Another game, another bizarre, soul-destroying performance from Arsenal at the Emirates.
So, what did we learn from our embarrassing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Watford?
Aaron Ramsey x Francis Coquelin does not work
Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin as a midfield combination doesn’t work.
Xhaka and Rambo; Coq and Santi Cazorla, sure, but not Coq and Rambo together. Individually, they’re decent enough midfielders – particularly Rambo – but when you put them together, their styles just don’t fit.
Neither player’s passing was particularly strong against Watford. Although Ramsey did complete 12/14 passes during his 20 minutes on the pitch, only two of them really contributed to going forward.
Coquelin, unsurprisingly, was similar in this instance. Having one more defensive holding midfielder is fine, even preferable, but having two players who are so similar isn’t. Both tended to hold back while Rambo didn’t really have enough time to warm into the game, meaning that huge gaps were left in midfield, which wasn’t helped by Mesut Ozil having a generally bad day at the office as well.
Alexis Sanchez is, in fact, human
I know, I know, but the rumours are true: Alexis Sanchez is, in fact, a human being.
God love him, he didn’t stop running against Watford but even he couldn’t perform a miracle, despite producing the assist for Alex Iwobi’s goal in the second half.
Although the Chilean does tend to have a little bit of a wayward touch, usually disguised by his ability to then produce magic off the back of it, against the Hornets he just wasn’t at his best. He had four shots, none of which were on target and only completed 31/46 passes – 19/31 were in the final third.
It would be reassuring if we didn’t suffer so much as a result.
Olivier Giroud was right
The big guy has repeatedly urged the fans (and probably players too) to not expect him to pull magic out the bag and save the team every game and our match against Watford proved that he’s right. He wasn’t great against the Hornets, only completing 3/4 passes in the final third during the first half and not having a single shot on goal.
Although this wasn’t the France international’s fault, since he needs service from somewhere and Arsenal couldn’t manage to string more than one or two passes together in the first half, it did demonstrate how relying on one player, whether that be Giroud or Alexis Sanchez, is fruitless.
We need to be starting stronger and not relying on comebacks because honestly? It’s got pretty boring.
Hector Bellerin > Gabriel
As if we need it confirmed any further, Bellerin is an unreal right-back and not having him in the starting lineup really hampers our threat going forward. Gabriel is used to playing centrally, thus tends to hang back. He doesn’t have the speed or confidence that our young Spaniard does, which is probably a good thing considering how terrible we were WITH the Brazilian at the back.
During the first half, Gabriel completed 17/27 passes, which simply isn’t good enough and it didn’t get much better in the second (34/46 in total).
He recovered the ball five times and completed 5/7 tackles, making three interceptions and 5/5 clearances. He also won 5/7 aerial duels so, as you can see, his defensive attributes aren’t horrific but going forward, he was. Just 1/2 successful passes in the final third during the first half? Really? Saying this, in total, he completed 8/12, showing a decent improvement in the second half.
Arsenal PROBABLY aren’t winning the Premier League
I hate to be that person since I realise there’s plenty of the season to play but I usually pride myself on being a realist: Arsenal ain’t winning the Premier League this season. Chelsea, who we beat 3-0 at the Emirates in September and face next in the League, are just too strong.
Arsenal are embarrassingly frail and remarkably inconsistent for a team that looks so bright at times. It’s not good enough and it’s not how you win titles.
Arsenal are able to make substitutions before the 60th minute
I’d read about it before but never knew it was possible. Perhaps it was Steve Bould taking control while Arsene Wenger served out the second game of his four-match ban in the stands; maybe the boss was drunk; maybe Theo Walcott locked Giroud in the toilet at half time and no one let him out?
All we know is that it happened and it made a difference.
Not that it mattered.
Stats via FourFourTwo’s Statszone