Wow. After nearly 24 hours awake, a 380 mile round journey, seeing us going cross-country twice due to diversions on the A1 and getting home at nearly 3am, the confusion is still within as to how we lost that game.
It was just not good enough. The senior players did not look up for it, and were let down by the younger pro’s who were clearly not up for it. The younger players proved that they were not Arsenal quality, but also let down by the senior pro’s who failed to guide them through the game.
Did anyone get out of the game with any credit?
Petr Cech – 4 shots on target. 3 conceded. Not stats to be proud of. I think he could have done more with the first. He looked flat footed. Was he entirely up for the game? Was the adrenaline pumping? In the Premier League, I think he would save that. The other two, he could not have done any more. I really do not understand why he played?
Mathieu Debuchy – Debuchy has now played 3 games this season. 2 defeats and one win. And even in that win, against Spurs in the League Cup, he was the worst player on the field. Clearly lacking match sharpness, but he is also playing like a player who knows his Arsenal career is over and his international career in jeopardy. He came to us as France’s number 1 right back, he was not called up for the last squad. With Jenkinson doing well at West Ham, I would not be surprised if this was Debucy’s last game in an Arsenal shirt. Jenko return to compete with Hector Bellerin, he will be out on his ear. Was at fault for the first, and offered nothing defensively or going forward.
Calum Chambers – When your team concede from two set pieces, you have to question the centre backs. Per Mertesacker did not do a good job of marshalling his troops (more later), but Chambers once again looked like a rabbit in the headlights. He has gone backwards in the last 12 months. It is nearly a year to the day since he was destroyed against Montero of Swansea. He needs games. He is still just 20. Look at John Stones, the progress he is making. A January loan move (with an option to recall) would do him the world of good.
Per Mertesacker – The senior player on the pitch. The captain. The 100 cap world cup winning international. And he failed to organise the side. You get this with Per sometimes. He will be excellent for a run of games, then through in a pony performance where he looks like Bambi. Last night was one of those. I guess the only thing to be grateful for is that he has chucked in a pony performance in the League Cup, and not in the last few games previous. He let his side down.
Kieran Gibbs – Another senior pro who let his team down. Gibbs is now 26. And yet he still often plays with the timidness of a 20 year old. He offered little in defence, and not much going forward. It did not help his cause that infront of him was a player he had probably only spent a few hours training with previous, meaning his one twos down the line werenot on the same wave length, but it was a piss poor performance and he looked half the play of Nacho Monreal. His career is not at a cross roads.
Mathieu Flamini – I actually felt sorry for Flamini. He is a midfielder destroyed. An engine. And last night, due to injuries and lack of option, he had to become the midfield playmaker with two kids ahead of him. Not an ideal situation. Saying that, he should be good enough to move into that roll against a side such as Sheffield Wednesday, and the fact he was unable to step up shows he is not Arsenal quality. Most wanted him gone in the summer. 2 goals against Spurs hid the fact that he is simple not good enough. Worryingly, due to injuries, he will probably start on Saturday against Swansea.
Glen Kamara – I am always reluctant about criticising kids. It is not far on them. Not fair to destroy their confidence, not fair to attempt to destroy their career before it has even started. And not fair to judge them on one game. But Kamara is 20 (today. Happy Birthday). He will never play for Arsenal again. He perhaps shows how bad of a shape our youth set up is in (they do not play in the top Division remember), if he is the best we have to offer. A competition which saw the likes of Fabregas and Wilshere break through, has probably also seen one of the worst players in recent times pull on an Arsenal shirt.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – He could have made the difference last night. We struggled due to the 3 behind Olivier Giroud not being good enough. Last night was set up for him to dictate the game. To go off after 5 minutes was disappointing. And the disappointment was etched over his face. With Aaron Ramsey out, this was his chance, but he now see;s another spell on the sidelines, and his Arsenal career might be running out of time.
Joel Campbell – I laugh to myself every time I think of “Get out whilst you can Joel” and people rating him highly and saying it is a disgrace that he has not played more. He is just not Arsenal quality. A few lunging tackles aside, he did nothing. Again. This was his 4th game of the season. It has produced 3 defeats. We should have sold him after the World Cup 16 months ago. At 23 and having played over 100 games of top flight football in France, Spain & Greece, he was one of the senior players last night. And he failed to step up to the plate.
Alex Iwobi – Like Kamara, I do not want to be too harsh. But like Kamara, he showed he is not of the quality Arsenal need. 19 years old, he has looked good on youtube. But the fact is, at the same age, the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Ryan Smith & Jay Simpson were better. And where are they now? Like Kamara, he is a poor reflection on a poor youth set up. Something that needs to be addressed.
Olivier Giroud – He played like he did not want to be there. In his mind were Ozil, Sanchez, Cazorla, Coquelin & Bellerin, sitting in their in a jacuzzi, eating pizza. He was on the field on a cold wet Tuesday night in Sheffield. And he could not do it.He is not a game changer on his own. He relies on those around him to create the chances. And last night, those around him were not good enough, and that translated through to his performance. Most dissapointing was when he barracked young Iwobi for delvering a poor cross. Rather than encourage the yougnesters, he looked down at them, letting them know they were not good enough.
Theo Walcott – Had he failed to warm up properly? Would he have made a difference when he came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain? Who knows. On the pitch for 15 minutes. Get’s injured. The worry is how long he is out for, not how he performed last night.
Ismael Bennacer – A summer signing from France. Another kid who showed he is not yet good enough to step up. Let’s be honest. Before last night. None of us knew who he was (same as Kamara), and in 5 years time, none of us will remember who he was.
Krystian Bielik – The only youngster to come out with any credit. Looked tidy on the ball and battled well. On the flip side, by the time he came on with 30 minutes to go, the game was over and Arsenal were simply passing the ball from side to side. disappointed he did not get the start ahead of Kamara.
Arsene Wenger – Did he get it wrong? The starting 11 was what most of us called for, bar Glen Kamara. So not in the 11. The team was clearly demotivated. That is an issue all Wenger sides have had in the last 10 years when playing weaker sides. And you could argue the bench was too weak with only Walcott and Monreal as senior players. But then what are the odds that you lose two senior attacking players in the first 15 minutes? We will only see over the next 10 days if leaving Czorla, Coquelin, Sanchez & Ozil at home was the right thing to do. Beat Swansea, Mnich & Spurs and this defeat will look like a sacrifice well made. Lose, and we will be questioning why he has given up a chance of another trip to Wembley.
You could question his substitutions, After Walcott went down, could he have put on Monreal, pushing Gibbs onto the wing? Or bought on Gabriel, pushing Chambers to right back and Debuchy on the wing? Possibly. But having seen senior players pick up injuries, he bottled it.
A poor performance. the senior players need to look at themselves, and Arsenal’s youth academy is clearly not producing. But then we knew that already.
For those who went, get some coffee down your neck and have a good day. Some of you probably have a weekender in Swansea coming up, followed by a Monday flight to Munich. We are glutens for punishment.
Finally, well played to Sheffield Wednesday. You did us good and proper.