The Premier League can be that cruel when you take it for granted, even for that little bit. It demands what it wants, and it expects nothing less. Last evening's performance showed you exactly that, and at such a juncture when the scales could be tipped almost in every direction. Every single team in this league is fighting for something.
We might have been low on commitment, according to Wenger, but if you ask me, this is the kind of defeat that has not happened for the first time. Maybe commitment is too harsh-a-word to use, but there was definite complacency. The '04 team did not become "The Invincibles" overnight. There was a lot of effort, lot of focus and consistency and commitment too. When you have had a seven game winning streak, does not mean that you are invincible.
Harry Redknapp last week mentioned that Arsenal were bound to drop points somewhere. I passed him off as a fool, who depended on our faults for his team to succeed. Maybe he had the Manc and Chelsea matches that we still have to play in the remaining seven. But you know what, we haven't yet played those matches and now we are potentially leveled on points with Rottenham, maybe potentially only ahead on a thin goal difference. Now most of us might be wishing for a Rottenham slip against Swansea, at White Hart Lane. It is true, the it doesn't take much for the wind to change direction! Also, Chelsea are now just 5 points behind us.
Manc drew against Sunderland last night and our three points could have put us just 10 points behind them, now its a 13 points difference.
I do not want to single anyone out but of course we made defensive mistakes. It is a good shock to come back to what has made our strength recently. Subconsciously something was missing today. In the Premier League, if you miss something on the commitment front you are beaten. That is what happened today.Apparently, something better from TV could have prevented both the goals. For the winner though, I think he was unlucky for the slip. If you observed carefully, there were lot of slips from the Arsenal team yesterday, we had some problem with the ball control, with managing our own pace. A lot of that blame can be put on the pitch. But, QPR were playing on the same pitch too, but then, it being their home ground they know it better and are better adjusted.
Arsene had something to say about the pitch too,
The pitch is not smaller than any other pitch. The pitch was bad but it does not explain our performance. We did not create enough to win a football game.I am not sure what he meant to say when he says that it is not smaller than any other pitch,...yes, so? But he is right about us not creating enough. I don't think we played particularly bad, we had decent possession of the ball. QPR invited us to come at them with the ball, and then when the players came to close, they pressed really well. We have had problems in this season when teams have pressed against us. I don't think that I have seen Arsenal's usual passing game this season, that we are used to see previously. Yes we have passed the ball well in recent matches, but it is still not the way it was before.
Zamora was like a big mountain between the ball and our defenders. He shielded the ball so well that it forced our defenders to make mistakes. Kos was almost invisible in the game. TV looked over committed in tackles at times and let the attackers get away. Arteta kept the ball really well, but he has got to contribute more to our forward play. He anchors the team well, but he has more in him than just passing the ball sideways and keeping possession. For me, Song was the only one who tried to create something time and again. It didn't matter that some of his creations failed to materialise, but he is getting better with that in each passing game.
Ramsey just looked out of position playing on the left, the team just did not looked balanced. Most of our attack was concentrated and focused through the right flank from Sagna and Walcott. Walcott was kept quiet and contained well by Derry. The goal might have earned Walcott some points.
I know that we can't expect RVP to score in every match. But it's been what, 3 games since he scored? We have had goals from other players lately, but RVP has to be our target man. He has been playing a bit more in the middle for my liking, allowing Walcott to assume that striker role time and again. Even though it is where RVP should be playing, but that's if we have a regular central striker and Walcott is not a real striker for me. Till such a time, RVP must play in that role and I think he does pretty well in anticipating chances in the box and his position is second to none. He missed a chance yesterday, but that was down to a great save from their keeper. But you expect such chances to be taken with his quality.
Again, Gervinho was not in the starting eleven. When you have two full time wingers in Gervinho and Ox, I just can't fathom the reason to play Ramsey on the left. I understand that Rosicky has been playing where Ramsey is used to play often, but Rosicky has been in good form recently and completely deserves a start. Ramsey on the other hand just seems a bit hesitating when it comes to the final third, and maybe Arsene needs to think about his tactics more cleanly. Ramsey, for me, would be better suited in an Arteta position, but then again, Arteta has brought immense experience to that role. But I would never play him on the left.
Then, Gervinho was brought on too late and Ox, even later, for any impact to be made. The lack of playing time has made Gervinho a bit rusty too. Also maybe the African Cup of Nations miss might have affected him. But that thing is almost two months old now, shouldn't he have gotten over it till now?
It brings us to the Manc game next. They have had two straight draws and have fallen behind in the title race to Manu. They surely wouldn't want to let go off that opportunity to win a league title in a long time. Our job will be a bit tough, but its a match where we cannot be low on confidence or on concentration or commitment. Manc have a very good squad and players that could punish you with the slightest lapse in performance.
So again, it is up to us to keep our league position intact and not slip up any further.
We know how to respond, we have been exposed to this situation this season. We have a good opportunity on Sunday but it will be needed after giving away the points today.Yes we have faced such situation in the season, but I think it is going to be tougher as we approach the end of the season. I am sure everyone is on their toes!