Blackburn 4-3 Arsenal: I'm Tired of This

Kean in!

1-0 Gervinho 10
1-1 Yakubu 25
2-1 Arteta 34
2-2 Song og 50'
2-3 Yakubu 59
2-4 Koscielny og 68
3-4 Chamakh 85'

Arsenal threw away 3 points and saved Steve Kean's job after losing 4-3 away to Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal had 69% possession, 23 shots. Blackburn had 8, but it was Blackburn who came away with the three points. 

At this point, the regular report ends. Arsenal played very well in the first half; they were creating lots of chances, had scored 2 very good goals, and Alex Song was sweeping up majestically. They even featured some nice pressing! The goal they conceded, like all 4, was very sloppy; Koscielny and Andre Santos were both behind Mertesacker, though it was Santos who played Yakubu onside. 

The second half was a nightmare that we've seen too many times. At this point, however, one has to question what Arsene Wenger said to his players at half time. Certainly, they didn't keep going as many of us thought, because of the danger of Blackburn on set pieces. Blackburn came out in the second half with pace and pressure, and won a free kick from which Alex Song put past Wojciech Szczesny. From there on, it went downhill. Bacary Sagna picked up a knock and was replaced by Johan Djourou, who's in a terrible run of form and also isn't a right back.

At this stage, our defending is becoming a joke. It's not because Arsenal used zonal marking on set pieces; it's because the players have this inability to defend set pieces. Koscielny's own goal was unlucky, but could've been avoided if Djourou hadn't tried to bring down Martin Olsson. The fact that Arsenal played a high line with no pressure is just silly. Also, it's not a matter of personnel. Per Mertesacker is a German International, who has played well at the highest levels of professional football, and looked completely inept today. Perhaps that's because of Arsenal's pressing game: If you play a high line with no pressure, it's easy to put balls in behind and exploit Mertesacker's pace. It seems easy, really: Either play a pressing game with a high line, or a deep line with no pressing. Right now, this Arsenal team is lacking rudimentary defensive skills if they're not playing 10 men behind the ball. 

Playing zonal marking isn't the problem either; maybe Arsenal should've gone for a mix, but Yakubu was left open on the third goal, and Koscielny missed the ball on the second one. These are fundamental defensive errors. At some point, Arsene Wenger has to swallow his pride and ask someone like Martin Keown or Steve Bould or Lee Dixon (or all three) to help out with the defensive side of things. 

The sad thing is that Arsenal's attack was actually good, for the first time all year. They looked like Arsenal going forward. The defensive issues, however, have hurt this team time and time again. I'm tired of it; I'm sure players like Robin van Persie are tired of it. I understand that it takes time to gel a team together, but that's why you make purchases in July, not August 31. Arsenal should not score 3 goals away from home and come away with no points. That shouldn't happen. They shouldn't score 5 goals away from home and concede 12. They shouldn't be up 2-1 after 45 minutes and then lose a game that they were utterly dominating to a team of Blackburn Rovers' standing. Sadly, all the confidence that started to build up is gone again. Is next week the third start of our season? Over to you, Arsene. 

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