Hours before kickoff, I received an unexpected email from a buddy who writes for an Italian sport website. He requested I help cover a SerieA game between Empoli and AC Milan, because it’s his relationship anniversary and you don’t want to miss that over a boring match report that people don’t give two fledgling f!*ks about.
So yes, last night I was required to do the following: Monitor a SerieA live blog for an anonymous website using Tor browser, Tweet, side draft a match report on the same game, and then an opinion article on Fernando Torres’s overall performance for Milan.
But ofcourse, Arsenal welcomed Southampton in the League Cup and aside it being mandatory to watch as a fan, you must because then, just then, MisterSpruce and the enigmatic Editor would request for an aftermath article and failing to do so attracts 10,000 words on why you didn’t.
Plus you get to write a blog post on the NLD during the weekend. It’s a daunting task.
The second stage of your punishment requires you to watch the game from the back of your TV, with the voice commentary the only tool to write. The remaining five stages, I won’t bother you about.
I had to scrutinize both games simultaneously, though paid more attention to the Milan encounter.
With Sanchez, Campbell and Podolski all starting, I was thrilled to watch the trio work in tandem to cause mayhem, at least to my assumption.
Podolski has been one of my favorite players ever since he joined from Cologne. When his name comes up nowadays, it’s reminiscent of that World-class volley against Montellipier in the Champions League. Viable options in the final third have seen him rooted to the bench. The Capital One Cup provides that platform for game time alongside Campbell who had a beasty tournament in Brazil.
With Rosicky, Wilshere and Diaby in the Midfield, I envisaged a balanced unit comprising of experienced individuals capable immense creativity.
However, I felt uncomfortable with the lads entrusted with the defensive duties. While the senior players including Mertesacker and Koscienly have barely shown promise this season, citing the recurring set piece predicament, would the inexperienced lads do any better? Ofcourse not I presumed. Calamity waiting to happen I mused.
David Ospina got his debut and we had the first initiative when Tomas Rosicky’s header was saved. Few minutes later, a dare attempt sent the Emirates to raptures.
Alexis Sanchez right footed freekick made its way to the top left corner that even Forster admired. It was an incredible goal that is worth every penny we spent on the player.
After we drew first blood, I hoped we wouldn’t relax and try to get a second like in Villa during the weekend. We had players capable of that feat.
Instead Rosicky gave away a stupid foul in the box that doesn’t correlate with the player he is. Tadic converted to make the scores even.
At that moment you would expect the experienced players to step up to the plate and find a decisive goal before the break, however nothing productive was happened.
Infact Podolski upfront was a static player on the night. Maybe we have been too critical of Wenger’s tactical decisions, but a display like this from the German showed why the manager is reluctant for his services in obvious situations.
From a set piece, Bellerini cleared, and then Clyne, from 30yards, had the time of his life to position and unleash a rocket that was too good for Ospina. It was a good goal. In painful circumstances, you give credit where it’s due.
From a comfortable lead to chasing the game, the hair-dryer treatment was pressing in the dressing room at halftime.
It was close to game over in the second half when Steven Davis’s right footed shot was saved by Ospina. There was no slacking from the Colombian stopper. Moments later, he was in pole position to deny Tragic(d) a second goal from a shot just outside the box.
At the other end, it was well, sh*t. Aside Diaby’s left footed effort that was blocked by a resilient Southampton defense. Change was imminent and he was soon withdrawn for the diminutive Cazorla, while Oxlade Chamberlain replaced the awful Campbell momentarily.
The last 10 minutes was garnished with Koeman’s disciples frustrating any sort of redemption by us, slowing the tempo of the game with the obvious time wasting antics perfected by ‘’smaller teams’’ like them, Chelsea, among others. 😉
Afterwards Wenger suggested:
‘’It’s disappointing because we had a good start and we made two unneeded errors on the two goals- and big ones.
“We lacked a bit of experience in the back but overall they did well. We gave a lot and it’s frustrating not to be able to score in the second half.”
“When you look at the amount of possession we had, we have to give credit Southampton, they played well and were very organized.
If there is one man that ought to be frustrated on the eventual outcome, it’s the manager. The players that were expected to prove a point or two to the boss in a bid for more game time literally squandered a big opportunity. Collectively, it was lackluster, mundane and bullsh*ttery.
The striking question is when it’s inevitable we need a plan B? Are we going to call on players that failed to deliver on the day they were the plan A? The snake has swallowed the pig. Literally.
The criticism of ‘we don’t have the sufficient defenders’ for a whole season has died down a bit after the game. The young lads have shown they can be called upon when needed but experience is a factor, and am not really a fan of “thrusting” 19-year olds that aren’t fully ready to the demands of the League, FA Cup and Champions League.
The NLD is in the horizon slated for the weekend, and a win should rub us off a forgettable League Cup exit.
David Ospina- Busy between the sticks, kept us in the game for a lengthy period even though should have done better for Clyne’s goal 6/10
Coquelin- Despite being out for a long time, he slotted proficiently in the left back position 5/10
Bellerini- Played Ok 5/10
Chambers- A fair performance against his former club. 5/10
Hayden- Did some defensive work 5/10
Wilshere- For a player criticized by his fellow countrymen, Wilshere isn’t looking back 5/10
Campbell- Ostensibly gave Wenger 500 reasons in Greek why his future at Arsenal is hanging on a noose 3/10
Rosicky- A night to forget for the little Mozart. Reallywhat does Mozart mean? 3/10
Abou Diaby- Heard the boss wants to give him the anchor man berth, certainly a contender. Welcome back Abou 5/10
Sanchez- Scored a stunning freekick and his work rate, meh 6/10
Podolski- Disappointing 3/10
Akpom- He played? 1/10