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Still Paying the Price for the International Break
There’s really no sense in dwelling on this match. Sunderland is a solid side this season that drew at United and beat Liverpool. Almost our entire side had been away from the club for two weeks on plane trips and playing in meaningless matches. “But the international breaks didn’t affect Chelsea or United or Spurs,” you will say. And I would say that you are right, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t affect us. There are no excuses for losing the match but there are reasons.
Apparently, Arsenal’s title hopes are once again dashed, according to many. As of right now, this is just one disappointing result. It’s not the end of the season. But it does raise some serious questions. Was this performance indicative of how the team will perform without van Persie? That is the big question.
I tend to lean towards thinking not, but I am an one of those optimists when it comes to the Arsenal. I can’t see the side all of a sudden going from scoring 3 or 4 goals per match to struggling to score simply because van Persie has been removed from the equation and especially with Cesc, Arshavin, Eduardo, Rosicky, Nasri, etc… still on the pitch. It was a nasty day against an insurgent club on the Saturday following yet another two-week/two-match international break. Of course, despite those conditions, we still need to be able to get results.
Despite falling 8 points behind Chelsea (5 if we win our game in hand), we did control most of the game even if Sunderland did work harder against us in midfield than almost any other side we’ve played all season. Sunderland’s goal came off of a fluke bounce, though the bounce came after we failed to deal with a set piece, yet again. Aaron Ramsey failed to replicate his international form and Traore didn’t look altogether solid at left-back.
Another bright spot for me was the introduction of Carlos Vela. Arsenal looked more dangerous after he came on and if Eduardo cannot get it together, I now feel the Boss would not hesitate to use Vela more than he has in the past, having said openly that Vela is the reason Adebayor could be sold and not replaced. The return of Theo Walcott was another bright spot on an otherwise dismal Saturday afternoon.
Arsenal have shown themselves capable of picking themselves up from disappointing performances and getting back on track quickly. Following the Manchester defeats, we put together a 13-match unbeaten run which included 6 wins out of 7 in the Premier League. We have dealt with adversity well this season and we will now need to do it again.
In other news, Stan Kroenke has bought ten more shares and is now a mere 62 away from being obligated to launch a takeover bid. In other interesting news, Man City drew their sixth consecutive match and have won just one in their last eight, keeping only one clean sheet in that time, a nil-nil draw at Birmingham. Kolo Toure seems to have caught whatever disease it is that Adebayor has that keeps making him talk about Arsenal, saying:
I had problems with certain players at Arsenal, especially one, whose name I will not say because I don’t want to feed the controversy. I didn’t have much time on the pitch last year because I think there’s a player who got the manager believing that he and I had no understanding on the field. That did surprise me hugely.
I have never looked to put a spoke in anyone’s wheel at all. I have never wanted to be captain. My wish was to finish my career at Arsenal, but there are always banana-skins.
Don’t want to feed “the” controversy? That hasn’t been a controversy for anyone but Kolo since last season. It’s amazing how both he and Adebayor are living in the past, seemingly with Arsenal constantly on their minds. No wonder they can’t win matches or keep clean sheets. I don’t think that Arsene Wenger needed William Gallas to tell him that there was no understanding between him and Gallas, or “he-who-shall-not-be-named.” Every Arsenal fan has “believed” that for years. There WAS no understanding.
Anyway, seeing as how I don’t want to dwell on our first lackluster match in a while and we have a fairly unimportant CL fixture standing between us and Chelsea, I’ll have to leave it there, for now.