What does it take for Arsenal to lose?
1) Özil has to have a bad game. The one thing that bothers me about Özil is that he’s about as tough as frozen yogurt. Yesterday Seamus Coleman, whose name rhymes with “penis soulman”, went over to Özil and gave him a few shoves, just as the half-time whistle was going. There was a brief flare up of tempers and then… nothing. Özil didn’t really respond and put in a second half that should go down as one of his worst ever performances. I don’t think Özil should have punched Penis in the face, but he should have at least responded on the pitch. Instead, he went limp. He created nothing for his teammates. He created nothing for himself and his best chance for a goal, he swept high and over the bar. He had plenty of the ball, he just wasn’t able to find his teammates and they weren’t able to find him. Özil is going to have bad days, yesterday was one of them.
One more thing here about Özil: people often criticize Coquelin for his lack of.. lack of Öziltude. Coquelin isn’t going to be a silky smoothe footballer. He’s not going to lead Arsenal in key passes. He’s not going to take our set plays. He’s not going to be our dead ball specialist. He’s not even really going to get involved in Arsenal’s attack. And we accept that about him, at least I do, because he brings so many other qualities to the team. I also, then, must accept that Özil lacks Coquetude. So, I’m not upset that Özil isn’t a tough guy. But when he has a bad day, Arsenal lose.
2) Everton scored twice off headers and both plays were defended feebly. They aren’t a great corner team. Before yesterday’s match, they had only scored 3 total set play goals (not including pens). Meanwhile, Arsenal had only conceded 1 headed goals all season prior to yesterday. Then, bang, two in one game. Penis Coleman isn’t well known for his aerial ability, he has 7 total goals scored off headers since 2009. Ashley Williams isn’t known for his heading prowess, he has just 5 headed goals since 2011. But if you leave players unmarked, they are going to score.
I actually don’t think Arsenal did much wrong for the Coleman goal. Walcott comes out and puts pressure on Baines, Baines has to switch to his right foot, and he’s primarily a left footed player, but is able to play in a tremendous ball, McCarthy gets away with a little shove on Koscielny, knocking him out of the way to challenge for the ball, and Penis jumps up to claim. Goals like that are going to happen.
The second goal, however. Wide open headers on corners make me tetchy.
3) The referee has to swallow his whistle at the end of the game. I saw Wenger was mad at Mark Clattenburg for awarding the corner for their first goal and that Ronald Koeman took it upon himself to gloat about beating Mr. Wenger. But for me, the real crime in this match was Clattenburg not calling the penalty at the end when Alexis was obviously fouled.
4) We have to be extra flat for long periods. Like I mentioned in my By the Numbers piece, Arsenal had long stretches where they couldn’t create a shot.
Koeman likes to brag about beating Wenger because over the 12 matches they have played head to head, Wenger has only won twice. Koeman has won 5. Worse, Koeman has won three of the last four meetings between the two managers. He achieves this glorious result by playing that kind of anti-football that Arsenal hate. That all teams hate, really. Wenger’s team likes to play vertical and managers like Mourinho and Koeman limit Arsenal’s verticality by packing the defense. Wide play is always low percentage, but I do wonder if Wenger might consider starting Giroud in the next match against either Mourinho or Koeman. It might be nice to have a big battering ram in these types of matches.
Ultimately, though, Wenger’s men couldn’t get attackers into good positions and were unable to deliver that final ball when they did. I remember several passes from Sanchez to Özil which were just inches off. That’s all it takes for the team to be flat.
So, while Koeman is claiming the bragging rights, he really should be careful. This was a lot closer game than he made it seem. If Özil’s shot goes in, if Iwobi’s shot goes in, if Baines doesn’t put in the perfect cross, if Crapenburg makes the correct penalty call, if any of the shots at the end of that match go in, this is a much different result.
Anyway, it was a tough loss but Arsenal just need to regroup now. Man City this weekend where we will see a much different game.