As last night’s events begin to sink I still can’t shake that it felt like it was a defeat. We’ve failed to break down a Manchester United rearguard that has been laughable throughout this season. We had an opportunity to go back top and capitalise on Chelsea’s late slip at West Brom and we failed to take advantage. I’m not sure the hunger and desire that we were promised after Saturday’s embarrassment was evident. There was talk from Wenger regarding nerves but I’m sorry, what is there to be nervous about? We got battered on Saturday but that was a fluke, a one-off if you like (despite it happening at The Etihad as well), I’m sorry nerves shouldn’t be used a reason why we failed to win a game that would have given use huge momentum with a favourable run of league games upcoming. It was a massive chance missed.
Ozil has taken far too much stick over the last few days but last night he should have been the difference maker but sadly the supporting cast failed to attend (Cazorla excluded). It was good to see him orchestrating our attacks but players seem too eager to drop deep and not make the killer run and draw players out of position. This is after all what Wenger’s teams from our successful years were the masters of. Gary Neville once said that Ferguson advised that our movement was that good that their players elected to stand still and play more of a zonal defence because they just got ripped to pieces in a 1v1 situation. Ozil showed up last night and a lot of other didn’t.
The player who is attracting the most attention for his poor performance last night is Olivier Giroud. He was poor; he had chances to score and failed to convert. Crucial chances have to be taken in such games but unfortunately for us we lacked that killer instinct. Giroud is suffering from a dip in confidence and when that happens to a striker who isn’t world class that leaves us in a dark place. Is he the next Emirates victim? He hasn’t scored at The Emirates in the Premier League since 23rd November. That’s quite a bad run of form. That said I was under no illusions that Giroud wouldn’t suffer a dip in form, after all that is why there should be reinforcements as a summer and winter transfer window continues to look like a huge mistake. I wasn’t overly convinced Higuain would have taken us to the next level, as his own record in big games for Madrid was questionable. That said he has movement and the eye for goal that we are craving. It’s worth considering he would have cost the equivalent of a proposed fee for Draxler.
Despite Giroud’s woeful night, I don’t have him top of the list in terms of poor performance. Jack Wilshere takes that honour. Jack seems to play the game as if it’s a 5aside game. You cannot be that wasteful in possession, you cannot run down blind alleys and just be generally reckless. I’m getting a bit tired of him lying on the deck as well. Our attacks seem like they are at a premium at present, so when we are getting stopped at source, that becomes a huge issue. If I were Wenger I’d be considering playing Tomas Rosicky in his position. Rosicky himself is about as much use to going forward as Clive Allen was for us. Ozil put one on a plate for the Czech last night and he elected to control, double back and pass. It was a position that Robert Pires would arch a curler into top corner after taking it first time. I mention Pires because it was he that was replaced by the fan favourite Rosicky. Everyone talks about the tempo Rosicky adds and I agree, I just expect more from an attacker, like goals and assists but it just seems that this move would be a good fit. What do you think? He did play there against Fulham at Craven Cottage in a nice 3-1 win. A game in which we played without a recognised DM, which is also a point worth considering as we seem to have welcomed Denilson back into the side. So there's plenty of food for thought.
As a result of our several failings you can’t help but discuss Wenger’s involvement in this. Managers live and die by their team talks and substitutions. The latter, well that’s just pathetic. One sub? In which a player that came to life recently in centre midfield is shunted out to the right winger because he has erm, pace. You have a German International sitting there, get him on the left wing and take a punt. There is no guarantee these changes would work but at least show the intention to win the game. This is the second of what you’d call big games when Wenger hasn’t utilised his bench, the other being Chelsea. Is Wenger not learning his own lessons here? Yes, we are one point off top, it’s not the end of the world but at some point, you need to reclaim top spot and with an extremely tricky March upon us, it just felt that we let this game and opportunity get away from us. Away sides are more than happy with a point; any of the top four managers would take a point before an away game of such importance. At present we are just the kings of the 0-0 HT draw. As I mentioned on Sunday, the last time we led at HT in a league was in December against Hull. We don’t appear to have any game management, particularly when a side lacks a killer instinct. I would even reason with subs like Bendtner for Giroud, you know, trying something a little different. We seemed to forget that lofting crosses into the box is exactly what Vidic wants. What he doesn’t like is balls in behind and getting turned. Sagna put in one peach of a pass late on but Giroud couldn’t convert. The big game bottlers stigma remains with us and I doubt we can shake it off this season although three wins at Sp*rs, Chelsea and Man City would blow that out of the water, but let’s be honest, that’s not realistic.
Wenger needs to fix this disjointed side. We have one of the top playmakers in world football but he needs players that have the desire and ability to score. Only Santi Cazorla seemed willing to support the German last night and if we continue to shun attacking responsibility then we will continue to fire blanks. Let’s just hope this side can find its spark in the cup competitions and give us a timely boost ahead of the turning in to the final straight.