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Arsenal 2 Liverpool 2: The forwards work, the defenders don’t.

AT HALF-TIME ON SKY they were getting very excited about the Liverpool performance.

And they had a point to an extent – we were undoubtedly porous. But what they missed was the fact that we were creating openings and in fact by the standards of some of our recent first halves what we’d seen hadn’t been at all bad going forward. That we came good later in the game was to me (speaking as an arch pessimist) no great surprise. We upped the tempo sufficiently to make a truism of that most ancient of footballistic sayings: that attack is the best form of defence.

I thought Liverpool’s opener was shabby: not from Sagna who can be excused a slip, not particularly from Vermaelen, even if his clearance wasn’t great, not from Ramsey who had no time to react, but from Mertersacker whose attempt to block the ball was pitiful. It is fairly simple: if you jump side on at a football there is every chance it will ricochet off some part of your body and end up wrongfooting your goalkeeper. If, on the other hand, you throw your body at the ball, coming straight at it, it will, invariably be sent back roughly from whence it came. Witness Jamie Carragher in the second half. Scroll back exactly a week and you will see Mertersacker do exactly the same for West Ham’s goal at the Emirates.

From then on there was a fair bit more pitiful defending: the most painful thing about the Szczesny moment is that he has been making exactly that kind of mistake (the misguided attempt at creativity) ever since he got in the side and yet he doesn’t appear to be learning.

When you look at our defending the easy thing is to fixate on someone such as Santos and hold him up as the epitome of all our problems. I disagree. Yes, he can’t defend, but he is the exception rather than the norm and is only, after all, our reserve left-back. Far more salient to my mind is the inability to turn defenders who are good individual players into a coherent unit. We’ve failed for years to manage that and it is continuing. I honestly don’t think that Szczesny, Gibbs, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny and Mertersacker are bad players at all. They’re just no kind of unit at the moment.

Ahead of them Aaron Ramsey has been drawing praise for his performances in the midfield anchor role. To cut to the chase: I told you so. I’m not saying he’s perfect and I’m not even saying he’s going to be a first team regular for the next decade, but some of the abuse he gets is just absurd frankly. He’s no Jack Wilshere, but he’s a decent player who doesn’t hide.

And so the turnaround materialised and you know what: I’ll doff my cap and give Giroud and Theo a fair bit of credit because I’ve not always been convinced this season that they’re the types who would get you goals when you really need them but last night they did exactly that and you can’t ask for a lot more than that.

This was a good night for our attackers: as I’ve said before, Giroud, Walcott, Podolski and Cazorla works – each offers something unique and they create chances. For our defenders, it wasn’t a good night.

14 Responses to “Arsenal 2 Liverpool 2: The forwards work, the defenders don’t.”

  1. Jonas says:

    I coach basketball. All championsships teams in any ball team sports have one thing in common. Good solid defense. Offense sells tickets but defense wins games and championship. Good defense also starts offense and fast breaks. Wenger when are you going to wake up to this matter.Look at all the championship teams in England in the past.They all had good goalkeepers and very good centerbacks. Where are yours ?
    You are one of the highest paid manager in the buisness. If you cant find top class defeneders and goalkeeper then resign no later then today. You have fear written all over your face when we play and that is probably what is making our poor defense even more nervous. What i hat about our defense how badly they lack passion and desire. When someone is in penalty area looking to shoot at goal you try to make yourself as big as you can be. Instead Mertesecker jumps up in the air with his ass facing the shooter Suarez. That was so pittyful

  2. West Upper says:

    Good post – I disagree about the first goal – ALL of the defenders involved in that fuckup were culpable including Sagna’s with his impersonation of a new born foal at the start.

    We will never win anything until we learn how to defend again – that won’t happen until we get radical changes in the management. Its been a problem for so long that its obvious.

  3. Famil Encolsure Man says:

    Agree with most of this post, but wanted to add a word on Sagna: a negative word, I’m afraid. What has happened to the man? For years he has been one of my favourite Gunners – totally solid and consistently reliable. But since his return from injury he has been shambolic, I’m afraid. Going forward he still hits 70% of his crosses into the first defender, and seems to be losing drive. But the big change is in his defending: we used to see one or two defensive errors a season from the man; now it’s more like one or two every 45 minutes. A great shame to see. Frankly, I think Jenkinson looks at least as good now.

  4. Wallace says:

    Good post. Offensively we do have an excellent mix of players. When they are working in harmony it’s great to watch. And yes, Ramsey looks far more like it when played centrally. Still, if Spurs buy a striker and we – as looks likely – do nothing, i’d make them clear favourites for 4th. Which, if it results in change, might not be the worst thing.

  5. Martin says:

    Your post would be so much more compelling and taken seriously if you could spell.

    You might accuse the Arsenal defence of being pittyfull (sic). So is your typing and spelling. Around 20 mistakes I count. More than Per Mertesacker made last night!!

  6. West Upper says:


    This is a blog comment – not an English examination, stop being so anal and obnoxious.

    Jonas made some perfectly valid points. Has it occurred to you that he may not be a native English speaker?

  7. melcfromfinsburypark says:

    Couldnt agree more goodplaya. The past 5 games or so have seen us create lots of chances and take quite a few of them. Things are looking much more positive when we are on the front foot. But, dear oh dear, the holes at back and the calamities that befall us just get more and more embarrassing. There are lots of things that this team do well, but rather like Santos, the deficiences are just way to prevailant for us to be able to reach the level of consistency required to win anything. And sadly, this has been the case for far too long now.

    Back to Santos though. It has been obvious all season (and for much of last) that, when it comes to defending, he is way below the required standard. And he is a defender after all, defenders who cant defend are no good to anyone. Wenger must be aware of this having dropped him once this season when he played a woefully out of form TV out of position. So, why haven’t we been trying to buy a LB this window and, fo rthat matter, why didnt we try to in the summer? There are plenty of left backs out there who are far far better defenders than Santos so the old “we only want quality players who are better than what we have” just doesn’t wash.

  8. GooneRed says:

    You horrible little leech of a man (liitle boy), picking up on spelling and grammatical errors.

    I assume you mean most of Jona’s error’s are in words such as ‘Defense’ and ‘Offense’. It is quite clear to me that Jonas is American.
    1) He coaches basketball
    2) Those spellings and one like it are correct American-English.

    The others are just typos, which anyone can make.

    Now fuck off because your clearly a cunt.

  9. JamesM says:

    Agree with West Upper – ALL the defenders fucked up for the Suarez goal. What is this clearance from Vermaelen you talk of? I recall him COMPLETELY missing the ball! More dogshit defending under nearly zero pressure.

  10. PD says:

    So we’re going to buy only a left-back because Gibbs got injured. In other words, if it didn’t happen, despite being the worst team of the Wenger era, the manager didn’t do anything to improve his squad before the window closed. Just simply extraordinary.
    Our attacking options are good….as long as Giroud stays fit & keeps his form. He doesn’t, and our options are suddenly poor again. And don’t get me started on the people talking about how our DM options are now ok because of Ramsey being added to Arteta & Coquelin. Really ? 2 players out of position & one who the manager has so little faith in that despite being the only DM at the club all season has started just 3 league games.
    And as for Chesney…young keepers need a break. How many times has Ferguson taken De Gea out of the firing line for a couple of games ? Chesney on the other hand played for 3 months last season injured & on painkillers because our options are so shit. And yet they’re still shit.

    So here we are. Unbelievably obvious flaws in the squad before the season started. Flaws which all the evidence of the season to date has proved beyond doubt & yet still no signings ? I honestly cannot see how Arsene can possibly be considered the right man for the job any more. Thoroughly depressing. For the love of God Arsene, will you please just walk away. Please.

  11. Teacher says:

    im withh martin. bad speling & Gramer shoud not b aloud in the coments . it Lowers the toan

  12. slc gunner says:

    i only got to watch the 15-minute highlights on What shambolic defending. The 1st was a comedy of errors, the 2nd had fewer actors in the comedy, but poor defending again. Szczesny finally got caught on the ball, it was waiting to happen. But he got lucky. Hopefully the fright will do him some good.
    Theo has started to earn his hike in wages, so that’s good. Giroud is on a roll.
    @P, it’s a good point. I wonder if we would have moved for Monreal if Gibbs hadn’t been injured. It’s worrying that our 4th choice centre half is Squillaci now (or maybe Miquel). The other 3 continue to be error prone, but are miles ahead of Squillaci. Talk was of how we were looking for 2 players in the window. It’s definitely disappointing.

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