It’s hard to be philosophical in defeat, even if the opposition included a Sokratis (Socrates, Sokratis, Tomato, Tomato…..oh never mind), but today is that day. An appalling run away in the Premier League to the Sky 6, since December 2013, as their graphic showed us (with some glee I thought), means we’ve now gone 29 games without a win, just 9 draws, and 20 defeats. This is a losing mentality that we will change based on today’s performance. If…..yes, if…..
The Big If, is whether we can score. Tosun was dropped to the bench today, his replacement in the striker’s berth was Calvert-Lewin who seemed shocked at being onside within the first two minutes, and fluffed his lines. One suspects he wished the flag had gone up. I can’t help but wonder if Tosun would have scored that, but I can wonder away to my heart’s content, it won’t change the outcome. The reality is we had as many shots on goal as Arsenal, and arguably better gilt-edged chances, only for a sloppy 3 minutes for us to concede two, and that was it, game over. But surely, yes surely, the moans on Social Media which have prompted this early publication of Obstructed View, a post usually reserved for the following day and after a bit of reflection, are misplaced. Thankfully, there’s some balance out there too, and based on my self-selecting Twitter-base, the latter appear to be in the majority. No, not a time for happy clapping, but that was as good a performance as we’ve delivered all season, certainly for the first hour, and there are more positives to come from it, as well as the large negative hole that is the striker conundrum.
Let’s look at those positives. Digne, once we’ve worked out how to pronounce his name (‘Dean’? ‘Dean-yer’? Dig-knee (seriously shouted in the UG last week), I think he’ll be a big fan favourite. He’s a stout defender, comfortable crossing with either foot, and deliver a mean set piece, and frankly I’d have him on all of them at the moment as Gylfi is having an off phase. Keane, looking today like a cross between Ena Sharples (google it kids) and Tony Adams, and thankfully playing much more like the latter not the former. A brave performance too, although somewhat mystifying why he was penalised when Cech nearly punched his head off, let alone his hat. Zouma, solid, but needs more convincing. Kenny, I thought did ok, especially as Arsenal overloaded him at times; and remember Aubameyang was once touted as the next big thing, and Kenny wasn’t overawed by him today. Kenny gets better every time he plays, and I don’t think Seamus should be a shoe-in on return to fitness, but he probably will be. Gueye alarmed every Blue with his tug on Lacazette (stop sniggering at the back) in the box (I said stop!), but apart from that, I thought he played much more like his old self. Davies decent today, but will probably be blamed for the escalating crisis in the Middle East let alone today’s defeat – great energy, a couple of over ambitious and failed passes, but ok. Richarlison easily our best player, and with a bit more confidence at aiming his first half shot wide of Cech, then maybe a goal would have ensued; his work-rate was exceptional, as well as his ability on the ball. Not such good crossing though. Walcott – ok, good in parts.
Keane looks gutted at missing a late chance…..
Today showed DCL’s lack of maturity and composure, which is a shame. He doesn’t do as well when he’s got time to think about what he’s going to do, and his early chance was ample evidence of that. Personally I’d have stuck with Tosun. He’s our main striker, all strikers have dodgy spells, Kane for example, and you don’t get out of them by sitting on the bench. He will come good, he’s a good striker, not sure how many he’ll bag a season, and I’ve said before he looks more like a 10-12 a season not 20+, but he is what we’ve got, and I want to see him on the pitch. DCL an option off the bench I think.
Sigurdsson today was not great. Poor would be unkind, but his set piece delivery worries me most. I just assume it’s always going to hit the wall, and invariably it does, not sure what the problem is. Is it the system? Pressure to succeed now Rooney has gone? There are flashes that show we’ve got a player there, but he’s not doing as much as I’d have expected.
I’s like to see Bernard now push for a starting berth, maybe at Sigurdsson’s expense, although I’m assuming he was bought as a wide player, not a no10. We’ve seen enough in about an hour on the pitch in the last two games to know we’ve got a player with a decent work-rate and defensive capability, and I think he offers something different going forward. Would opponents fear Bernard, Tosun, Walcott, Richarlison more than Gylfi, DCL, Theo and Richy? I think I know, but a team is more than just the capabilities of individual players, so maybe as a four, today’s is expected to be better, but I doubt it.
One side note. Against Arsenal and West Ham, we looked defeated long before the final whistle. What is it that we’re lacking to continue the fight to the end? Other Club’s can be 2 goals adrift but still look capable of pulling it back. Not us at the moment.
We’ve had a setback in the capitol, again, today, and I’d like to see heads lift in time for next Saturday, which assumes even more significance if we are to avoid a worrying decline. No one normal, I said ‘normal’, expected everything to come right from Day 1 so Marco has time from me, and I hope from you too dear reader (if you’ve got this far and haven’t cleared off to do something more important like clean out the budgie’s cage), but a win along a bumpy road would be a whole load better than another loss or a scrappy draw. If we play like we did today, and bury the chances, a win is what we should get.