Two games, 2-0 up and looking really good but both ended in a draw. Why, I’ve no idea but in both fixtures, the opposition seemed to have a lightbulb moment. At Anfield, the crowd responded after Alexander-Arnold and Granit Xhaka had their spat, yesterday, a lapse in concentration from Thomas Partey, a missed handball by David Coote and VAR before a clumsy ‘challenge’ from Gabriel on Paqueta which having watched several times, I still can’t see any actual contact, gave West Ham a way back in from the penalty spot. They took it and with it, the London Stadium came alive. As did David Moyes team.
Before Benrahma tucked his spot kick past Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal had looked shaky. David Coote threw us a lifeline when at 2-1 up, he awarded us a penalty. A penalty Bukayo Saka fired wide. Within minutes, it was 2-2. We hung on for the point.
West Ham weren’t suddenly brilliant though, no more than Liverpool were last weekend but instead, Arsenal seemed to go from being in control into panic mode and with it, passes were going astray, we were losing challenges and forgot how to play the kind of football which got us to where we are right now.
Mikel Arteta made changes with Gabriel Jesus and Thomas Partey, both booked by Coote, for Jorginho and Leandro Trossard. Little changed. Before the final whistle went, Eddie Nketiah, Fabio Vieira and Reiss Nelson were on the pitch too and whilst the former played a couple of decent crosses into the box, nothing came of them. What could and should have been a final 10/15 minutes of pressure on West Ham’s defence was little more than a slow buildup fizzling out to nothing.
Of course it’s disappointing to end up with just a point after taking a two goal lead but doesn’t that say a lot about the progress we’ve made over the last year or so. Mikel Arteta hasn’t suddenly morphed into a bad manager and nor have any of our players suddenly become rubbish.
We know our strength, we know what we can do. Where we want to attack the opponent, in the first 10 to 20 minutes we did so good, after that we dropped our level and that obviously cannot happen if you want to fight for the title. It started from like 5 or 10 minutes before the penalty, because exactly after we scored the second goal we stopped. As a team, it’s no time to blame, as a team we have to raise the level again and come back to our principles and like I said win the games, that’s the only way we can arrive next month and then fight for the title again.
Why though, why did it happen? That’s something only the players and Mikel Arteta can work out and hopefully resolve as the last thing any of us want to see is our season end with a bad run of results to gift City the title. It might help if Gabriel Jesus could stay on his feet a bit more instead of going to ground when an opposition player gets anywhere near him. Love him, but he’s not at City now.
Is it more than a coincidence that since William Saliba has been missing, Arsenal haven’t looked as secure at the back? Rob Holding, whilst not to blame for anything much really, probably doesn’t bring the calm and control to our defensive unit which the Frenchman does. Thomas Partey, the usually mr dependable, was off his game yesterday, Granit Xhaka was virtually anonymous and Martin Odegaard went from brilliance to Sunday morning passing levels in a flash. Even Bukayo Saka looked like he’s was playing on a ploughed field. Seven days between matches sounds ideal but I bet footballers prefer to play every 3-4 days because of the momentum it brings with it. It’s us who think they can’t cope, not them.
Let’s talk about substitutions. When things aren’t going to plan, many of us look to the bench for solutions I’m sure. Our bench yesterday was: Matt Turner, Eddie Nketiah, Jorginho, Jakub Kiwior, Fabio Vieira, Leandro Trossard, Reiss Nelson, ESR and Reuell Walters. Apart from Leandro Trossard and Jorginho – our substitutes didn’t have much time to make an impact on the game. I know it’s often suggested on here that Mikel Arteta doesn’t make his changes quick enough or make the right choices but apart from Reiss Nelson’s late late show against Bournemouth, changes haven’t always changed a game. Maybe at Old Trafford they did and we know what happened then.
The title race isn’t over just yet although it’s fair to say that’s it’s advantage Man City but I’ve always believed it’s advantage Man City because of the squad Guardiola has and the experience they have of winning the Premier League. Arsenal need to keeping aiming for gold but if we do end up with silver, it’s going to have been a fantastic season. I just hope we can spring a few positive surprises yet…
Catch up in the comments.
Morning Rico and all.
In regard to what I wrote earlier, I said on yesterday performance we don’t deserve a top finish, I wasn’t talking about the whole season, and even Arteta wrote that we should off killed of the game by going for the 3rd goal, but we didn’t.
Good morning Rico.
Watching yesterday’s game it became obvious to me that after about thirty minutes Jesus had dropped deep into midfield and was no longer a goal threat. Whether through lack of fitness or just fatigue he should have been replaced with Trossard. Perhaps a face-saving half-time swap would have gone down a bit better than hooking him off part way through the first forty-five minutes. Either way Trossard would have given us more.
As I said yesterday, Partey’s head had gone before his booking and he too should have been subbed there and then.
I believe Partey’s continued ineffective presence forced Odegaard to drop into a more defensive role, further depriving us his attacking threat.
I recognise the fact that we are still mathematically ahead of the race, or slog, for the title and that we are far and away in a better position than any of us expected at the start of the season with Champions League qualification all but secure. All of which bodes well for next season when our squad will be improved with some judicious transfer dealing.
Are we down hearted? Maybe, but only temporarily. I hope. 😉
Morning Geoff, Cicero.
I’m not down hearted, just a tad cheesed off. 😂
Ref watch didn’t even look at the Rice handball.
One thing thats for sure is that this squad although good enough to get first or second is not strong enough for Champions league football . To get to the really finacially beneficial latter stages we need to evaluate more than a couple of players . We have to accept that some of our regular starters may have to become back up ones and that new purchases will have to replace first teamers . Peoples favourites may be replaced and some of the young ones that we want to see come forward may be surplus to requirement.
according to ex ref Mark Halsey, the reason why Rice was not penalized for handball was because it was deemed as accidental and accidental handball is not offence un the rules of handball.
sorry, should read not an offence under the rules of handball.
Accidental or not it led to a penalty and that was enough to have it ruled out, I suspect that a similar incident involving Xhaka at the Etihad which leads to an Arsenal penalty, will be reversed with City awarded a free kick and Xhaka cautioned just because it’s Xhaka and ‘his got that in his locker’…
The Premier League is bent I’m afraid and as the influence of Arab money becomes more prevalent the EPL will become more corrupt.
Cant help but agree with the last paragraph Kev.
Potter, I’m going to the Suffolk Country Fayre on June 1st so plenty of good local food, good drink and a comforting feel of Old England, i’m really looking forward to it.
Disappointing result yesterday. Definitely 2 points dropped this time. The team are choking and not coping with the pressure well at all.
We’ve started to concede more goals recently, and it’s no co-incidence that Saliba has been absent in this period.
It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride to the end of the season. Will be fun and painful in equal measure.
Agree Potter. We need 3/4serious upgrades.
The rules say that any handball before a goal should be penalised Geoff, or at least they used to.
FA rules under law 12 it shows a picture of a arm and clearly marked, then says not all handball’s are an offence then further down it read, if the ball hits any part of the arm deliberately or by accident it is a offence.