If there's one thing I'll never understand it's a football fan.
I watched the game last night in a crowded bar in Dubai. At least I think I did. I can't remember a lot of it but I have a stinking headache and a mad craving for a full English breakfast as a souvenir of the messiness.
What I can remember though frustrates the living crap out of me.
Arsenal fans, screaming at their own players. Calling them shit, useless or wank. From what I could make out the screams were mostly aimed at Ramsey and Giroud.
You want to know which player gave the ball away the most yesterday? Jack Wilshere.
Who was the least involved player on the pitch? (in terms of contribution via passes, interceptions, tackles, headers, chances created or shots) Theo Walcott.
Who was the player standing around whilst spurs threaded simple passes right through the middle of our defence? Thomas Vermaelen. Twice.
Who gave away the most free kicks? Mikel Arteta.
None of the above players got anywhere near the abuse that Ramsey and Giroud did. I just can't get my head around it.
I also don't understand how so-called fans don't make an effort to understand the game for themselves. Or at least the way we play it.
Arsenal employ a possession-based style of football. To the layman that means we try to keep the ball more than our opponents.
That means sometimes we have to go from left to right or vice versa. It also means that not every pass we make can be forward.
If you're attempting to keep the ball and there are no forward passes on, then you go back and start again. Sometimes you have to play the way you're facing. And sometimes you're facing backwards.
I don't understand players being criticised for keeping possession rather than giving it away by attempting a pass where one isn't on.
Anyway, that's my rant for this morning. Or at least one of them. The second rant goes to my buddy who kept forcing me to drink Jagerbombs. On a school night! You BASTARD!!!!
Something else that happened last night was I may have finally become famous. Upon being introduced to a fellow fan, his reaction was "Are you that blogger?? Very interesting!"
I'm not going to lie it was always going to be down hill from there.
So onto the match itself.
Prior to kick-off much was made of Arsenal's need to keep Bale quiet, and also Arsene's quote about how we don't plan for anyone.
As it happened, apart from his goal I don't remember Bale doing much of anything? I wouldn't say we kept him quiet per se, but he certainly didn't run the show.
Now, before I get into a blow-by-blow uber-analysis of the game I'm going to issue a warning.
I THOUGHT ARSENAL WERE THE BETTER TEAM LAST NIGHT.
There. I've said it. I don't regret it. If you see things differently guess what? That's OK. Opinions are like arseholes, we've all got them. I don't mind if you disagree with me. I won't be offended. If you want to debate with me later that's cool too.
The reason I wanted to do the warning is that there are people who can't accept an opinion which is different to their own. Those are the people who may not want to read any further.
I genuinely thought the better team lost yesterday. Am I biased? Yes of course. Am I trying to look at it objectively? Yes again. The better team lost.
We started well. We created a couple of half chances and were it not for poor final balls or poor touches we could have been two up in the first 15 minutes.
Olivier Giroud looks to have lost a bit of confidence because when he was slid through early on he took too much time to pull the trigger, allowing Dawson to get in a block.
Theo raced away down the right and, in typical Theo fashion, opted to drill the ball across the box rather than looking up to see that the ball to the back post would have been a far better option. I must confess I get more and more frustrated with Walcott with each passing game. He has talent, he has pace. Combine the two and you get a pretty frightening guy to play against. But he just doesn't show up often enough. Yesterday he hid away. He wasn't up for the game and he didn't want the ball. How do I know? Because if you make a run towards a defender rather than away from him, you're pretty much asking not to be passed to. Now that Theo has signed his contract it seems he doesn't have to prove himself. That disappoints me greatly.
The first half looked like it would finish 0-0. Then two things happened. In fact two identical things happened twice. We were well on top when Thomas Vermaelen decided abandon his defensive duties twice in 5 minutes. Firstly allowing Bale to run off the back of him, then Lennon. The goals were as similar as they were frustrating to watch.
For Vermaelen this is beginning to become something of a regularity. Switching off at the wrong moment costs goals. Vermaelen switches off far too often. When paired with Koscielny we get away with it because he has the pace to get around and cover. But Mertesacker doesn't.
I've said before that there isn't any cohesion in defence. The players don't, or can't, get on the same wavelength. Nacho should have been screaming at Vermaelen to watch the run not the ball. Vermaelen should have been in line with the rest of defence and Szczesny should have been screaming at all of them to stay in line. None of that happened. As a result Spurs went two goals up when they should have been two down!
Second half was pretty much more of the same. Spurs didn't really threaten to score. Mertesacker pulled one back on 50 minutes, a goal which actually came of the Monkey's face before beating Lloris. I actually hope it goes down as an own goal on Bale. Partly because he's a cunt, but also just to remind him that he's not in the same league as Messi or Ronaldo - when was the last time either of those scored an own goal???
From then on we pressed higher and forced a lot of errors but we lacked the killer ball. The best chance fell to Ramsey (playing at full back by this point) who dragged it wide off the heel of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. some will argue Ramsey should have done better - honestly I'd agree, he should have taken the shot sooner, a player like Cazorla or Walcott probably would have but Ramsey isn't a striker, or a goal-scorer of any variety so knowing when to pull the trigger isn't something he's got in his locker.
Either way, yes he should have done better, no it does not mean he's shit!!!
There's an inherent problem at Arsenal when we're a goal down. We're too reserved with the ball. When most teams are chasing a game the hit longer shots and pump the ball into the box hoping for knockdowns, failed clearances or rebounds. It's not an exact science. We don't do this. We have players capable of hitting long shots - Cazorla, Arteta, Wilshere, Giroud, Podolski, Rosicky. All players who can score from outside the box. None of them even attempted it.
Why??? Why are we so frighteningly impotent outside the area?
If I was a professional footballer (and try to suspend your disbelief here) and my team were a goal down I'd be hitting shots from pretty much anywhere. All it takes is a deflection, or a save which isn't properly cleared and you're pretty much back in the game. I find it hard to believe that Arsene Wenger sends the players out with the instruction to not shoot;
"Good luck out zere tonight. And rememberrrr don't shoot until you get to ze 6-yard line"
"But boss, won't we have a better chance of winning if we shoot more?"
"Mikel, you leave ze sinking to me. I am ze managerrrrr, you are just ze playerrrrrrs. You will do as you are told, ozerwise you will be sent to play for Man City!!"It just doesn't make sense! But here's the thing, even if it was true, even if Wenger did give instructions not to shoot, surely there are players in the squad who are given a creative license to do the unexpected? Surely some players are allowed to pass left rather than right, play a chipped through ball rather than a ground pass? Shoot instead of pass? It seems not. It seems that there is only one way. Wenger's way.
Steve Bould was visibly pissed off at the amateur hour defending last night. He looked like he wanted to choke the life out of someone. And who could blame him. If the rumours are true about Bould's lack of involvement in team affairs, then I imagine he must be going crazy thinking what he could be doing to improve them.
I don't know whether Bould does or doesn't coach. I don't know whether he is or isn't allowed to have an input into the tactics or the way we set up. I don't know if we practice defending or not.
What I do know is that whatever it is we ARE doing, simply isn't working.
I'm not going to sit here and apportion blame for the poor results and the poor performances. There's nothing I can say that hasn't been said before. It's the board's fault, it's Wenger's fault, it's the players' fault, it's the coaches' fault, it's the fans' fault. All I know for sure is that it's SOMEONE'S FUCKING FAULT AND I WANT THEM TO OWN UP AND FUCK OFF OUT OF THE CLUB!!!
A summary of the game in numbers form comes from @7amkickoff and makes some interesting reading :-