Tuesday saw Arsenal held to a goalless draw at the Emirates against Marseille in the Champion’s League fourth round. A win would have meant qualification to the last sixteen for the Gunners’, who are currently leading the group F with eight points.
Marseille meant business as they came out in full force, throwing every punch at Arsenal. They seemed to execute their game plan which was either a win or to settle for a draw. Never would they allow the Gunner’s have it easy so they defended well, and their goal keeper denied Arsenal scoring opportunities.
The Arsenal we saw over the weekend against Chelsea was totally different. Trust Wenger, he gambled with Robin Van Persie who started on the bench. The Gunners were not crisp in performance and seemed like the fire on their boots had been quenched with cold water. My guess is that they must have been drained physically after the tough game at Stamford Bridge (not an excuse though). The game against Marseille was below expectations to the disappointment of fans,
even though there was a couple of brilliance shown. Good to have Vermaelen back in the defence and he did a good job. The likes of Arteta, Walcott, Gervinho, Ramsey, and especially Jenkinson were just okay but not fantastic. None of them could find the back of the net. The talisman of the Gunners, Van Persie, was finally introduced after an hour of play. He made some good runs and play but could not win the match for the Gunners on this occasion.
This leaves me a bit worried for the Gunners and some of the choices of Wenger. He could have approached the game differently. Van Persie could have started the game, get the job done as soon as possible, and then rest him if he wants to. Van Persie has a good energy and influence on the team; had he started maybe it could have yielded a different result to guarantee the Gunners qualification to the round of sixteen. Once the ice is broken, I am sure the Gunners would have scored more goals, and then settle to defend the lead.
But there again we know Arsenal are not very good defensively. It has become a norm from their recent past records to give away cheap goals due to defensive error, which does not seem to have been addressed even with the new signings. Arsenal is always punished in the defence and so when their opponent gets a free kick close to the box, it sends panic through people’s veins. But for some reason that was not the case last night, thank God.
Talking about Van Persie being the talisman for Arsenal, it is even more worrying. In Arsenal’s current scoring form, he is almost like a tree that makes a forest, which we know does not happen. I absolutely love this goal scoring machine but I wish the other team mates would take the bull by the horn. That way RVP would not have to play the fifty matches of the season. That does not in any way undermine the team because they are all amazing players. When a players star is up and shinning, he is unstoppable. For RVP his star seems to be shinning so brightly, and I can only admire this genius.
Having said that I think Wenger has a lot to do especially considering RVP’s contract is almost at its end. Now that he is on fire, he is hot cake in the football market. Wenger should not let him go. Mr Wenger must keep RVP at the Emirates, whatever it takes.
To sign off, I wish Arsenal all the best as they forge ahead in domestic and European competitions.