After the game, Mikel Arteta said:
No complaints. This is football. We were really good in the first half and controlled totally the game, we created loads of big chances that we didn’t put away. In the second half we put ourselves in problems.
I bet deep down he was seething. Not because of the two points dropped but the performance of the officials. How many times did Southampton get away with shirt pulling and tugging back our guys. Why on earth was Bukayo Saka booked after being fouled, or Gabriel Jesus not be awarded a penalty? Towards the end, Lyanco should have seen red for his reaction towards Eddie Nketiah – there were more incidents but going through them all won’t change a thing.
That said, our last three fixtures have been similar. Start well, control the game, create plenty of chances but can’t take them. Second half, we drop off, allow the opposition back into the game but unlike in the previous two fixtures, yesterday we conceded.
What a great strike from Granit Xhaka, yet again. And with his right foot, yet again. Difficult, yet made to look so simple. The cross from Ben White wasn’t bad either. We needed a second goal but it never came and eventually, Southampton equalised.
Of course the result was disappointing, as was the second half performance but at least we didn’t lose.
Faint alarm bells were ringing in my ears during the game, to be fair, they have for the last three but not because I think Arsenal are losing their way, just that we create chance after chance, but aren’t taking them. We could have been 2/3 up by the time Ralph decided to change things. A win could have been all but secured by half-time.
As said, the second half performance was poor by this Arsenal team’s standards. Perhaps it is a simple case of certain individuals being knackered. Is the Thursday/Sunday football catching up with the player’s bodies. Probably in my opinion.
We have six fixtures still to play between now and November 12th when domestic football stops for the World Cup. Three Premier League fixtures, two of which are away from home at Chelsea and Wolves but next up is Nottingham Forest at The Emirates on Sunday. The others are two in the Europa League and one in the League Cup.
If one was to guess at which competition is the priority for Arsenal, if there is one of course, surely it has to be the Premier League and doing everything possible to finishing the season in one of the top four places.
The Europa League is just pot luck. We could have a favourable draw all the way to the final but equally, we could draw one of the clubs who drop down from the Champions League, like Ajax, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan or Sevilla in the next round and be beaten. We’re already through to the knockout stages but securing top spot is means we’d not have another two fixtures added to our already hectic schedule.
If fatigue is playing it’s part in our drop in intensity as games go on, surely something has to give. Personally, I hope that not one of the starting eleven from yesterday make the trip to Holland this week but I doubt that’ll be the case because unless Mikel Arteta is prepared to include a number of under 23 players, we don’t have the depth/strength to do that. For a start, who is there in the under 23’s could play alongside Rob Holding? That’s just for starters.
What a difference having ESR and Mo Elneny fit right now would make, Oleksandr Zinchenko too. Injuries are part of the game I know and having strength in depth helps to overcome them but I’m not sure Mikel Arteta quite has enough to really compete in all four competitions. It would be easy for me to sit here and type ‘he could have or should have’ rotated his players more than he has but just imagine the outcry had we lost in Zurich or were beaten by Bodo/Glimt and/or PSV Eindhoven? None of those fixtures were a walk in the park were they? Statistics will tell us they were of course, but if we can’t take our goal scoring chances, possession and 20 odd shots on goal become irrelevant when the game is over and we’ve dropped points.
Even so, we’re still top of the league and we finished the weekend with one point more than Liverpool and Totts managed and we equalled Chelsea and Man Utd so all is not doom and gloom.
See you in the comments.