All I have are questions.
Why start Ospina? Yes, he had an OK second half (he was at fault for some of the “big” saves he made) but what is the real reason we are starting Ospina in the Champions League? Wenger did this last season and it failed miserably, so why are we back at it again? What is the real reason why we are starting Ospina over Cech? Wenger refuses to answer but seems to hint that there is some kind of agreement that Ospina will play in the Champions League and Cech in the Premier League. But how does that makes sense? The defense needs consistency as does the offense and the keeper is the alpha and omega of both of those things.
Defenders want to know what their keeper is going to do on crosses and whenever a ball is played over the top. They want to know where he’s going to be positioned on corners and whether he is going to claim. On offense, you need to know where the keeper is going to play the ball, where he is going to kick the ball, and how far he can kick it for goal kicks. And most importantly you need to have consistency in all of these things. If one goalkeeper kicks the ball 10 yards shorter than another that changes the way the entire offense starts. If one goalkeeper is stronger at claims, that changes the way that the center backs and fullbacks play on corners. Couldn’t you see this uncertainty in the back line for Arsenal? Di Maria sure did and tried to score two times off corners.
And even more perplexing is that Arsene started Ospina, who cannot kick long, and also played a counter attacking team full of tiny little players. In other words, Wenger started a team full of tiny players who were going to struggle on corners and in the air that was set up to somehow defend for their lives but who had no outlet to lump the ball to and no ability to lump the ball to him! What was that?
And why are Arsenal supporters lauding Ospina’s performance? He had one good save against Cavani, late in the game when Cavani shucked off Koscielny and he came out to get a hand on the ball. But other than that he was absolutely tragic in the first half and the only reason that the score wasn’t 6-1 is because Cavani is one of the worst finishers in football history. Maybe you missed all the big chances that they created against the back line? They are available on the Arsenalist.com, here is Cavani shooting wide after rounding Ospina, Cavani shooting straight into Ospina, Ospina giving the ball away and making a decent save off a rushed di Maria shot, Cavani chesting the ball down and then falling over! Most of his “highlights” in that game were because he was out of position to start and was able to miraculously recover. That is hardly “world class” keeping, that is shaky keeping and that breeds uncertainty in the back line.
And let me ask one more question about Ospina… don’t you think Cech would have made all those same saves? Cech is especially good at saving big chances, he was the best in the Premier League last season at big chances and shots on target in prime areas. But in the end we don’t even have to argue about whether Ospina was world class last night because given that Arsenal are struggling with consistency both in attack and defense and that we have slotted in a new center back who looks completely lost in the “system” then starting Ospina instead of keeping Cech as number 1 is an absolutely pointless gamble.
Speaking of… why is Arsene Wenger not playing Xhaka? I don’t care what his price tag was this summer, when he plays he immediately makes Arsenal much better in possession, so why aren’t we playing him? Why was he rested this weekend and then not played until the end of the game on Tuesday? Is it a training thing? Is he not training hard enough for Wenger’s liking? Is it a loyalty thing? Is he just being loyal to Coquelin? Does Coquelin have a voodoo doll of Wenger in his locker and whenever Wenger tries to drop him, Coquelin sticks pins in the doll? Did Wenger select Ospina just so that we would all forget the fact that he has now rested Xhaka in two consecutive matches and that Arsenal have struggled in possession in both of those games???
And what the actual FUCK is going on with Arsenal and these 20 minute starts to every match now where half of the players look like they are playing in concrete boots?? On the weekend it was Southampton. On Tuesday it was PSG. And against Liverpool, Arsenal switched off at the start of the second half. Wenger blamed the Euros but Elneny and Chambers didn’t play in the Euros and they were the main culprits in that Liverpool match. Against Southampton it was Cech’s own goal and his positioning (yeah yeah yeah, he’s no better than Ospina, whatever). Against PSG Ox was still napping, Mustafi looked out of it, and Ospina didn’t claim. Not only defensively but on offense the team seems to forget how to play basic football for much of the first half of all of these matches. They are often leaving giant spaces between center backs and midfield, the midfielders seem allergic to the ball and each other, and the forwards are left running around without service. What makes it even more strange is that it happens in every match and then it gets corrected in every match. How is that happening a month into the season?
What has happened to the British Core? Do you remember Wenger saying he was hoping that the core of the English national team would be Wilshere, Ox, Walcott, Gibbs, and Chambers? Only Walcott is an automatic starter and the only reason why Walcott is an automatic starter is because he is the only player we seem to have left in that position. The rest of those players either ride the pine at Arsenal or ride the pine somewhere else, so what exactly happened to these players? Is Wenger to blame for not teaching them basic tactics? Like tracking your runner? Like not giving up huge gaps in midfield? Like staying switched on for 90 minutes?
What is the magic that Ox does to make Arsenal fans wish that Theo Walcott would start? Isn’t he just about the most tragic figure you’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt? Why is he not doing his defensive duties? Why is he letting Serge Aurier get past him and making Monreal cover two players? Why can’t he seem to play basic football? There are a lot of reasons why a physically talented player won’t make the jump up to the next level and probably the most common is that they lack the mental fortitude to make the jump. Is that the problem? Or is he part of the failing of the British Core mentioned above?
And here’s one for the positive folks (not that I’m not positive – I must be since I thought this up!) what does it really matter? After all, if I told you that Arsenal would go to Paris and get a 1-1 draw against PSG, wouldn’t you have been happy with the result?