Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday December 30 2006
Normally I would allow myself to cool down after the game before commenting on the performance.
I have just arrived back from a pub full of celebrating fans of other clubs having seen Arsenal humiliated by a side that surely cannot cling on to its Premiership status this season. As you can imagine I am not in the best of moods.
Questions have been filling my head since I first took my seat in front of the big screen. Thank goodness (how restrained can I be?) we had visitors today which prevented me from making the trip. What a shame they left for their own journey north enabling me to take in the full horror of our display.
Before we had kicked off I could not believe we had left Fabregas on the bench when we had no Hleb, the only other vaguely creative resource being Rosicky who was forced to fill the hole on the right side of midfield. I know he needs to rest sometime, but in fairness before the start I was convinced this was not the day to do it. Bert as usual tried to extend himself to be the main man in the centre, but Flamini and Baptista is not a force made in heaven.
There was obviously a second effect to Fab's absence. Aliadiere had to play up front. This guy deserves the opportunity to prove himself somewhere, but we already knew it should not be at Arsenal. I wish him well when he is surely shipped out for any sort of fee in January, but I do not want to see us experiment with him in an Arsenal shirt again.
The game plan has been seen many times before. It's cold, we are in the north against a side that will battle and compete for everything, and it's a late kick-off. We knew what the result would be, didn't we?
Now consider that a side of honest, but limited, journeymen found itself without a goalkeeper for the last quarter of the game against a side bidding to get within eight points of Chelsea. How on earth did we lose?
In fairness we lost because two of our most consistent performers chose one moment to share a rare dip from their high standards. Kolo and Jens will cop the flak for the abject performance by their team-mates.
How many touches do Baptista and Van Persie need in front of goal when clear opportunities present themselves? How can a player of the obvious quality of Clichy trap a ball further than he can kick it?
I'm so pleased this year is over and the transfer window is about to open. Some of the deadwood can be cleared out, and hopefully a couple of fresh faces can be added to liven up the mix. Wengerball mark three will be a success, I'm sure, but this temporary derailment needs to be halted now.
Arsenal's new year resolution must be 'never again will we be outfought and embarrassed by a side who have just one quality, sheer hard work. Never again will we suffer a Bolton, a Manchester City, a Sheffield United, a West Bromwich Albion, just because we were out-muscled'.
Many thanks to Dave (aka Goonerholic) for that. I thoroughly agree with what he has to say.
Don't forget to catch Goonerholic's daily ramblings Goonerholic
Date:Saturday December 30 2006
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