So where we are? Well 12 points off the top of the league and in 6th place! No this isn’t good but we are only 11 games in and there is more of the season left than has gone. Awarding the chavs the title and assuming we are fighting for our 4th place trophy is a bit proleptic.
Why are we only here and not up there? Inconsistency is the obvious answer but is that inconsistency on or off the pitch? On the pitch the all too familiar story of injuries and enforced changes as meant that we haven’t fielded the same side two games running all season. Hardly a recipe for consistency. The injuries are not as some might have you believe the fault of the training routines, management incompetence or the grass they play on.Sure Özil could have been subbed when he first tweaked his knee but he picked up the injury away on the chavs pitch and came from an innocuous pass; just one of those things! Same with Giroud; his ankle break was also one of those things, closing down a play deep into the game on Everton’s pitch!
So why always us? I really don’t think there is a definitive answer. I know saying that it’s one of those things is lame but it is just as good as blaming the grass or bad luck or it’s all Wenger’s fault.
I am sure that the player analytics and the medical review will look into every aspect of each and every injury. This won’t change the simple fact that we have key players injured and this has meant that we are unable to field the same side week in week out. Even if we were they would eventually succumb to fatigue and potential injury. Therefore we need the squad to be consistent. You could argue that they are consistent in being consistently below the standards we expect!
What’s the problem? The errors made by individuals. The errors made by the collective is less obvious, but nevertheless there to be seen when you combine the individual errors throughout the playing and coaching staff.
For me these boil down to four main errors by individuals, and are only resolved by reaffirming the collective.
Conceding possession at a point in the game that is unnecessary. That throw-in at Dortmund away. Sanchez on the half way line at Chelsea. These individual errors have been significant to leading to us conceding a goal. You could argue that this will always be the case, however, there have been too many this season that the opposition have had to create less individual brilliance themselves and been gifted opportunity by our individual errors instead.
Chasing a winning game. The players’ tactical naïvety on too many occasions where we have got ourselves in a position of leading a game then… boom we implode. Ramsey bombing forward against Anderlecht and Swansea are the latest in a plethora of such events. These are as a consequence of the individual acting impetuously themselves not managing the risk as well as a lack of leadership; which appears at number three on this list.
Lack of leadership. No one individual is taking the responsibility of leading on the pitch. This isn’t just the captains role but it is a significant issue that our captain and our vice captain are not natural leaders. The remaining individuals try to lead by example but not by command and direction of others. This was clearly evident against Anderlecht when we lost our composure and needed someone, anyone, to lead; to demand defensive action and enforce team discipline.
Substitutions. The effect a well timed substitution can have on a game is well known. Swansea’s Gomis first touch on Sunday proves that. However had we reacted to either supporting or subbing Chambers then Montero would never have been allowed to run him ragged. This is also a consistent theme this season. The delay to reacting to player failings/weakness or pattern of play that is causing issues hasn’t been addressed by the coach. Wenger’s individual error in not acting soon enough to preventing a weakness becoming over exploited to the point of conceding has been all too obvious.
So while all these are particular individual errors, together they point to a team that is becoming dysfunctional. No one individual should be sorted out for blame, as the twitter mob would have you react to. Blame Wenger. Blame Ramsey. Blame Chambers. The blame game won’t change a damn thing.
The team needs to come together. The individual errors need to be reviewed and action taken to prevent them reoccurring at such a consistent rate.
If only one thing has to change it is the impact that leadership can bring to the side. The natural leaders need to take both individual and collective responsibility for holding the team together at all points of the game but most definitely at the points of the game where protecting what you have gained becomes the most important aspect of achieving success. The leadership from the coach needs to react to the effect that an individual who isn’t playing for the team is causing the team to be exposed to their individualism and the errors that occur from their lack of focus.
One-nil-to-the-Arsenal for the next 5 games will be good enough for all of us and all of them.
I’d quite happily sacrifice devastating forward assault for cautious counter attacks with a stolid defence.
Finally the team needs a consistent fan base and at this time of writing we are far from consistent in our support but too consistent in looking for someone to blame.
Our inconsistency is the same as the teams’ inconsistency.We all need to focus on being a little more consistent!!
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