Saturday, 1 November 2014

Arsenal vs Burnley: Match Preview

Preview | Pre-match conference | Team news

These set of easy fixtures were meant for us to gain some confidence and fluency in our performances, not scrape past them and dread the Dortmunds and Uniteds.

Anderlecht away and Sunderland was the first time we won two consecutive games this season, if you consider Manchester City to be an extension of pre-season. Pretty much everyone knows how we had to struggle and were lent a kind hand by fortune to seal those six points, but in the end they're six points all the same. Hopefully they're enough for us to find some belief and set a good run in the next three games, after which two home games to United and Dortmund loom.

Against Sunderland, even though we had an unfamiliar defence (to say the least), the team managed to keep a clean sheet. However, even a layman could notice that despite the depth and the technical quality, our attack was as rudderless as they come. Perhaps the return of Theo Walcott could instigate something, but as I had said in my previous post, I remain dubious.

Wenger has lost almost all of his traits that made him an Arsenal beloved in the first place. Our team has lost its attacking sheen since Fabregas and Nasri left. And even though the replacements for them (namely Ozil and Cazorla) are arguably better, the manager has lost the ability to make them click.

I don't think Wenger is ever going to make this team a freeflowing attacking cohesive unit again. If he's too afraid or ignorant to bring Rosicky or Podolski in the starting XI in an attempt to change our attacking dimension, then there's no way he's adapting to wing play counter-attacking football over possession football. That's just not the kind of manager he is.

I doubt Wenger even knows he's the problem. Jacqui Oatley of all people showed how the manager reacts to being questioned. Even Sir Chips Keswick said that the board keep their heads down when the manager doesn't have a plan. There's no one in a position of authority to demand more than 4th of Wenger, or to recognize the reasons why the team are tanking and hold the manager answerable.

Which is why I'd be surprised if today was the day Wenger solved our attacking woes. Knowing him, he would stick with 4-1-4-1 and Ramsey and Cazorla and Sanchez and Welbeck, even though the latter pair are mentally and possibly, physically exhausted. Even though Cazorla and Ramsey are my favourite player, I know that Santi needs to be given a time out and Ramsey should be played in his proper position, yet Aaron will occupy one of those attacking midfield spots and Wenger will choose Santi over Rosicky in the pecking order.

(To be fair, I appreciated Wenger easing Walcott into the pitch and not throwing him on against Sunderland. Asking him to be patient is completely justified.)

The logic behind overplaying certain starters and religiously benching close substitutes is - well, there is no logic. The players who keep playing every game get jaded and their mathematical probability towards getting injured increases dramatically. Conversely, the players almost always benched lose interest and feel like they've fallen out of favour with the manager. They enter the Vermaelen stage where they angle for a transfer and leave the club short on depth. Once again I ask, what's the point in having able players on the sidelines if they aren't going to be rotated into the foray?

From the manager, it's negligence of the highest order. It's the reason why Fabianski and Vermaelen left this summer window, and the reason why Podolski and Rosicky may be the future casualties.

Even though the manager sends them match-after-match tired and unfocused - not to mention tactically unaware - once again we have to hope they somehow find the stomach to find a win. It's unfair, yes, but that's the Arsene way, apparently.

Burnley is most definitely the worst team in the league at the moment. Should we struggle to beat them (AT HOME), it would speak volumes of where the team currently stands. We need to trash them instead of nick it by a goal or two.

Hopefully Sanchez doesn't overdo his body and find himself with a torn hamstring. Oh, and we win.

P.S. Apologies for not having a post in midweek, but Vib_H had other commitments to attend to.

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]