Arsenal Stutter Into International Break

Online Ed: Home draw v Wolves = two points dropped

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The momentum Arsenal built up in their sequence of wins that began in August has certainly hit a buffer. Credit to the team for remaining unbeaten, that’s an excellent habit. However, the last five matches have seen four draws and a solitary win, against Blackpool in the League Cup. The team have taken three points from three Premier League games, two of them at home. Although remaining unbeaten is good, two wins and a defeat from those fixtures would have been even better. Arsenal now lie in fifth place in the table, with matches against Tottenham and Manchester United coming within a fortnight of the post internationals resumption.

 

The issue of not really performing before the interval is becoming something of a habit, and it’s a worrying one. Wolves took the lead early thanks to a mystifying howler from Granit Xhaka who let a pass from Kolasinac run to a Wolves player behind him. 1-0 up, the visitors frustrated their hosts by holding onto their lead for most of the 90 minutes that followed. Eventually pressure told, but the Midlands side were extremely resilient, and on the quality of chances, should have won this game. Arsenal’s best player by some distance was goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

 

Nuno Espirito Santo’s team played five at the back and proved very adept at denying Arsenal time and space. It was difficult to believe they had lost their previous three games. This was more like the performance that held Manchester City to a draw (although that was at Molineux). And although their forays forward were generally on the break, they constantly looked dangerous when they did approach Arsenal’s goal. Emery’s defenders had real problems coping with them.

 

It’s early days, but this match was unquestionably an off day for the Gunners. The team have been riding their luck for a while, but it can’t last forever. It comes down to this. The attacking imagination and quality of the forward play has to outweigh the weaknesses at the back. But against Wolves, Arsenal seemed to run out of ideas. Emery removed Alex Iwobi at half-time, put Guendouzi on and pushed his full backs even further forward in an attempt to get round the back of the opposition defence. At least he tried something different, but it didn't really work. Ultimately, when the equaliser came it was a bit of a fluke, an intended cross from substitute Mkhitaryan that just deceived the Wolves keeper because no-one made contact with it.

 

Arsenal did hit the post before that through Aubameyang, and Bellerin skied an excellent opportunity, but at the other end, the chances were even better. The attacking substitute Traore’s pace should have resulted in at least one goal.

 

However, the Gunners’ problems ultimately stemmed from the early goal. It set the tone for the game, with the visitors having no requirement to take chances and effectively nullifying Emery’s team. Sadly, it was a reminder of a number of of latter day Wenger era performances when the players seemed to lack the imagination and wit to create chances against stubborn opposition. The other thing that was notable was the fitness of the Wolves players – normally Arsenal find more space and time as the game progresses. That didn’t really happen yesterday. Was it fatigue on the part of Emery’s players?

 

Something was certainly missing yesterday. It was a relief that the game was not lost, but ultimately, a draw is two thirds of a defeat – in terms of points, and Arsenal need to get back to winning ways fast. The next four matches are Bournemouth away, Vorskla away, Spurs at home and Man Utd away. Defensively, the team needs to improve, at the same time as re-discovering their attacking impetus. But nothing can happen for a fortnight…

 

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9
comments

  1. Don Howe

    Nov 14, 2018, 08:11 #112538

    Excellent report and as accurate as usual, Leno and the Uruguayan pit bull excellent. Ozil anonymous. The manager sees a problem and changes things, which is wonderful. Still early days,

  2. Exiled in Pt

    Nov 13, 2018, 13:11 #112532

    Maybe international break has come just at the right time!! On the bright side computer and mobile now working

  3. TonyEvans

    Nov 13, 2018, 12:11 #112531

    testing testing 123

  4. mbg

    Nov 12, 2018, 22:11 #112530

    markymark, Welcome back.

  5. GeorgeBung

    Nov 12, 2018, 21:11 #112529

    Poor show by the team on Sunday, huge difference in intensity to this game and the game against the bin dippers. Let's hope this is just temporary and they wake up for the next game. Consistency is the key. LAHK

  6. markymark

    Nov 12, 2018, 21:11 #112528

    Testing testing 1-2-3! Yippee I’m in

  7. CORNISH GOONER

    Nov 12, 2018, 20:11 #112527

    I always felt Wolves would be this season's dark horses anyway. Going a goal down (thanks Granit) meant we were always vulnerable to quick breaks as we had to chase the game. Overwhelming possession stats but some horrible misses by Auba & Co. Dick has taken on a load of issues which we knew but, for me, the key thing will be if The Krankies properly support him in future windows. I have my doubts!!

  8. mbg

    Nov 12, 2018, 17:11 #112526

    Stutter is the right description and apart from Liverpool we've been doing that quite a bit lately, and just about getting away with it, because of this run have we fallen into the old trap of getting to cockey ? Well unless there's a big improvement we're going to be brought back down to earth again and with two games coming up that doesn't bare thinking about.

  9. Bard

    Nov 12, 2018, 12:11 #112525

    I think we have flattered to deceive for a while. 5th place looks about right. I love the way Dick is trying to play but we dont have good enough players. Our midfield needs an overhaul and our defence is a mess. I dont think Xhaka is good enough and the Ozil debate goes on. You cant pay a guy £350000 a week to turn up once every few weeks. I suspect there will be a major overhaul in the summer. Dick has shown that he pretty ruthless.