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Few thoughts on Anderlecht the away match

October 25, 2014


It was a strange feeling with over 50 years of supporting Arsenal I found myself walking away from the Emirates Stadium after the match against Hull with my Son and into Piebury Corner for nosebag on Saturday feeling –  well nothing much really,  apart from an over riding sense of frustration with our manager.

I wish Arsene would bark out a few more orders from the touchline when things are not going right. I understand having read articles before that Arsene likes his players to be intelligent and work things out for themselves on the pitch. I have also read and he has said personally to me that he loves good football. When Arsene sits watching a game as a manager on the touchline, he also likes to watch like a supporter and be entertained, well how is Arsenal’s football entertaining so far this season for him? You and I can do nothing about this as supporters, but Arsene can as manager, so I am somewhat frustrated with him that he jumps up and complains to the officials when things are not going right, yet does not get out into his technical area and bark orders to his players to remind them of their jobs. and what they are supposed to be doing.

Let’s me put this straight first – I am not anti-Wenger, nor am I pro-Wenger, I’m pro-Arsenal, maybe a tad biased at times, who isn’t?… Arsenal could get Sam Allerdyce in as manager and if he is the clubs choice, then I’ll back him as I will back any of our current players while they play for Arsenal. It’s what I have done for Arsenal’s managers since I have supported Arsenal as with the players. I tend to let the club do the hiring, firing, buying and selling.

I felt a lack of passion inside me after a draw and yet I felt I should have been feeling more passion, maybe even “football” anger.  This anger I speak of is not about having an over-the-top reaction to a draw or the fact the your team has only won two games out of eight in the league so far this season, as you could say we have still only lost one game. It’s not about nine years with only one trophy as I’ve seen longer periods where Arsenal have been trophy less and useless.

No this anger/passion I feel, I should feel, is me actually giving a Gareth Bale that Arsenal have dropped points again, when we have a group of players that you would imagine could win these sort of matches. That’s not saying I think Arsenal have a divine right to win football matches and you must also give credit to Hull who defended well and made an art of wasting time.


I feel Arsenal’s football has simply become to easy for teams to play against, predictable. A lot of diminutive little players running around like flies running into bigger opponents twenty yards from goal. To me it’s a tactic of pass, pass, pass, little flick, try to trick our way through the big defensive teams set out to defend and hopefully bag a worldly team goal made of 35/40 passes which includes three to four flicks and simple finish where the ball is simply walked into the net. The “Arsenal” goal I think it’s called. Great when it works, but it’s not working enough nowadays.

You can almost sense the lack of anticipation in the crowd when Arsenal are awarded a corner or a free kick as the supporters fully expect the ball to hit an opponents head. and be cleared.

When we played Galatasaray at home in the Champions League, they came with three at the back, you could well think Galatasaray actually came to try and get something out of the game, however, their tactics played right into Arsenal’s hands and we blew them away in the first half. Half time they changed things around and though we scored our fourth early in the second half, Galatasaray basically kept us at arms length, though you could say for Arsenal it was job done and did not force the issue anymore.

Arsenal ended up with Sanchez playing a silly ball out of defence, losing the ball for Galatasaray to hit us and get a late penalty which in turn saw Szczesny sent off which meant we would be without both our front line Keepers for the Anderlecht match. We need to cut this part of our game out. The match against Galatasaray was the first time Arsenal had scored four goals in a game since they beat Everton at home 4-1 in the FA Cup back in January.

Apart from the opening twenty minutes against Hull, Arsenal were predictable, that is until the time came in the match when to salvage anything Arsenal had no choice but to force the issue, go forward, put pressure on Hull and of course this is also a time when our opponents are tiring from chasing around after the ball. This is when Welbeck grabbed an injury time equaliser and Arsenal maybe could have scored another, why we don’t simply do this earlier I’ll never know.  Also it’s the irony that the goal was scored in injury time after Hull themselves wasted so much time on feigning injury.


The same could be said of the match against Anderlecht. Right from the off, you could see what sort of game it was going to be, following the path of previous away Champions League matches this season against Besiktas and Dortmund. Arsenal were out-of-sorts. The players simple could not pass the ball to each other with any kind of fluency. Sanchez as usual was the main man always skilful, always battling, he loses the ball, he goes and gets it back or at least tries. Sanchez set one up for Santi, who shinned it high and wide and then he crossed for Welbeck who headed wide. There were a couple of other attempts but nothing that looked like causing Anderlecht any danger or going into the net.

You would have though that after such a poor first half showing against what is said to be the weakest team in the group a rocket would have been placed on each spot where the players sit in the dressing room at half time and lit when the players sat on it. Yet out came Arsenal for the second and simply got worse. A chance for Cazorla who was put clean through by Sanchez yet only managing to put his shot straight at goalie. Then seven minutes later Anderlecht broke and scored with a header which was poorly defended. Again no real sense of hurt for me, more kind of expected. Any hope I felt of the players now pulling up their sleeves, showing some fight to get back into the game went when Anderlecht hit the bar and Martinez had to save us a few times from going two or three down. Ramsey and Sanchez had half chances but fail to hit target. Arsenal were playing like strangers.

Two minutes on the clock left plus injury time and who thought, honestly? Who thought, what was about to happen, would happen? Maybe with us scoring so many late goals, I should have thought it could happen.

Chambers collects the ball out on the right, puts in a peach of a cross and there is the other full back Gibbs to hit a well tidy shot into the opposite corner for 1-1. relief, that’s what it was pure relief, I make no bones about it, I was some what frustrated at Arsenal’s dismal performance and my Son and I were laughing at how dismal Arsenal were and yet here Arsenal were drawing 1-1 and no way deserved.

Then cor blimey guvnor, Arsenal came forward again – Gibbs crosses, Sanchez  controls the ball but is forced wide yet does manages to get a cross come shot in, the Anderlecht defender clears straight to Podolski on a substitute who in return smacks the ball into the roof of the net with interest and 2-1 to the Arsenal – HOW!!!  Now my Son and I are laughing for a different reason were stunned we are suddenly winning with two minutes left. Anderlecht have blown it.  Schweeeeet!!! The whistle goes and it’s 2-1 to the Arsenal and though I was happyArsenal won the game, that passion was still missing. Maybe it’s just that I have seen most things in football aged 57 and nothing surprises anymore. Maybe it just the circus that football has become that the passion is missing.

The result for me was totally undeserved but this is football, I’ve  seen many games over the decades that Arsenal didn’t deserve to lose, yet did. Frustrated by the game, loved the result. Three points bagged and win at home to Anderlecht and it’s the last sixteen either top or second. Personally I don’t care, in fact I’d take second and play second strings for the last two games with our injury crisis. You have to play the big clubs at some point.

I often hear people say when Arsenal lose playing well, I wish Arsenal could win ugly, well if Anderlecht was not winning ugly I don’t know what is.  Winning ugly though is alright when you have the odd poor game while in the main are playing well and get a result, but we have not really played well all season. Yes we have had good patches in games, but that’s about it.

The injuries that we all hoped would be sorted out during the summer have seemingly got even worse and it’s fast becoming a joke. The issue for me though is just how many players, top players can you have in reserve, when it’s a squad game that has numbers fixed. We really are unlucky in this respect and it’s been happening for a few seasons now. I suppose we have to be realistic here and accept that in football injuries happen and maybe it is purely coincidence were having this bad run, maybe it’s our style of football, I don’t know the answer, however, it’s happening and somehow Arsenal/Arsene have to deal with it.

Of course getting that extra defender and top class defensive midfielder many asked for may have helped, so that’s down to the club and manager who had the funds to make this happen. The thing is we are where we are and somehow the team need to start gelling and fast. If we can stay in and around the top two till January and get injured players back and one or two more players in, then who knows.

Arsenal’s passing game is fine when it works, yet when lesser opponents put two banks of four in front of you, basically saying, come in then! Break us down, we’ll take our chances and hopefully hit you on the break. This is where Arsenal have to be smarter and make our attacks and chances count, mix things up a bit, otherwise as the game progresses the team simply heap more and more pressure on themselves. The passing game goes to pot, then it’s look like we haven’t a clue how top break opponents down. Though it has to be said we have made plenty of  comebacks from behind since we lost 3-0 at Everton last season.

So here’s to hoping that the Arsenal can pull themselves up from that late victory against Anderlecht and use it as a springboard to start moving onwards and upwards for the remainder of the season. Here’s hoping the passion returns, I know my Son has it, as he looks always looks hurt when we don’t win, maybe as I said it’s an age thing.




One Comment leave one →
  1. Top Gun permalink
    October 25, 2014 12:37

    Fact is that Wenger is turning the fans (at least the old timers) against the club with his bizarre decisions and overall stubborness. Ibhave lost count of the numbers of times recently that i have heard Arsenal fans say the passion has gone. It cant be a coincidence, if things carry on like this most of the old school fans will disappear for good and all that will be left will be tourists and day trippers and a soulless team in a soulless stadium.

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