September 16, 2014

Feeling Blue

Dortmund 2 - 0 Arsenal
I think it's fair to say that Arsene Wenger may have a selection headache on his hands after this one. After such a positive, and perhaps even promising performance against reigning Premiership Champions, Manchester City this past weekend, our cracks have been magnified in Germany against Borussia Dortmund.

When the possession stat popped up after 35 minutes, I thought the bloke keeping track had made a mistake; 46% possession to Arsenal? Rather generous I thought. We were out passed, out hustled, out shot and the worst part of it was we got the better of the referee's calls in the first half. To go into halftime at just 1-0 was somewhat of a let-off considering the number of chances the Germans had. 

Then came the second half, and another goal. I think Arsenal managed 1 shot on goal all game, with Dortmund pelting our goal 7 times. Credit to Szczesny for making a couple of good saves, but there are some serious defensive gaps in this team. Gaps that were there before, and are now glaring after not being addressed in the transfer window. You've got to feel a little for young Bellarin, who got thrust into the starting lineup after first Debuchy goes down for a few weeks with an ankle injury suffered against Citeh, then Chambers is reported to have been suffering from tonsillitis and took his seat on the bench. As fast as Hector Bellarin may be, he's got a long way to go until he's ready to play right back for Arsenal in the Champions League.

I think some poo may have come out when Koscielny crashed into the post when trying to defend Dortmund's second goal. If we lose the Kos, then where do we stand? I believe we can still sign players who are currently out of contract/free agents, and I think it's something the boss needs to look at, because there is absolutely no way we can make it another 3 months to the January transfer window before we sign another center back. That is, of course, unless we re-sign Bendtner and throw him back there. I know, I'm a genius. #TheGreatestDefenderThatsEverLived

There were only four more things (only four) that pissed me off about this game. First was how quickly the referee's performance went downhill in the second half. He got the first dive from Dortmund's number 10 spot on early in the first half, but clearly didn't catch on as the lads in yellow continued to dive and trick the match officials until the final whistle. 

The second was how much the Dortmund players fell over with such little (or no) contact, but I already mentioned that. The third was how poorly Klopp was dressed for such a big game. Let's face it, he looked homeless. Surely he's making decent money coaching a team such as Dortmund? If not, then I know Hummels makes enough to at least front him a nice suit. Have some self respect. 

Finally, the thing that may have upset me the most about our trip to Germany was poor Mesut Ozil. On one hand I want to run out there and hug the dude. He just looks like he needs a hug. On the other hand, however, I would love to trot on out onto the field and just shake the shit out of him and tell him to "Wake the fuck up!"

I've heard all the arguments about how his movement off the ball is underrated, and how he slips in and out of the game but always makes a crucial impact when needed. Sorry, but I'm clearly not watching the same Ozil as these people. His effort is agonizingly weak and I can't believe that he's not frustrating his team mates by now. He might be the only player on the field who doesn't chase his own misguided passes down, or doesn't run for balls that aren't perfectly placed. I would agree that confidence plays a big part in his poor performances, but come on.

When we signed Ozil, players and managers commented on how he was a 'sensitive player', and it's starting to really show. Perhaps it's the spot-light? At Real Madrid he was playing in the shadows of Ronaldo, Khedira, Kaka, Alonso, Benzema and Higuain. He was identified as a top talent, but had such amazing talent around him that he was never singled out as the one to carry the team. At Arsenal, life is different for him. He was brought into North London as the saviour that will win Arsenal trophies! The one, single player that will carry Arsenal out of their 9 years of gloom! Granted, we've added some players to help him carry out this massive task, but for the most part he's held a lot of expectation on his shoulders. Perhaps he's just not the sort of player that thrives off such pressure. Maybe he's the sort of player who has been spoiled his whole career and doesn't like to do all the work. 

If there was ever a time for him to step up and provide for Welbeck and company, it's now. If we can't score goals then we're screwed, because it's painfully obvious that we're going to be letting some in this season. I'd like to think that this trip to Germany was just a hiccup on our upward swing to success, but I'm afraid it may be a reality check instead. 

"Aston Villa" and "Tough Test" have never been words I would have thrown together in the past, but with Villa's positive performances so far this season, and our own sub-par performances, this could be a game where we need to dig deep and grind out to get some points. Prove me wrong Arsenal, prove me wrong! (Please) 
Villa Park, here we come...

Come On You Gunners!!