Last night Arsenal were not glorious defeat. Arsenal were not unlucky. It was not a result to be proud of. Ultimately, Arsenal were dumped out at the 2nd round of the Champions League once again. And we were victims of our own downfall.
Yes, 2-0 away at a side who had not conceded a home goal since November is a good result, and as a single game, it was an excellent performance, one of our best of the season, but the Champions League is over 2 legs, and having conceded 3 at home in the 1st leg, we did not deserve to go through.
We showed how average this Monaco team was last night and, infact, had finishing been better, both last night and at home, we could have scored 5 or 6. We should have scored 5 or 6. A 2-0 win away at Monaco should have been expected. It should have been building on a comfortable home victory. But we bottled it at home. That last second goal at the Emirates putting the nail in the coffin.
We are out and deserve to be so.
Spurs fans however need a reality check. For some time, we have known that there footballing lives is dictated by our failures, rather than their success, and their boasting about us being out, and them having made more quarter finals in recent years shows how small time they are. They got knocked out of the Europa League, are 7th in the league, lost in the League Cup Final, and are out of the FA Cup. Their season is over.
As things stand, Spurs will need need Arsenal to win the FA Cup for them to get into Europe next season. There is a sensible Spurs fan out there:
Alexis Sanchez is a brilliant player. He plays the game the way everyone should. Realising you have a talent, working hard at it, and playing with a smile on your face. You know his life is football. You get the sense he is more interested in kicking a ball about than the money in the bank.
At times this season, he has single handedly won games for Arsenal. But in his last 11 games, he has gone off the boil, with just 1 goal and 1 assist in that time.
It is natural for players to have peaks and troughs throughout their career. Even more usual is foreign players to have an average 1st season. The fact Sanchez started so brilliantly just further highlights his current dip of form.
The worry for me is Sanchez’s response to this dip in form. Rather than keeping it simple, playing himself back into form, Sanchez seems to be burying his head in and complicating his game. Last night was a perfect example.
Sanchez continually gave the ball away, continually ran into blind alleyways. Yes, he was fouled a lot, and wrongly booked for diving, but it was certainly his worst game in an Arsenal shirt so far.
At 74%, his pass completion was only better than Olivier Giroud, of our starting 11 – Cazorla, Ramsey & Ozil were all over 84%, Coquelin 94.6%. Yes, I know that passing is not his game, but 74% is very low, that is dribbling.
He only successfully completed 1 dribble, and was disposed more than any other player 0 bar Giroud, and with just 1 shot, which was off target, he contributed little.
You could see last night why he does not suit Barcelona and why they were happy to sell him. He is not a team player. It reminds me of when you play FIFA online in the mode where you play as a single player. There is always someone in your team who every time they pick up the ball, they attempt to run it the length of the field and score. They usually mess up. Sanchez is that sort of player.
He needs to learn to get his head up, to notice his team mates, to play the simple pass. He does not need to try and win the game single handedly every time.
Despite the criticism, he is a quality player and will continue to get better.
Whilst Alexis Sanchez seems to be immune to criticism, Mesut Ozil seems to be able to do nothing right in the eyes of most journalists and some Arsenal fans. Since he has returned from his injury, he has been in sensational form, and last night was no different.
The reports from last night would make you think Ozil had a stinker. Bet lets look at things:
Successful dribbles – 6 (Match high)
Passes – 101 (Only Cazorla completed more)
Pass completion – 84.2%
Kay passes – 2 (Match high)
Touches – 126 (Only Cazorla had more)
Crosses – 8 (Match high)
Yes, he might not do the defensive work load some demand, but that is not his game. Complaining that Ozil does not put in enough tackles is the same as moaning that Mertesacker does not put in enough crosses, our Bellerin does not make enough saves. It is not his game.
As for the shirt swap. Some people were up in arms over this, but in my opinion, if you are the one being asked to be swapped with, it is actually a good thing, as it shows your opponent believes himself to be inferior to you. Kondogbia asking Ozil to swap was very different to Santos asking van Persie to swap.
What to do with Theo Walcott. Since he returned from nearly a year out, he has struggled. Struggled to make the starting 11, struggled to make an impact when he come’s on.
The chances he has missed since returning from his injury are into double figures. Against West Ham he could have had a hat trick, last night he should have scored – hitting the post.
The problem is he plays on the edge of the game. Bar hitting the post last night, he did little else. In 25 minutes of football, he touched the ball just 4 times. In comparison, Gibbs was on the field for half the time yet had 21 touches.
I have long been a fan of Walcott, and 2 years ago he was one of the best players in the Premier League and had finally looked to have become a man, then he got injured.
He is now 26, and as examples of Michael Owen and Fernando Torres show, players start to slow down in their mid-late twenties, and if you have not developed other aspects to your game (as Giggs & Henry did) you will struggle. Walcott is now in that boat.
With one year left on his contract, Arsenal have a decision to make. Do they offer him the deal he wants, which, with his recent injury record and dip in form could be a waste of money in a year or so, or do Arsenal cash in this summer.
I feel it will be the later. I would not be too surprised to see Walcott moved on and Arsenal sign Raheem Sterling, who also has 1 year left on his contract. Or even a shock move for Gareth Bale.
The fact is, our right hand side is the weakest part of our attack. Walcott can be improved on. I think he will be improved on.