After a disappointing defeat to Everton that left the initiative for fourth spot firmly in the latter's hands, the Gunners will want a positive result against Wigan in the semis
It’s getting from bad to worse, isn’t it? Another crushing away defeat has left our title challenge in absolute tatters and we are now desperately hanging onto that precious fourth spot. It’s now in Everton’s hands and you can’t say that we deserved anything more after that performance.
Having said that, I honestly thought this wasn’t as bad as the result suggests. We actually started reasonably well, but our naïve defending was ruthlessly exploited by an Everton side high on confidence.
Everton invited us to come at them, we left gaping holes at the back, and the rest… was misery. When Per Mertesacker has to cross the halfway line frequently to support the attack, you know that there’s an accident waiting to happen.
This was also a match in which hardly anything went for us. Lukas Podolski’s shot was superbly tipped over, a handball in the box didn’t result in a penalty for us, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot hit the bar and Yaya Sanogo’s goal was ruled out incorrectly due to offside. And at the other end, Mikel Arteta’s attempted tackle ended up clinching the win for Everton. Just one of those days, I guess.
But there’s an air of negativity about our club at the moment, which was clearly felt at the Arsenal Singapore fan club at Molly Roffey’s on Sunday night. Groans, rants, and swear words (which I can’t reproduce here) could be heard all night long and it is fully understandable given the expectations set by our early season form.
There’s certainly a lot that could be improved at our club, both in terms of personnel and tactics, but for now I’ll choose to highlight a couple of positives from the match. There’s no lack of criticism if you trawl the numerous football blogs and columns around the web, so this is my attempt to restore a tiny bit of positivity.
The first involves our club captain. I thought Thomas Vermaelen had an excellent game at the back, bailing us out a number of times with timely interventions and last ditch tackles. Of our three central defenders, he is also the most adept at bringing the ball out of defence, so it’s comforting to see him tie that together with a commanding display at the back.
The other positive surrounds the return of Aaron Ramsey. How we have missed him. His introduction immediately brought directness and incisiveness to our attacking game and we definitely looked more threatening with him in the team. This will provide a much needed boost to our attacking game for the remainder of the season.
The remainder starts with an FA Cup semi-final and I’m siding with Arsene Wenger that a switch in competition might be the best thing at this point. Let’s forget our poor league form for now and remember that we’ve disposed of Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton in the FA Cup this season. If we can do that, we definitely possess the ability to see off Wigan, be they giant-killers or not.
It’s a cliché that every game is a cup final at the business end of the season, but win this game and we’ll be in a real cup final come the end of the season. Equally important is the fact that we need a good result to turn the tide and breathe some much needed confidence back into the team.
I’m expecting Wigan to give us a real tough fight, but our players must see that the final is just 90 minutes away. This isn’t the time for desperate acts or gung-ho action. This isn’t the time for Hail-Marys and final throws of the dice. This is the time for professional action and simply getting the job done. The result is king, as they say and the right result may just salvage what’s left of our season.
Let’s keep our heads up, fellow Gooners. There’s still much to play for this season and there might be much to cheer about at the end. Just make sure you’re there for the whole ride.
Come on you Gunners!!!