After a disappointing few weeks, I had hoped that a two week international break would have a calming influence on the squad. Morale was low and injuries were mounting. Surely a bit of a rest from club football could do nothing but good?
Arsenal started the match at a quick tempo, and it wasn’t long before a series of chances were created. Theo’s pace kept causing problems, but the goal did not come. The match faded as we reached half time. Each player had provided moments of magic, but the finishing was poor.
The second half was much of the same, interspersed with time wasting by the opposition. They clearly wanted to hold on to the scoreline, but this cheating tactic occurs far too often at the Emirates and must be stopped. Perhaps a rule whereby, if the opposition fail to restart play within a certain timeframe, they must forfeit possession. After seeing this tactic in so many games this season, it is clear that time wasting is an issue that needs to be solved.
But that isn’t an excuse for today’s result. Arsenal weren’t at their best, but should have won. Chances came in batches, including a period of play when Chamakh had a shot blocked by a diving heading, RVP and Chamakh had excellent aerial opportunities and a couple of through balls were intercepted right at the last moment. Our finishing was woeful, which is odd when you consider that Fabregas, RVP, Chamakh and Bendtner were on the pitch at the final whistle. All of these players have decent scoring records, and the first three were certainly guilty of missing a few sitters.
On a day when Man Utd came back from 2-0 down to win, not much seemed to go Arsenal’s way today. On the bright side, we didn’t lose, and both Chelsea and Spurs recorded draws. Spurs are at risk of failing to secure a Champions League spot, which will hopefully shut their fans up. I still believe Chelsea have a good chance of finishing above Arsenal, especially if we continue to perform like we did today.
Is the title out of our grasp?
Mathematically, Arsenal can still win the league. With eight games to go, Arsenal have to make up a seven point gap (with Utd having played one more). However, it is no longer in our hands. Before today, 9 wins from 9 games would bring the Premier League trophy to Ashburton Grove. As it stands, even if Arsenal beat Utd (which is doubtful given our record against them), we may still not win the league.
Man Utd have 7 games to go. Two of them are against Arsenal and Chelsea. Should they lose both games, then the title will be back up for grabs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal were gifted such an opportunity and failed to win the league in such a situation. Too many times this season, Arsenal have given reason for optimism, before lackustre performances which attracts criticism relating to Arsenal’s ‘inability to win silverware’.
Why is it that Sir Alex’s team can play so poorly against the Hammers, but win? Why can Arsenal dominate games but fail to secure the points? Is it tactical or is it a mental problem? Or are Arsenal simply not good enough?
There has to be some problem with the tactics, insofar as there is a seriously lack of flexibility on Wenger’s part. He refuses to change the style of play, or switch formations. Sagna put in crosses throughout the match, and a few did create great chances. But the majority were blocked without a problem. Blackburn’s aerial ability is clear, so why didn’t Wenger get the team to concentrate on using our passing skills? When Nasri, Arshavin, Wilshere or Walcott got their heads down and ran at Blackburn’s defence, we looked most dangerous.
Almunia 6.5 Made a few good catches, but almost made a clanger akin to that against West Brom in the first half. Still unconvincing.
Sagna 6.5 Most of his crosses were poor, although some were dangerous. His attacking work left the right wing vulnerable to counter attacks.
Squillaci 6 Not a good game for Squillaci. His heading was average and his lack of speed meant that he was beaten in most one-on-one situations.
Koscielny 7 Composed and gaining in confidence.
Clichy 7 Most attacks came down the right, but Gael was more than willing to bomb down the wing when needed. Didn’t get caught out defensively.
Song 7 Nothing special from our defensive midfielder. He provided cover for the defence and was involved in holding possession, but he wasn’t spectacular.
Wilshere 8 MOTM His tackling, passing and dribbling were superb. Found holes through Blackburn’s back four plenty of times, but did miss a sitter from 6 yards in the first half.
Nasri 7.5 Bravely continued after his head injury, but seemed withdrawn. Continued his slightly abject run of form, but contributed to some splendid moves.
Arshavin 7.5 Very hit and miss. Some touches were sublime, but he made a few wayward passes. A bit of confidence is all that separates him from being the best player in the squad, and receiving groans whenever he loses the ball.
RVP 7 Sometimes good, sometimes poor. His skill on the ball was exceptional at times, but his heading was abysmal. March’s Player of the Month has had a pretty poor month for Arsenal. If we want a chance at the title, he needs to regain form.
Walcott 8 Dangerous when given time to run at defenders. Created openings but faded, possibly due to tiredness on his return from injury.
Fabregas 7.5 His arrival brought a greater sense of urgency and his quick passing opened up Blackburn again and again. Had one shot which was skied, but otherwise effective.
Chamakh 6.5 Had two great opportunities to win the game, but failed. Did add attacking threat.