Did tactical errors cost Arsenal dear at bogey ground?

By Avenell Dave

When you hear that there is a flu bug going around Arsenal before kick-off, it's hard not to fear the worst. 

After two gruelling games, the last thing we needed was illness to deprive us of players or energy when facing the Champions at their own ground, a place where we hardly ever seem to win. 

The problem with losing a player like Per Mertesacker is that without his calming presence, we have to essentially start with an entirely new defence.

If there was fear as Wenger alluded to, losing a defensive lynchpin was hardly going to improve confidence. 

Koscielny is forced to move right so Vermaelen can move left, provoking two new partnerships with their full-backs. 

There is no way around it unless you force Vermaelen, who is very left footed, to play on the right which makes no sense. 

If you'd asked me before the game who should replace Tomas Rosicky, I would have said Flamini, and so it proved to be.

In some respects, it was a good thing he played, getting his booking and therefore his out of the way for the visit of Southampton, who, while in superb form and capable of giving us a good game, are certainly not to be feared in the way that Manchester City or Chelsea may be.

But the problem his inclusion created was that Ramsey, our best performer this season, had to move out wide again and we have seen that that doesn't work.

We knew United would try and ruffle us and that offensively they are not the force they once were. We tried to negate their attacking prowess in order to protect the defence when what we should have done in hindsight was take them on, cause them problems.

Gnabry was suffering from flu as well, but if he had been well and started, he and Sagna would have made things happen for sure.

I heard it said that Giroud didn't do enough but we all know that the biggest disappointment was Ozil.

The German was supposed to help us make a difference in games like this but rather than rising to the occasion, he seemed intimidated by the occasion.

He needs to learn, as Robert Pires did when he started at the club, that there are times where he needs to put his foot in or gamble and put his head where it may hurt. It worked for Ramsey on Wednesday and if Ozil had taken the same determined approach when the Welshman played the ball forward, we may have equalised.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

There is no shame in losing to a set play goal even if the smirk and celebration of RvP stuck in the throat. 

We also got further confirmation that Bendtner should be shipped out as soonas we can in January and that Ivan Gazidis needs to be working NOW to get a quality, nippy, freescoring striker in.

Losing just before the interlull is no fun. Losing is no fun. Losing to a rival and a side we should be asserting ourselves against to create more doubts in their heads about their ability to defend their title, is no fun.

But we are still top of the table and all the other results apart from Liverpool went for us. 

Hopefully we will get more players back from injury in the next couple of weeks than we will lose.

Being Arsenal means that every game is a big game. 

This squad is still a work in progress - and there is clearly a way to go until we have the confidence of a side who believe they can really win every game.

But I see no reason why we can't go on another run and prove that we are not just early pace-setters before the sugar daddy sides take control of the title race.