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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Norwich City vs. Arsenal

Aidan and I break down what was good, not so good and complete ugliness in yesterday's defeat at Norwich City

I feel your pain
I feel your pain
Scott Heavey

If I were a single guy without any sort of responsibility to other living beings, last night would have been a night where I frequented the local bar, ordered shot after shot until I couldn't stand up, arrived home thanks to the assistance of the bartender where, upon entry, I then opened up the oven, peed in it and passed out on a frozen pizza and Doritos crumbs. With that said, let's get down to dissecting what was good (not a lot), the bad (plenty of it) and the ugly (far too much).

The Good:

Aidan: Aaron Ramsey. Yeah, that's right. Because he actually did a pretty good job in the box to box role, a role that I think is his best; he's got a good physical presence, and he doesn't have the onus to create, which I think weighed him down at times last season; this time, he can spread the ball as he likes to, knit play and make runs into the box. He also did a decent defensive job, with 3 interceptions--more than Mikel Arteta! Arteta, too, was his usual fine self, and Carl Jenkinson once again had a solid game, though it might've been better if he got forward more.

Travis: There's really not a lot to look at from this match that makes you think you've just witness footballing genius at its finest. However, if there's anything good that the squad can take away from this awful, awful match, it's the continued overall offensive strengths that Santi Cazorla provides - both in passing and chance creation. His distribution and vision remains far superior to anything we currently have on the roster, and he will always be someone the opposition must account for at all times, for every match.

The Bad:

Aidan: Everything Gervinho did. He was, quite frankly, awful. Lukas Podolski also didn't do much, but in Podolski's defence, he rarely got the ball in threatening positions, and, without Kieran Gibbs, couldn't play the inside combination passes with Cazorla and Gibbs. Gervinho, though, had the same role that he had last year, and he looked like last year's Gervinho. Instead of passing quickly, he dallied, dribbled a bit, and won a throw in, or lost the ball. He's actually quite an odd Arsenal player, almost antithetical to what Wenger wants in terms of speed of thought, movement and passing. Also, the goal. How many times do Arsenal need to give up long-shot goals before they CLOSE DOWN IN A SHOOTING POSITION.

Travis: The Norwich goal. Where to start. Alexander Tettey being given acres of space to roam free in a dangerous attacking position. Our entire defense failing to pressure Tettey, which allowed him to fire off a spectacular low, late-bouncing shot. Vito Mannone failing to reign in the shot and allowing it to deflect a good five yards back into play. Per Mertesacker being caught ball-watching instead of accounting for their only true goal-scoring threat, Grant Holt. Mertesacker's one true weakness - his fleetness of foot - being exposed as Holt easily skipped past the BFG and, with calmness, slotting the deflection past a flailing Mannone. This goal came early in the match and, at first, the feeling that there was plenty of time for Arsenal to right ship, much like against West Ham just 14 days prior, was enough to relieve my worries that had been the squad's performance for the first quarter of the match. How little I was wrong.

The Ugly:

Aidan: Everything. The sluggish tempo that Arsenal played at. The lack of urgency until the 85th minute. The tactics of sending long balls up to a defender who hasn't scored a goal yet for the club, instead of the defender who routinely gets double digits in a season. The defensive shape, with Andre Santos being the maverick that he is, and not contributing to the shape, and not supporting Lukas Podolski in wide positions. Olivier Giroud failing to get the ball, and Arsenal failing to create anything of note in the entirety of the second half. And the fact that Arsenal lost against a team that had failed to win a game this season, and didn't have to work exceptionally hard to do so; Vito Mannone had more to do than John Ruddy, and Norwich's tactics weren't inventive; they were standard play-against-Arsenal tactics. That is what is so ugly about yesterday; it was a game that we've seen before, numerous times. And every time, the post-match analysis is largely the same.

Travis: Basically everything else that happened in this match. Whereas 8-2 last season featured a bunch of young kids, many making their EPL debut, and soon-to-be castaways, this squad yesterday was nearly our entire first-team that we've seen thus far against a club that featured a manager many considered to be on the way out, against a collection of players who couldn't do anything right prior to hosting Arsenal. The same first team we featured yesterday was nearly the same first team that fought back against City and who've swept aside clubs far stronger than Norwich (no offense, but for as big of a win as it was for them yesterday, they're still relegation fodder). That's what makes yesterday so difficult to come to grips with. If we're being honest with ourselves, we'd all agree that it was premature to say that we were title contenders after the gripping draw away at City. And if we're being honest with ourselves, we'd all agree that the season isn't lost after yesterday's "match," and I'm just as guilty as the rest in letting our emotions get the better of me. In situations like these, it's better to find something else to do and let each day past the initial anger of what occurred slowly start to slip away, like dust in the wind, but with the events etched in our conscious that we can't see too many more matches like yesterday's fixture.