November 22, 2014

Handbags And Ginger Beards

By Michael Clements

Well, shit. 

Strangely enough, after losing to Swansea a couple of weeks ago I looked forward to the Manchester United fixture with optimism. A depleted squad (even more raggedy after the international break) made this our best chance of beating the Mancs in years. Leave it up to the Gunners to find a way to lose.

We haven't dominated Manchester United like we did Saturday in a long, long time, and it was very entertaining to watch. We played with confidence, freedom and everything you could have asked for coming off a disappointing loss in our last appearance. Except for our finishing. Granted, De Gae put in arguably a Man of the Match performance, turning away numerous Arsenal efforts, but in reality it was our poor finishing and constant waste of chances that lost us this one.

We could go on and on talking about how lost Monreal looks at center back. We could fault our defensive flaws on the United counter attack on the second goal, but if we would have converted half the chances we had then we wouldn't have to worry about much else. It was shocking how we controlled the match at their end of the pitch, yet somehow couldn't put the finishing touch on. Giroud's goal was sublime, but even with 9 minutes of added time we couldn't mount a sufficient comeback.

Sanchez was a beast, yet again, but it was Chamberlain who impressed the most on the day. This run of games he's been getting has been fantastic for his form and will hopefully go a long way to making him a standard in this Arsenal line-up. He's creative, constantly alert and willing to take people on with the ball at his feet. A couple of us commented on how much he looked like Sanchez against United. Two Sanchez-type players on the field at once? How can you lose? Just ask Arsenal.

The #WengerOut signs at the start of the match seemed a little premature, but once the final whistle came you began to understand why people were beginning to lose patience. I don't want Wenger out, nor do I think he had much to do with our loss Saturday. He put the best possible team out there against United and, defense aside, it looked pretty good on paper - a lineup you would expect to take the 3 points against such a make-shift Man U team. The players looked motivated, confident and up for it, so you can't blame the boss there either. It all comes down to depth and who we had available. 

While most Gooners knew we had to sign a striker in the summer transfer window, it was also common opinion that we needed to add a defender to our squad, especially after the departure of Vermaelen to Barca. This is where Wenger is going to feel the heat - we have two central defenders in our entire first team squad, and right now only one of those CB's is fit to play. At this level, with this many games against world class opposition over the course of 10 months you don't have to be good at Football Manager™ to know that two CB's just isn't going to cut it. Quite what the manager was thinking when September 2nd came I don't know.

We were taking over-under bets on how much Arsenal will have to spend this January to rebuild (rebuild... ha!) this squad. £40+million was the general consensus. Unbelievable when you think about how much time the club had to get this done a few months ago. Especially unbelievable after we saw how quickly the club got their business done early in the summer too. 

The team-cohesion issues, while still evident, seemed to have remedied themselves during the interlull. The team seemed to gel more against United, but there's still some room for improvement there. The big issue is, and always will be (until January, hopefully) that our squad depth just isn't sufficient enough to compete at this level. Sure, we're still better than Sp*rs, but right now that doesn't make me feel much better. 

Our worst start to a season since 1982. I know some would like to see Arsenal drop out of the top four this season, so to perhaps force some sort of change, but I want Arsenal to finish as high up the table as possible this season. Whether it will be out of 'our' top four is anyones guess, and it doesn't look particularly promising, but we are Gooners and we should stick with our beloved Arsenal Football Club (while also complaining, of course).

We welcome Dortmund to the Emirates Wednesday, a fixture which could see us qualify for the group stages if all goes well. While the chances of Wenger getting fired are slim to none, Klopp does pose an attractive option for when Le Boss does hang up his long jacket. But for now, let's kick Klopp's arse.

We're down, and perhaps out of the race for the Premier League title, but there's plenty to play for this season. 

Come On You Gunners!

Also, a massive shout out to the lads and ladies who showed up to support The Arsenal in Detroit on Saturday. Arsenal Detroit was joined by our brothers and sisters from across the river in Canada, and it was truly the only thing that made this loss hurt less. #GoonerFamily