Well that wasn’t very enjoyable was it? It’s easy to look back on yesterday and think that our club is embroiled in some sort of Shakesperian tragedy set in a tunnel of woe with few glimmers of hope. Rumours of Arsenal’s demise may well – to coin a phrase – be greatly exaggerated, but it’s not exactly happy-go-lucky right now.
When Gervinho scored in the tenth minute, I smelled goals. A smart pass in behind the Blackburn defence from Song saw Gervinho let the ball run behind him and swerve to get his angles right before rolling the ball beyond Robinson. We looked in the mood, we looked comfortable in possession and we (and he) looked a threat.
Yakubu popped up with a deft finish fifteen minutes later. He was certainly onside, with new boy Santos sitting too deep, and Koscielny appeared to flail an arm suggesting some defensive partner made of thin air should go with his man. The thin air cared not a jot, failed to listen, and it was 1-1.
A defensive lapse, but not disastrous. We went again, and with Rambo sent into the box a lovely cut-back found 94% pass accuracy man (working title), Mikel Arteta. BOOM! Chants of “Who are ya?” could be heard from the away end.
Except who Blackburn were yesterday were a team deservedly at the bottom of the table at the start of play, but who would then find themselves acquiring three goals without reply. Not before Gervinho had the chance to play in RVP for an odds-on goal, but opted to go himself and saw his effort blocked away for a corner. The captain’s glare said it all – 3-1 and you would have fancied we might go on from there.
Our chance of taking the game by the scruff of the neck gone, a combination of poor confidence, poor focus and an almost tangible otherworldly mischievous spirit decided to stick collective oars in and capsize us. Arshavin, having kicked last season’s habitual laziness actually chased back, covering for his left-back. But the game decided to play funny and punish him for such audacity. The free-kick he conceded was a clipped ball in that nobody attacked and got rid of and just bounced off a statuesque Song into the net.
Whether Song could do much about it is arguable, but from then on it was like watching a team familiarly bewitched. Sagna limped off struggling with an earlier curse/challenge, and Djourou came into RB and very quickly got himself booked. A second for Yakubu came as we failed to clear a deep corner, but he was plainly offside as he scored, something I’m stunned an official looking right across the line couldn’t see, but perhaps a decision made harder by Santos – again – being deeper than his defensive partners.
3-2 down, Walcott replaced Arshavin, and with Martin Olsson, a man actually capable of tripping over thin air (and once shamed by Sam Allardyce, such is his character) running down our left, you’d expect an in-form and confident Djourou to take everything into touch. If not, at least a passing ant could probably trip the Swede. But Djourou, whether anxious having already been booked, seemed to falter at the last and missed the ball completely. Once Olsson was in behind – miraculously mastering his centre of balance like a regular everyday person – Song attempted a weak as you like flail of the leg, and it was the much-maligned Koscielny who then provided another OG, celebrated by Steve Kean like some part of his own master plan.
Chamakh was called upon, and with five minutes of normal time remaining the Moroccan scored a fine header from an RVP cross. A goal Chamakh and the team needed, and Kean decided not to celebrate this time. Mertesacker and Chamakh then both missed headed chances and RVP had a shot stopped by Robinson and a bizarre and painful game soon came to an end. And then more pain erupted. Twitter is a harsh place to be after a defeat like that.
Gooners claiming the club is now in “freefall”, or that they were “ashamed” to support Arsenal bewildered me. It’s not happy viewing at the moment granted, but yesterday I found myself somewhat taken aback by the outpouring and even more taken aback to be agreeing with Rio Ferdinand:
Talk of “Wenger Out” isn’t for me, but this morning even as someone who errs on the positive side of things I’ve staggered myself by thinking about Rio’s tweet. Some are so “eager to get rid of him…” but…but what? “How do we change that?” is the question that comes to my mind, and it’s something that needs to be figured out by Wenger, by the players, by the coaching staff and – preferably – quickly. Whether we should separate the end of last season’s form from the start of this is debatable, and we might call this a transitional phase with the new players coming in, but however I package it to myself I have to admit that luck can only be blamed so much. Logically, luck alone won’t put us 15th with 4pts and a -8 goal difference after five games, and we have to admit some failings. Failure to not defend properly. Failure to not take chances to stretch leads. Failure to keep concentration.
Such failures will do more damage in the course of a season than occasional failings of luck, and so they’re failures we can’t afford to keep entertaining.