|16 Sep||7:45 PM||CL||Standard Liege (A)||3||2||Win|
In the two defeats against Manchester City and Manchester United we really only have ourselves to blame. Look at the goals against United. A penalty given away by a keeper who I have never been convinced of since the 2006 Champions League final. The second was an inexplicable freak own goal by Diaby. Before that United hadn't had a sniff at goal.
It was the same thing with City. Although they created more chances than United, only our individual mistakes gave them the win. It was exactly the same against Liege. Straight from the kick-off the Belgian side had an enthusiasm and determination only matched by their crowd.
Their reward was to score after two minutes through a Mangala volley. Yet was it really deserved? Any team can run around and pressure players in front of a noisy crowd. The goal didn't come from that though. The goal came from Eduardo failing to clear the ball, and instead tried a fancy flick just outside the 18-yard box. This was no young gun. This was an experienced international, so hold those of you who are quick to blame any mistakes on the young players.
The second goal was again down to a mistake by an experienced player. Whether you think the penalty was rightly given doesn't matter. There was no real danger, nothing we couldn't deal with but William Gallas, another experienced international, was to blame.
Now this where me opinion and many others differ. I think it's a good sign that the mistakes were all Liege really had at scoring. Through the whole game they didn't have clear-cut chance to score, only a few measly strikes from outside the box. My point is that when we cut out the mistakes, what do the other teams do? Every team we've played has had to rely on our mistakes to score and that is a dangerous way to play.
Now I don't say we will keep making mistakes every game and they will be punished. Players make mistakes every game, but not like the ones we've seen against Liege and the Manchester teams. I seriously doubt Abou Diaby will score an own goal like that again. I seriously doubt Eduardo will try that flick again, or anything similar to it.
Another great thing that struck me against Liege was the maturity, patience and intelligence of the Arsenal players. Many on the site have been criticising Francesc Fabregas for being lazy and uninspired. Maybe he was playing a controlled game. Saving energy while Liege wasted theirs.
There is only so much chasing and pressing a team can do before they slip-up mentally or physically. That's exactly what happened on the 45th minute mark. A great run by Emmanuel Eboue led to him slipping a through ball to Nicklas Bendther whose defender allowed him to much time and space. Bendther managed to hit the ball through the keepers legs. The goal came from consistent movement and interchange of the ball, wearing down the Liege players physically and mentally.
Now it might sound like a contradiction for Arsenal to wait for the other team to make a mistake, but here is where the difference lies. Arsenal force the opposition to make mistakes. It's not like Liege passed the ball around well waiting for us to make a mistake. They charged forward in front of their noisy crowd and got lucky. Manchester United certainly got lucky against us.
The second half of the Liege game started off in similar fashion as the first. Apart from another Arsenal mistake, which nearly resulted in a goal, we dominated.
It wasn't until the 76th minute when Fabregas finally hit a good free kick did Arsenal finally equalise. Now I have defended Fabregas' overall play from people who think they know his mental state or even his game. However, the Spaniard only hit one good free kick.
The goal itself was lucky but the result was still the same. Fabregas' free-kick to the back post fell to Song in an offside position. He managed to squirm the ball (under suspicions of handball) to Thomas Vermaelen who put the ball away.
All momentum was with Arsenal at this point and we nearly took the lead after Fabregas slipped a ball to Eduardo put the keeper made a great save. Eduardo was not to be denied, and from a corner the ball somehow found it was to him on the 6 yard box and he made no mistake about finishing.
So we had come from two goals down to win and still didn't get the plaudits, yet Liege who threw away a two goal lead got praised. The commentator said Liege were playing fantastically and wouldn't be surprised if they won by 5 goals.
Why? They didn't create anything. They certainly didn't play well. They just defended and got lucky. Arsenal on the other hand tried to play football. For 90 minutes we passed and moved, did the right things and got criticised. By doing the right things we will force any team into making mistakes. The teams we faced didn't do the right things. We did the wrong things. If we can eradicate these I truly believe we will then be strong title contenders.
Now there might be some doom and gloom around Arsenal and their title hopes at the moment but let's look at the competition. Chelsea cannot sign anybody until 2011. With the African Nations Cup coming up, alongside their ageing squad, injuries and depletion will determine how well they fare. Here's a thought. What if Anelka gets injured while Drogba is away? They can't sign anyone. Manchester and Liverpool are in the same boat. We've proved we can cope without Fabregas, or Andrey Arshavin, or Robin van Persie. They haven't proved they can cope without Rooney, or Torres or Gerrard. Liverpool will falter with both of them playing anyway.
That just leaves City. I can't actually judge how they will fare this season. It's too early to tell. I am not trying to rely on injuries for Arsenal to succeed but to point out clubs are in a worse position than we are. All I ask is to have some faith in the team and the manager. Trust in the team and I have no doubt we can win the league if we cut out our mistakes.
© 2000-2013 Arsenal Mania. All rights reserved. Page processed in 0.12 seconds.