1) There is no denying it. Arsenal’s attack was much better when we had Robin van Persie. Olivier Giroud was on the bench (why???), and Arsene Wenger decided to start with Gervinho up front and Aaron Ramsey on the right wing. Gervinho was all over the place. He has pace, but when he get through on goal I am never sure that he will finish. There was nobody who I really felt would step-up in front of goal in the way that RvP did. The most natural finisher is probably Lukas Podolski, but he always starts on the left wing. Ramsey did ok, but we would have been a lot more effective with a bit of pace from The Ox or Walcott had they been fit.
2) You can’t afford to gift Klaas Jan Huntelaar so many chances; he missed the first two, but he was bound to score at some point. Unfortunately, Arsenal’s dodgy defending (especially Andre Santos on the left-hand-side) meant that Schalke were hitting us on the counter-attack and getting lots of balls into the box. There was too much time and too much space because Santos was always out of position. Either he was too far back and playing people onside, or he was at the wrong end of the pitch all-together. With 10 minutes left Steve Bould took Jenkinson off and replaced him with Serge Gnabry. 3 at the back against the pace of Schalke was always asking for trouble, and we duly conceded the second goal. Kieran Gibbs is still out for the time being, which is pretty worrying – I don’t want Santos to play against Rooney and Rvp!!
3) Arsenal are no longer in the driving seat in their Champions League group. The next Champions League game in 2 weeks time is Schalke away, which now has added importance. If we lose to them again then we will be 4 points off the top of the group with 2 games left. That said, although finishing second in the group is never ideal, last season we finished top in the group and got drawn against AC Milan. It’s as much luck-based as anything.
4) Despite the poor team performance, some of the younger players did pretty well. I thought that Carl Jenkinson had a good game, although there is a limit to how much you can do without the help of your teammates. Jenko kept Afellay relatively quiet, with most of Schalkes chances coming on the side that Santos was supposed to be dealing with. He also worked the ball forward really well; it’s not his fault that Gervinho was having a bit of an off-game. Coquelin also played well alongside Arteta and Cazorla, but I was most impressed with Serge Gnabry, who came on as a substitute. He made some good runs down the right-hand-side, used a bit of skill, and had arguably Arsenal’s best shot of the game. A pretty good cameo performance on his Champions League debut.
5) There needs to be a serious response this weekend against QPR. If we lose (or even draw) on Saturday then we have no hope at Old Trafford a week later. That would be more points dropped and even less of a chance that we will make next season’s Champions League.