Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Seven kinds of wrong

Arsenal 7 - 3 Newcastle Utd

While the scoreline perhaps flattered the home side, who undoubtedly benefited from not playing on Boxing Day, the reality is that we lost this match, and lost it badly, thanks to a host of terrible defensive errors.

In what to neutrals and home fans would have been a cracking match, to those of a black and white persuasion this was a depressing defeat whose only saving grace was that it served to highlight all of our current problems just before the opening of the transfer window.

In short, we lack quality cover in defence (where even some of our first choice XI aren't currently covering themselves in glory) and central midfield (where Mr T in particular seemed to be caught on the ball too frequently). Up front, we remain reliant on Demba Ba who did everything possible to win the game for us, and in doing so once again highlighted his worth as the January sales start.

For us, two goals by Ba sandwiched a tap-in for Sylvain Marveaux (one of the few bright sparks). At the back, however, we consistently failed to adequately mark players, track runs and sweep up loose balls. Gallingly, Arsenal's second even came from our own throw, with Danny Simpson unable to pick out one of his static team mates.

Unlike our Boxing Day game at Old Trafford, this time it was Newcastle who thrice equalised only to then to capitulate at the end, when heavy legs and lack of squad depth took their toll as Arsenal tellingly scored three goals in the last seven minutes to give the score an unfairly lopsided feel.

Exasperatingly for the Silver Fox, we actually dominated possession, only to be ruthlessly punished for some pretty lax defending.

What the game clearly illustrates is the need for more bodies in the squad, with defensive reinforcements (ideally at right back and centre-half) of paramount importance (not least following Danny Simpson's broken toe). With half the season gone 40 points still looks a long way away from where I'm sitting. To get there we need to tighten up at the back and hope that, should Ba leave, we can still score enough goals to keep us the right side of the line come May.

Other reports: BBC, Guardian

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