Brothers, sisters, let’s not shit ourselves. A time may come for filling our Fruit Of The Looms, but it is not now. Not yet, anyway. After the Villa game I cautioned that this run would come to an end eventually, and both players and fans would need to pick themselves up and get on with it. Obviously I’d rather my Delphine predictions (doomphine?) hadn’t transpired quite so swiftly, or against a pair of shitehawks like Barton & Hughes, but we weren’t at it today, deserved nothing and got nothing.
Understandably, after the game the boss was far from full of the joys…
“Our performance was not good enough to win this kind of game, especially in the duels. They had a little bit of extra special commitment that took advantage of us in some specific positions defensively. Overall we can only congratulate QPR for their attitude and be unhappy with our own performance”
The absence of cup competitions to clog up the diary means we can’t blame tiredness. Perhaps an element of complacency was to blame, because on the face of it this fixture didn’t look as daunting as others we’ve overcome recently. We’ve certainly got previous when it comes to turning up at promoted sides, expecting to knock them over easily, and then being surprised when they actually want to make a match of it.
Or maybe, just maybe, there isn’t any point looking to blame anyone/thing at all.
Fact is, during the seven-game winning streak we rode our luck at times, played well in patches and looked a little shaky in others. Just as it was an overreaction during the extended horrorshow that was January to think that the team should be dismantled and sold for spare organs, so it was also an overestimation to think recent results meant we were suddenly world-beating supermen.
Once again I was watching on jerk-o-vision, so don’t feel best-placed (or particularly in the mood) to pick the bones out of the performance. Vermaelen had a game to forget. Robin seems tired and, with the team failing to click or play with any sort of tempo for much of the match, looked isolated. And the Ramsey selection, which Arsene seems to like for solidity’s sake in away games, didn’t pay off this time. If we’re looking to stiffen things up, I wonder if playing Santos in front of Gibbs in the wide left channel might be a better option?
[One moan: I’d be really, really keen to see subs made on something other than the 68 minute mark. How much easier for the opposition manager must it make it to be able to predict our changes so precisely?]
It’s churlish to get too critical after the results we’ve had. I’m disappointed tonight but there’s still plenty of football to be played. Arsene’s words of caution before the game sound particularly prophetic too:
"What we can hope for is to be third. We can be fourth, we can be fifth, we can be sixth - we want to be as high as possible and that depends on our consistency now."
He’s right to be cautious. Nothing’s guaranteed and there are enough games left that our fortunes could change fast. What I think we’ve seen is that this team functions so much better when playing high-tempo, high-pressure football. For whatever reason we didn’t see much of that today and paid the price for sloppy mistakes. The Man City match looks massive, so let’s hope the team bounces back with a bit more fight.
Otherwise it might be rubber undercracker time.
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