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A few thoughts on the Queen’s Park Rangers match.

December 27, 2014

Consistency! A word Arsene Wenger has used a lot over the years.

Twenty-eight matches in all competitions into the 2014-15 season and Arsenal have lost six of them. I suppose there could be an argument for some sort of consistency in that statistic as far as losing is concerned. However, six draws with four defeats in the league means twenty-four points have gone begging, leaving Arsenal fifteen and twelve points behind the leading pair Chelsea and Man City respectively almost at the half way stage. As far as Arsenal’s standard of play is concerned, for me, there has been no consistency whatsoever this season.

Every game Arsenal play you just never know what team is going to be put out or what team is going turn up. The one consistency Arsenal do have this season is playing nowhere near their capabilities and the football has actually been poor and dare I say – boring.

During Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the club I feel I have been a pretty positive Arsenal supporter as Arsenal have played good football and if we lost, then by playing good football I was never that bothered as I knew Arsenal would win many games, maybe not enough to challenge City and Chelsea recently but enough to get results to keep the club in the top four, even winning the FA Cup last season. If we get into the top four this season, then it will be down to others simply being worse than Arsenal are currently are.

Queen’s Park Rangers at home was for me only the second match this season where before the game I was pretty confident Arsenal would win the match, the other was Burnley at home. After all Rangers have lost all their away matches this season.

Arsenal’s squad for the match : Szczesny, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Rosicky, Flamini, Cazorla, Sanchez, Giroud, Welbeck. Subs: Podolski, Ospina, Walcott, Chambers, Campbell, Coquelin, Bellerin.

Once again Theo was on the substitutes bench and not used. I still think Theo is being put on bench to placate the supporters in hope he is back. I also think some of our players will be back in early January which is perfect timing for the transfer window if you want to see them as new signings and maybe use them as an excuse for not entering into the market early on. Then there is a case for hoping they can all stay fit throughout the month and then maybe only needing to buy one player by the end of the window for a bargain. Hope I am wrong.

It was nice to see Rosicky get his first start of the season. No Chambers or Bellerin in starting line up so Debuchy went back to right back and left back Monreal covered the centre back spot with Mertesacker.

As expected all the early play was by Arsenal, yet not much was really happening when in the ninth minute Gibbs broke into the area and crossed. The crowd shouted for what looked like a handball which was not given, yet the ball fell for Welbeck to shoot and it looked as if Welbeck’s shot was on target but hit Sanchez who controlled the ball, took on Traore who in turn took out Sanchez and Atkinson pointed to the spot. Sanchez took the penalty and saw his shot saved by Green.

Arsenal were playing the ball around as usual but for me all that was actually happening was the standard pass, pass, pass, until we finally either had the ball taken away from us or gave the ball away. How many times do Arsenal come forward, reach the twenty yard line and just start going backwards to come forward again? In games against the likes Rangers Arsenal do get the ball back quickly yet simply keep doing the same old same old passing the ball to death routine and not penetrating our opponents defence enough. Arsenal got a free kick which Giroud lifted over wall but a comfortable height and speed for Green to deal with.

Rosicky-Welbeck-Cazorla-Gibbs who crossed a pin-point ball onto Sanchez’s head 1-0 Arsenal!!! Finally a series of two touch passes at speed created a chance, best passage of play and Arsenal score.

1-0 Half time.

The start of the second half nothing was happening, when suddenly the ball is played through to Giroud who chased the ball down and  looked to be pushed in the back by Onuoha, which sent Giroud crashing into Green. Giroud, annoyed by this, turns, goes head to head with Onuoha and head butts the guy, not a proper Glasgow kiss by any means but this is football where the merest of touches is deemed dangerous.  Just a minute before this incident the ball was on the Rangers touch-line and Arsenal had Rangers hemmed in. Then as the Rangers player was trying to clear, for no reason whatsoever, Giroud pulled the Rangers player to give away what I thought was stupid free kick, all the Rangers player was going to do was kick it back up field to an Arsenal player. It looked like Giroud was getting frustrated then.

Giroud knows the score as do we all, it’s a red card, a stupid, stupid red card and there was simply no need for it. I must say though that the push by Onuoha and his following reaction from Giroud’s very light touch was shocking going down like he’d been pole axed and for me should have got a red card to, yellow at worse.

I fully expected with eleven men that Arsenal would go on to win the match 3 or 4-0 in the last twenty minutes, but that sending off changed things.  Sixty-fifth minute Cazorla-Sanchez who ran at the Rangers defence twisting and turning laid a good ball into the path of Rosicky who side footed the ball past Green for 2-0 Arsenal!!!

Seventy-six  minutes, Hoilett fouled Mertesacker, Penalty!!! No! The referee said, it was nailed on. Atkinson would have had to send off Hoilett as well. Seventy-seventh minute and Hoillet took on Debuchy in the area. Debuchy got his foot to the ball and flicked the ball away, yet somehow with a clear view of the incident Atkinson deemed a very good tackle, a penalty, Rangers scored and suddenly it’s 2-1 and a nervy last 15 minutes.

Arsene decided it was time to let Rangers come at Arsenal so with only ten minutes left on the clock off went Welbeck and Rosicky and on came Chamber’s and Coquelin, therefore reducing any out ball Arsenal might have. Rangers kept coming forward, kept shooting, thankfully most were high and wide, but they ended up with more shots at goal than Arsenal, though what constitutes a shot at goal nowadays I’m not so sure?

Ninety-minutes and Atkinson failed to give Rangers a nailed on penalty when Gibbs fouled Zamora in the box. Honestly where do they get these diabolical officials from. Atkinson gives one decision that was not a penalty and then fails to give one that was. Was Atkinson making up for the one from Debuchy, you’d think that was the case as surely that was the only reason he could not have given the penalty on Zamora, thus simply covering up one mistake with another. Almost every bloody match nowadays the officials are making wrong calls. It will never stop either while they are protected so much. What reason do referees have to improve?

Officials make so many mistakes and slink off into the background where the football authorities will makes sure nothing is done. We’ll never hear from the officials with reasons as to why they made the decisions that they have.  We might hear that one or two will be demoted for a week or maybe no game the following week, but as soon as you like, there they are back officiating top matches and making the same old same old mistakes again and again. The Premier League, the league we are told is the World’s best, the No.1 football product, with shocking officials, talk about shooting yourself in the foot.  Make them come out and explain themselves, then you will see and instant improvement.

The match was another get through and three points for Arsenal. Sometimes you simply have to win when not playing well and a wins a win. Yet how many big games and tough games against lesser opponents that give it a go are a team like Arsenal going to win playing like they currently are?

Giroud now misses West Ham United, Southampton and Hull in the FA Cup, which means no rest if they were going to get one for Sanchez or Welbeck. I don’t feel confident that this Arsenal team can win at either ground, though with this Arsenal team they could if the right team turns up and can be bothered.

Sanchez was head and shoulders the MOTM the guy has everything and for me makes paying my entrance fee worth the money. Rosicky had a good game and so did Gibbs. Flamini and Santi also did well. In fact you could argue that none of the players individually had poor games, yet as a team it was not so good.

I’m not sure this team/squad are ever going to be able to play the type of football we used to play again under Arsene Wenger. Something is not right behind the scenes at the club. The talent is there but the Arsene seems unable to get that talent playing and is simply finding excuse after excuse for why it’s not happening instead of correcting it and getting the right players to play in the right positions and making the squad as strong as it can be to make a proper challenge.

Also someone at the club really needs to get a handle on the teams free kicks and corners, it quite frankly embarrassing how poor they are. Free kicks and corners are part of a teams armoury and Arsenal are simply taking very few opportunities from these set plays.

Two tough games that are now looming away from home. Let’s hope the right team turns up.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

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