As this is delayed rather than do a match report I wanted to share some thoughts...
Trying to be measured but I can't hide from what I see and feel. When you love your team its about emotion it's irrational and you should be allowed to be both, that's the emotional contract we signed when we chose Arsenal.
The Big Issue - DEFENCE
I tend to look at games with a more offensive mindset. Generally looking at patterns of play, balance going forward but over the months I have become less a romantic and more a fan who wants to change the cycle of repeated fall-short failure. A quick look at the goals against column tells you why we wont win anything until we get defensive stability. 47 goals conceded - worst since 1984 and that was in a 42 game season.
Why is this?
For me we have no defensive strategy - we walk on the pitch thinking we are Arsenal and we have a technical arrogance about our offensive game. Wenger buys super technicians and admires technically perfect players. No issue with that except these players do not respect all aspects of football.
I hate this saying - Arsenal are Player-ish - a Wenger saying.
Football is about what you do on the ball and ALSO what you do off the ball.
Watching Ramsey and Yossi running back on the second goal tells you a lot about Wenger's Arsenal. We have a complacency and arrogance that riles other teams and propels them into a performance way above their league position. And why not, we don't take teams seriously. I always think back to the Carling Cup final v Birmingham. Those who were there and watched the warm-up knew we were not focused. This was our chance to smash the no trophy headline but no - We turned up in tracksuits fresh from Sopwell house and just bowled in and let them go one up.
Again we concede the first goal.
People say well Arsenal have the most points from losing positions - We must have the right character - I say why are we behind so much.
It's because we are not professional in our approach and our focus. We are Arsenal and we have the 4th biggest wage bill - be as big as we are. Happy to pay big money happy to over pay mediocrity but not so happy to prepare out players properly so they can win those big moments when it counts.
That is down to the culture set by the manager.
I look at our fullbacks and ask myself - Can we win the league with a callow youth like Gibbs at left back? A real gooner and I like him but he is a second choice at best and should be if we are raising standards. He is never in his hole, always chasing the ball back. He does not stop the cross, he does not make tackles, his spacing on shot blocking or cross blocking is shocking. He does not box out the back stick - What does he do well?
He goes forward well and is smart in the last third. Well you are a full back and you need to do that job first.
As next to him we have Vermaelen - Top player. But he is a front foot defender a charger - I love his personality and drive to impact the game but he is never in his hole. He needs discipline, he needs his coach to tell him. TV says he is not a fullback but to me he is the perfect Arsenal fullback. He can tackle and he can stop crosses and defend the back post on crosses.
Koz v Norwich was almost a one man defence. He had no protection next to him or in front as Song and Ramsey we shockingly absent - Our defensive shape was non existent. Half of Norwich's team were playing in League 1 two years ago and we let them rip us to pieces. Make no mistake this was a fair result. Did anyone see Micah Richards block late on today - huge moment and he was there to make it. I cannot see Gibbs doing that.
Next Issue Defensively - Midfield
Disappointed that Wenger has not adapted to injuries better. We lost our fullbacks in December/January - in my opinion this was a perfect opportunity to play 3 centre backs and keep our go forward by playing wingers wide in a 3-4-3 but hey what do I know.
Since we lost Arteta the obvious move was to change our shape. With Diaby brittle, Ramsey not confident or at this point good enough rather than play our normal game with lesser players. There are 2 obvious moves Wenger has not made. Arteta has a tactical discipline and unlike Song he reads the game smartly, he is our deep lying Scholes type play maker. Closest we have to him is Rosicky who has the experience and intelligence to get it move it and set a tempo. All Wenger had to do was play Rosicky and Song at the base of the team and hold. I know it's not Vieira and Gilberto but it's the best we have. Paying Aaron deep was and is a disaster.
Secondly at 'money time' v a lower team you have to make them defend. For me Chamakh should of started and we needed 2 forwards to work them and keep them back. Norwich we so relaxed and confident as we did not threaten consistently until the last 30 minutes.
To allay natural nerves simplify the game not complicate it. Play Chamakh v WBA and he will run work set a tone and create space for RvP to score. Play in their half.
I do feel like many I have been here before. Spurs do what Spurs do - mess up under the weight of expectation but it's close and we have to look at ourselves. I love Arsenal and Wenger but lets be honest is he better than he was 5 years ago?
For me he is not. He is making mistakes he never used to do. Still a genius but even geniuses are flawed. His stock has lowered and he is mocked at times - I don't want our manager mocked I want him revered but in my heart i know he is not as good as he used to be. I struggle to defend him. I never used to have to defend him.
I don't want to say change him want something to change because watching Chelsea on Cup final day after we struggle v newly promoted Norwich is not the way a top 8 team in Europe should be playing.
We are sleeping - the biggest sleeping giant in football.
Wake up Arsenal - history is built on success.