
    http://bobbygee.wordpress.com/

  14. Cape Gooner says:

    Desi, I read your blog because you normally have sensible things to say. Not so today.

    I will copy below what I have already posted on Untold Arsenal.

    Well I’m not sad, I’m angry. In the first minute Cesc was lining up a shot when Mears put his elbow into Cesc’s back. Penalty and a red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Soon thereafter, after the goal I think, Nasri was through on goal, one to one with the keeper when the defender grabbed his arm and pulled him. He didn’t even get a shot away. Penalty and a red card.

    Why did we get nothing? We even had the Sky commentator saying what a good game Dean was having! We should have been 3 – 0 up and playing against 9 men!

    Now that I have stopped crying, I would like to hear what you think about Theo. He had a poor game last night, but in the hour that he was on the pitch, we had plenty of possibilities. When he went off, it seemed as if we were playing against a bus – one that countered very well. I think that they always had a second player available for when Theo might get the ball, and that made more space for everyone else.

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks CG and I appreciate a difference of opinion.

      The only thing I will say is, we will never get such decisions away from home. Even at home, Arsenal normally don’t get such borderline decisions.

      The only thing that frustrated me was that our quality was obvious in the first few minutes and we could have buried the game in spite of Burnley’s hard work and any refereeing decisions.

      Didn’t you see a noticeable difference in the effort that Cesc put in and that from the others? We failed and have only ourselves to blame.

      Theo certainly adds a different dimension to our game. I am not denying that. But we haven’t used his strengths as well as we had in the past.

  15. Hong_gunner says:

    @Maddy – i say thats a good point. United lost despite looking good. We’ve only dropped points this season when playing bad. And every team is having a blip every now and then. Playing good and loosing – doesnt it remind anyone of the last few season at the Emirates? 5 points off united, with a game in hand, if united are still in the title race, then we certainly are.

  16. Hong_gunner says:

    * point = thing.

  17. Maddy says:

    Heh, Cesc is out for a MAX of 10 days, which means he could still make Villa

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