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Arsenal need to create more luck

Arsenal need to create more luck

There is little more miserable than losing a game that is winnable as I suppose all home games against newly promoted sides must be. We didn`t play well enough by our standards to triumph irrespective of the pattern of the game yesterday. It`s a sign of a championship winning team that can win when it is playing poorly goes the football cliché. There is an element of truth in that of course. One player capable of a moment`s brilliance can turn a game but as much it`s a stroke of fortune at the right time that has that effect.

Arsenal didn`t play well enough against Newcastle yesterday. We didn`t create enough of the quality of chances we needed to ensure we won the game. Unless Cesc is firing on all cylinders we lack the creativity we need to always open teams up as often as we need for our level of finishing to reap its rewards. Based on minutes played Cesc is by some distance the one player, guaranteed to start, likely to create assists or goal attempts with any frequency. Arshavin has the higher number of assists in PL and CL games but has half as much more playing time to his name. But rather like Nasri and Wilshere he doesn`t create goal attempts often enough. Rosicky does though. Although he has only one assist in the PL and CL games he has played this season he creates goal attempts at a similar rate to Cesc. In games like yesterdays we need as much creative influence as can get on the pitch. Songs industry won`t often be enough to compensate as it did in the West Ham game. Replacing Nasri with Arshavin was at best a like for like swap in terms of adding creative options. Maybe Rosicky isn`t fit enough, or deemed too fragile to play as many games as Arshavin or Nasri but we need to get him on the pitch in games like these. You create your own luck goes another football cliché, also with more than an element of truth in it.

ManU didn`t play any better on Saturday against Wolves than we did against Newcastle. There`s no comfort in that and it`s only relevant in pointing out that there is a fine line between the result that we suffered and that which ManU, as one of our peers, enjoyed which has nothing to do with the quality of performance or the spirit of the players. They may have had a couple more attempts on target than we had but didn`t hit the woodwork as often as we did. They also allowed their opponents more opportunities to score and enjoyed less possession than we did. In themselves those stats don`t tell the whole story any more than stats ever do but they do show that our failings have as much to do with the run of the ball as any lack of quality compared to at least one of the teams currently above us. Of course there are times when the ball does run our way as over a full season it invariably must but in order for us to triumph often enough we need to play at a level that minimises the dependency on such factors though it`s never possible to eliminate them. That level is some way above what we achieved yesterday.

No-one is finding the league easy so far this season. Chelsea are having the best of it so far but have lost only one game less than us. ManU remain the one side that could match our unbeaten season without really convincing anyone that they`ll be able to do so on current form. The quality of the PL is high and pretty well any team is capable of making a decent fist of it as we`ve seen already. Whether the squads are strong enough to sustain that level with what is still almost three quarters of the season left to play is something we`ll discover only when we get to the end of it.

Yesterdays result will have been doubly disappointing for those that felt our form and the form of those above us had increased our title chances beyond the third favourites at best as we were at the beginning of the season. Truth is we aren`t any better than that at present but the 'lack of bottle' analysis which is the most favoured default criticism when trying to explain something which isn`t easy to explain is nothing more than a convenient box to shove frustration into.

Chris Hughton got closer to it yesterday when, while rightly enjoying the reward that his sides industry, quality and professionalism unexpectedly brought them, he admitted in passing that "We rode our luck at times". Find the Di Matteo post match interview from the earlier defeat to West Brom and you`ll hear the same sentiment. I realise that pointing out the role that fortune plays in these games will irritate some determined to believe there is some definite psychological fault line running through the club. It seems almost a sacrilege to appear to question those that are determined to believe that the wheels are wobbling if not coming off but, at times, it really is that simple. There was no lack of effort or mental strength in either of the home games we have lost this season - we were the better team on both occasions though still not nearly as good enough as we need to be. Of course there`ve been and will be other games where we triumph despite being 2nd best.

To challenge to be champions we have to be able to rise above that dependency more often than our peers are able to do and we clearly aren`t doing that at present. We need to create clearer goal attempts and to finish those that we do create a little more clinically. It`s a fine line we tread at this level but we can still compete. We`ll learn through the rest of the season whether it`s enough to assuage our present frustrated expectations.

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Date:Monday November 8 2010
Time: 11:20AM


Wow... I sure as hell hope Arsene and the coaching staff don't take this approach and fail to address the flaws in the way we played on Saturday by simply putting it down to bad luck. And we weren't the better team really, we could string 3 passes together, so what if we had more chances, Newcastle were playing to beat us, score, let us have a lot of the ball but be disciplined enough to not let it penetrate them, which is what they did.
08/11/2010 11:45:00
Sorry Amos. I just don't buy the luck argument. I believe in the cliched saying that you make your own luck. By definition this means taking more chances and risks, something I don't see us doing much these days. By this I mean shooting when there is a clear sight of goal and good crossing into the box with people following the ball in expecting to win it. We are too deliberate in the way we play at times, and I believe this becomes predictable and easy to defend against. It may not be mental strength but it is a belief that any ball in the box is already halfway in the goal and needs to be helped in - be it the pretty or ugly way - a sweeping move or a bundle into the back of the net. They all count.
Wyn Mills
08/11/2010 11:49:00
Agree with shewore This had nothing to do with bad luck but simple fact we were crap
08/11/2010 11:49:00
Of course there are flaws to address as I point out. Doesn't mean you have to be entirely blind to what happened yesterday. Newcastle weren't the better team they were just the team that won. It's not that hard to be objective and at the same time still acknowledge the things they did well which helped them to win and take advantage of the fortune that come their way as we all need to do.
08/11/2010 11:50:00
Thing is, we played the "played badly and won" card against West Ham and Brum. Playing below par three home games on the spin is cause for concern. Ultimately, we might have gotten away with it again had we not given a stupid goal to Newcastle and made it harder for ourselves. That was really the only difference between yesterday and the West Ham game. I think Rosicky is a tremendous player, but I don't think he provides the penetration in the final third that Arshavin does. Rosicky will play a ball into a striker's feet with his back to gal, but he doesn't get behind defences- either with his dribbling or his passing- in the way Arshavin does.
Little Dutch
08/11/2010 12:14:00
We might have played badly, by our standards, and won against West Ham and Brum but we were still the better side on both occassions. We were also the better side yesterday but didn't win. I can't argue that Arshavin isn't more penetrative - he has more goals and assists - and more playing time than Rosicky but Rosicky still creates goal scoring attempts closer to the rate that Cesc does and gets through a lot of other work. My point is that, in games like yesterdays we probably need Cesc, Arshavin and Rosicky on the pitch - perhaps more than we needed Walcott for example.
08/11/2010 12:29:00
Appreciate the sentiment Amos, but I don't think we can roll out the bad luck excuse season after season. When we were going for the title during the season Eduardo got injured at B'ham, and when we got knocked out by Liverpool in the CL QF the same season, at the time I believed we'd been unlucky. But on the evidence of the seasons since it's becoming evident that there is something lacking in this crop of players that you can't put your finger on. It's probably a few minor factors rather than one big one. We certainly need to bring variety to our game and the way we attack and not try and complete a 20-pass move to score. I know there's been a debate here about whether it's our defensive frailties or attacking lack of ruthlessness that's at fault, but in my opinion you absolutely have to be solid defensively in order to win the major prizes, and that we have categorically been failing in for a long time now. By the way, I don't agree we were the better side against West Brom at home.
08/11/2010 12:51:00
The West Brom game was one that was more finely balanced than some other home games but we had more than 3 times as many goal attempts as they did and at least 3 good scoring opportunities before they scored. Arshavin hitting the post twice at one point. We also dominated possession almost 2 to 1. West Brom exceeded expectations and therefore the appraisal of their performance is bound to be judged on the result. Had the performances and result been reversed WB would have been deemed to have been the unlucky side and deserving of more from the game.
08/11/2010 13:11:00
I don't think it's the content of the article, more the timing of it. It comes across as sour grapes. Now I am not accusing you of that Amos, but after a couple of s****y performances, articles like this you will only give ammunition to opposition fans who want to shoot us down.
08/11/2010 13:28:00
Sod 'em LG. They'll want to shoot us down anyway. There aren't any opposition fans whose teams haven't been guilty of s****y performances of their own. I think it's healthy to attempt to take an objective view of performances no matter how soon after the game and whoever is upset by it. Bottom line is there is more to it than we were crap or lacked bottle. In some ways that's what makes football interesting - waiting for the inevitable car crash moments - we just need to have fewer of those than those we aspire to usurp do.
08/11/2010 13:49:00
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