By Walter Broeckx
December 11 always has been a special day for me. There are two anniversaries that I can celebrate on that day and one of them is that on this day Arsenal played for the first time an official game of football. Yesterday my party was ruined by Arsenal. Oh well that is how things go sometimes.
Let me start with some statistics. Arsenal had a total of 28 shots on goal. Bradford 5. So anyone who wants to suggest that we made no effort is wrong. It was Arsenal who attacked during the whole game. Bradford defended (successfully)
Possession Arsenal 63% and Bradford 37%. Anyone who wants to say that Bradford outplayed us didn’t see the game.
The tactics from Bradford were clear: defend and try to hurt us with a long hoofed ball. A tactic that made us restart from our penalty area and so they could reorganise themselves to try to defend the next attack. Because of their early goal it was a tactic they could use for the whole game and that brought them success. Each team plays to its strength and so did Bradford and they got away with it at the end.
I don’t think Bradford won the game (well it was a draw in fact) but it was more a case of Arsenal not being able to win the game. I think we have beaten ourselves on this day.
We had 28 shots on goal only resulting in one goal. For those wondering: I didn’t count them myself but got this from the BBC website. But that will be close to an all time low I think. Maybe an idea for Josh James at Arsenal.com who does the stats to have a look at that? And maybe more telling the goal in the end came from a defender.
I think apart from Mertesacker each outfield player from Arsenal got a chance to score a goal yesterday. This is good and bad at the same time. It is good because it means that we created enough chances to score goals. And creating chances is important in football. But what is truly bad and awful is that we just couldn’t put the ball in the net. I think we had enough chances to score 4 or 5 goals in this game. Just to name a few: Coquelin, Vermaelen, Gervinho, Wilshere, Cazorla, Chamakh, Oxlade-Chamberlain, all should have done better with the chances they got presented during the game. If they would have finished the chances we would be in the semi final.
What also was very disappointing in this game was the crosses we tried to produce. We couldn’t find the correct length in our crosses. I noticed the Bradford pitch was a lot smaller than the Emirates pitch and as a result a lot of our crosses went harmlessly wide and high above heads in front of goal. And because of the crowded defence the low crosses couldn’t find an Arsenal player also.
And I do think that is where we lost the game: our bad finishing and our bad crossing. In a way this hasn’t a lot to do with Bradford. This was our failure. Maybe it was no real surprise that our finishing was so shockingly bad because our two top scorers from this season were missing. Apparently we do need Giroud and Walcott for the moment to get some goals. I think we have too many creators and too few finishers for the moment.
I think defensively we were ok. When you only have to concede 5 shots in 120 minutes you could say that they didn’t get many chances. Apart from the goal I can only remember one really dangerous attack just before half time from Bradford.
The problem for Arsenal seems to be that whenever they play a good game, they suddenly stumble in the next game. Consistency is needed but for the moment we can’t seem find it. It is 3 steps forward, followed by two steps backwards. Like the old procession of Echternach up to 1947. Look it up on Wikipedia if you are really interested.
For the moment we never know which Arsenal will turn up. Will it be the Arsenal that plays good football and can score goals or the Arsenal that sometimes is a shadow of that team and can hardly create a chance. And in fact looking at the stats from yesterday we found even an Arsenal in between those two. Creating enough chances but not scoring them.
The problem we face now is that in the league in the next month we have to find some kind of consistency. We need to pick up points now. So we need players who can score goals for us. So we should hope that Giroud and Walcott are back next week.
But maybe this result was us hitting the ground after sliding down the hill. Maybe this result will have the same impact as our defeat at United last season. Maybe the board will now realise that now is the time to act and to show us what they want. Just lying down at the bottom of the pit and do nothing? Or act in January and repair the damage?
A little bird has told me that the club will do everything they can to put things right and get back on track. I believe the bird. I think we might see changes next month. One good goal scorer is what we need most of all. And depending on the Walcott situation another winger. But most of all we need to put the ball in the net from our chances. I think even Wenger acknowledged this after the game. Playing 5 strikers and not scoring a goal is terrible.
I do hope the little bird is right. But I trust the little bird.
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