Monday, 25 August 2014

Everton 2-2 Arsenal: Late drama masks team's disorganization

Match Report | Match highlights | Wenger's thoughts

The lineup...
Was well, a mirage. I was excited that Chamberlain and Alexis were chosen to start - especially Sanchez up front. My joy of seeing both of them was fuelled by Ozil in the starting XI as well. Perhaps foolishly, I assumed Wenger would play Chamberlain on the left, Wilshere on the right and Ozil in the hole. I would never understand Ozil's gross mispositioning. I believe it was a huge factor in us going 2-0 down.

Martinez must love facing Wenger...
It was well-documented that when Arsenal lost 3-0 to Everton in April, Martinez pulled off some tactical wizardry in playing Lukaku against Monreal and Podolski. The effects were highly fruitful. Two of Everton's three goals came from our left hand side, with the third being an own goal.

Wenger made it even easier this time around. By playing Ozil instead of Podolski he made a worse mistake, if not the same. Martinez promptly repeated the same procedure by playing Lukaku on the right again, and the effects were predictably effective. Both of Everton's goals came from that channel, with Monreal and Ozil culpable. I doubt Wenger has still realized the flaw on the left side of his defence. Maybe we'll see Monreal and Ozil on the left on 28th Feb again.

Insanity is trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Albert Einstein said that.

It wasn't Mesut Ozil's fault...
From what I saw, Ozil did what he could. His passes were somewhat accurate after a shaky start, and he didn't play too shabbily for a person so badly mispositioned it's criminal. It's not his fault Wenger played him on the left - Mesut was always caught in a losing battle.

Substituting Alexis for Giroud was a change as bad as they come. Instead, Wenger should have taken Wilshere off for Olivier, played Sanchez on the wings and played Ozil in Jack's place. It's called playing the right players in their right positions, something Wenger is oblivious to.

Wilshere and co need a wake-up call...
It's amazing how quick the decline of Jack has been. There were some opinions scattered here and there that Wilshere was losing it, back in February. However, now practically all of Arsenal's fanbase has come to realize it. In a make-or-break season, one where he is also going to get limited opportunities, Jack made a right mess of his rare chance. I'd want him at the club, but only as a squad player.

Ramsey was suspect, again. His three-goals-in-four-games has shielded him till now, but unless he's more focused it'll be only a matter of time until he's found out. We need his goals, but we also need his tackling and passing. Yesterday was not the answer.

Chamberlain was a bit scrappy skewing shots wide, but I'd be lying if I wasn't encouraging him to have a crack. He's still rough around the edges. but I'd definitely start him against Besiktas. Aside from Sanchez, right now he's our only player who's capable of sprinting and having a go from distance. God knows we need that now.

Flamini, well. The only thing I can say is that after Saturday if Wenger isn't convinced that we need a new defensive midfielder, it'd take as far as an 8-2 trashing against Besiktas for him to change his mind.

The silver lining...
... was amazingly, Giroud. To me, his performance merely confirmed what I've been saying for this whole year - Olivier is a good plan B. I firmly believe that Alexis would be a good plan A, he had a better game than people give him credit for. Giroud was impressive and crucial to our draw, but let's not pretend that's proof he's good enough to be our first choice talisman. We deserve better.

I hope we hold on to Podolski...
If Saturday was a day of lessons, let it be learned that Joel Campbell is not ready yet. He was enthusiastic and lively when he came on, but he's still too raw to be even second choice winger. Podolski may have his drawbacks, but he guarantees goals and assists. Joel needs a year to adapt to the demands of the league. Podolski should be available to oversee that transition.

Is this a repeat of summer 2012?
We're entering into the last week of the transfer window, and we're still 2-3 players short. In my opinion we need at least one defender and a defensive midfielder, but it doesn't look like Wenger's serious to go for them. Yet again, Arsene is in danger of falling short and cover up the £63m spend on four players by selling Podolski. I don't think a fourth choice centre back would need assurances of Champions League football to hop on board.

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Looking at this performance, I strongly doubt our ability to get past Besiktas on Wednesday. The draw we managed to snatch is papering over huge cracks in our performance levels, so don't expect much to change in terms of our playing style. If Bilic has the tactical nous to navigate past an unpredictably sluggish Wenger's Arsenal, chances are we might be staring at Europa this season. I don't like it, but I'm on the verge of acceptance.

Wednesday could either catalyst or sink our season. I pray we're up to it.

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]