Wenger gets Blues but Arsenal are too predictable

Watching yesterday’s match with a fellow Gooner, I couldn’t help but get frustrated.

My companion, a fellow Gooner of 30+ yrs, talked of how we’ve gone too long without a trophy, how we need to spend money, how we can’t pass the ball anymore. To some extent, I sympathised with him.

As usual when these accusations come up, I answered that no team has a divine right to win trophies, however much we think our support, stadium or team warrants more success than we currently enjoy.

Cardiff was never going to be an easy game, especially given the intensity of their ground and a ten match unbeaten run, but Arsenal’s problem was that we were too predictable....

Some reports said that Aaron Ramsey got overawed by the occasion but it’s easy to blame one player and personally I don’t think he was that bad.

Sunday’s match as a typically turgid, determined and unattractive FA Cup tie – the sort of game that confirms the “romance” of the competition. In other words, levelling out the gap in quality between the two sides regardless of their differing stature.

There were some good points to take from the game.

Kieran Gibbs had a fine outing at left back and I suspect he may well become a more effective alternative to Gael Clichy than Armard Traore, whose future looks further upfield.

Lukasz Fabianski again showed that he has great ability, clasping at crosses and making some top class saves including one from a free kick that was destined for the top corner.

All in all, the defence coped well enough, given the home side’s onslaught, but it was further forward that we suffered.

You could argue, justifiably, that in games like this, only one goal is ever going to be enough and had Manu Adebayor taken the chance he had late on rather than fluffing his connection, we may be looking forward to the next round.

I’m not going to chastise the forward – it was not a simple tap-in and everyone makes mistakes.

But, forgive me Addict readers, I have to hark back to last week’s re-run on Arsenal TV of the 1997/98 Double season that reminded me of how fluid we once were.

Of course, that team was different and more experienced than we put out yesterday, but it was the way we played in Cardiff that caused most concern.

Whenever we have the chance to go forward, it seems that too many of our team are happy holding the ball up and waiting for others to join the attack.

This has the effect of allowing the opposition to re-group rather than leave spaces for our forwards to exploit.

Last week at Hull, Samir Nasri hit a first time shot that beat Hull. On Sunday he wanted to take more touches, by which time the opposition had closed the ball down.

It was the same of others, of course – and let’s not even mention Manu Eboue!

What Arsène Wenger needs to remind his team as soon as possible is that fast, flowing counter-attacking football is the key to success.

Watch any of the other leading sides and they take shots more often, get in crosses more often and don’t hang about when a counter-attacking opportunity opens up in front of them.

As I said to my despondent fellow Gooner, we’re missing Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicknote, Eduardo and Cesc Fabregas and they’re all a lot closer to return than rehabilitation.

Any side would struggle without players of that calibre – and Andrei Arshavin would give us an additional cutting edge that we’re currently lacking.

We’re not losing games (let’s hope Everton are exhausted by their Liverpool exploits of the last week) and that’s the most important thing.

But neither are any of our rivals and we need a bit of single mindedness and magic if this season is going to produce a Phoenix from the flames.