Football, like all other sports really, has that funny way of convincing supporters that a history of results ultimately means that the upcoming fixture and it's result is somehow preordained. While so many Gooners love to rag on Spurs and our history of success over them, especially under Arsene Wenger, it's interesting to note all the gloating amongst the faithful despite the truth that we ourselves have not been playing incredibly well this season either.
Yes, after today's result we are still undefeated, but that is not something we should boast about for more than .5 seconds. A performance against Palace on opening day saw us struggle, we probably should have lost against Everton, and we have dropped points against City and now against the Spuds. We've not been good, and it's not secret as to why.
When news of the team sheet came through, the media had most believe that we would deploy in a 4-2-3-1, with Ramsey and Arteta in midfield and Wilshere, Ozil and Chamberlain deployed behind Welbeck. But anyone that looked at the player selection knew that a 4-1-4-1 was coming. Yes, that shambles of a formation and tactical deployment that has been at the root of all our other disappointing performances this season was back again.
After the excellent performance at Villa Park last weekend where the boys put in a strong all round showing highlighted by Mesut Ozil, why would Wenger revert back to a cautious team selection when we are playing Spurs at the Emirates in the North London Derby? The answer is simple; too much of one and not enough of the other.
|Ramsey, Wilshere and Arteta all started in midfield today; the prime example of too much of one and not enough of the other (image courtesy of Arsenal's official Facebook page)|
In his post match thoughts, Wenger fully admitted that there was no justifiable reason that he did not start Sanchez today, but simply, that it was just the selection he made. Not only was Sanchez left on the bench, but Cazorla was as well - why? Because there is a sense that Le Prof is trying his hardest to force the Wilshere/Ramsey central partnership any chance he can.
While it's clearly not some sort of love affair, the problem is that we have too many of one type of midfielder and not enough of the other. I perhaps can understand why Wenger would want to play a flat four midfield with Arteta just behind, but the problem is neither Ramsey nor Wilshere is made for it. Time and time again, there is ample proof to show that you need midfielders with steel, grit and the ability to fight tooth and nail to win control of the midfield in order to be successful in the Premier League - bless their hearts, but neither Wilshere nor Ramsey can call on any of those traits.
Point being, is that Arsenal have too many creative players and not enough of the sort we have been missing since Gilberto Silva was at the club, and Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit before him. Added to Rammer and Jack, we have Santi Cazorla (who prefers to play centrally), Tomas Rosicky, Mesut Ozil, Mikel Arteta (a creative player by trade and not defensive minded) and Abou Diaby - all players who prefer to get forward and be creative. Only Mathieu Flamini and Francis Coquelin can boast that they are the type of player we lack, and that really is not saying much. Given our overstocked central midfield, it's no shock that Wenger has tried to make a 4-1-4-1 work, but at what cost?
In regards to today, yet again he shifted Ozil wide on the left, and given his insistence on trying to make this work, there was no room for Sanchez. It is rather ironic that once Sanchez was introduced, we were a far more dangerous side, but any which way you slice it, when your choices of team selection alienate your most creative player, finds your second best player on the bench, and asks your third best player to play a role where he is not suited, there is a serious problem in that way of thinking.
|It's probably a bit ironic that Chamberlain scored our goal today, considering he was the only midfielder to feature that isn't naturally central of the creative type (image courtesy of Arsenal's official Facebook page)|
What frustrated so many come full time, was just how negative we were on the day. Not only were we too cautious in our tactics, but for large spells of the game we were only interested in keeping possession rather than really creating a ton of quality chances. Such play and underperforming can trace its origins back to the notion of that we have too many creative players always looking to slow things down. Remember when players like G.Silva, Petit and Vieira used to win the ball, drive forward and then play a ball that saw us break? Yes, I remember those days too, and it was when we had a far better balance in the squad than we do now.
Truthfully, I can understand the notion of wanting to maximize what you have in excess, but that does not necessarily make it wise. Against Spurs, at home, in the North London Derby, you cannot go out and be anything other than positive and forward thinking in your tactics and deployment to make sure that you can get the result. If Cazorla and Sanchez could come off the bench today, then they should have started. It's frustrating that we reverted back to a system that is sub-standard after we were so good last weekend, and this sentiment is echoed by many.
What is even more frustrating, is that not only do we have Galatasaray in midweek, but more importantly, we have Chelsea at the Bridge next weekend - with that knowledge in hand, this was a match Wenger HAD to go out and make sure that maximum points were achieved. As of now, it's hard to see how we can take any points off Chelsea at their ground given the type of scintillating football they are playing at the moment.
It's tough being a football supporter sometimes. Truly, you always want your boys to go out, give their very best, and end up taking maximum points as often as possible. The NLD is certainly no different in this matter, and it's a match that so many were looking forward to, but now have to settle once again for what could have and should have been. You can never have too many points in a season, but unfortunately, you can when it comes to a certain type of player, and in the case of Arsenal right now, it's the reason why we're settling for saying we are undefeated rather than boasting about something greater.