Arsenal 2-3 West Brom: A baffling lack of desire

Arsenal 2-3 West Brom: A baffling lack of desire

In the build-up to Arsenal’s loss at West Brom I made the following comment:

“West Brom is a team we should be beating in the league, but the attitude of the players is all-important. West Brom at The Emirates Saturday afternoon will not have the same charged atmosphere as Spurs away on Tuesday night in a knockout Carling Cup tie, but the boys must turn up with the same win-at-all-costs mentality to avoid any potential problems.”

I think it’s safe to say that we did not ‘turn up with the same win-at-all costs mentality’ as at White Hart Lane and it absolutely showed as West Brom secured a deserved 3-2 victory at The Emirates.

While this is an Arsenal blog and as such usually focuses on what our team has done, it is first important to recognise the excellent performance that Roberto Di Matteo’s side put in. They, not us, entered the game with the right attitude and played a terrific team game full of desire and technical quality. Despite our late onslaught I thought the score flattered us and it would have been harsh on West Brom if we had managed to ‘do and Everton’ and pulled it back to 3-3 in stoppage time.

Despite West Brom’s positivity I really think we made it easy for them. Too many players looked uncharacteristically lethargic, the passing and ball retention was in stark contrast to Tuesday night and bad individual errors were made in the defensive third. There was nothing wrong with the team selection: this was, on paper, a stronger team than the one that beat Spurs, but our attitude and desire was completely lacking until West Brom went 3-0 ahead, which is unforgivable.

Sagna reflects on a bad day at the office

I’m not the type of person who will write off an entire season (or hype one up, for that matter) on the basis of one performance, but there were some warning signs for the manager to contend with.

Alex Song’s new hairstyle appears to have brought with it an unwanted adventurous streak which exposed the back four here. Back to basics please, Alex.

Likewise the contrast in energy between Abou Diaby and the woefully ineffective Emmanuel Eboue and their replacements Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky was frustratingly large. Yes, they came on at a time when the entire team had lifted but I still thought Diaby and Eboue’s lack of intensity was excusable, particularly when compared with Samir Nasri, who was strong here despite playing 120 minutes on Tuesday night.

Then, of course, there is the situation with the goalkeeper.

When Wenger made the decision not to bring in a new goalkeeper it was always going to be interesting to see what sort of reaction followed Manuel Almunia’s first bad performance of the season. Well, I think that question has been well and truly answered as the Spaniard had a shocker here, at fault for two of the three goals and the concession of the penalty, and was sarcastically mocked by the crowd inside the stadium late in the game.

With Almunia’s confidence on a knife edge this was not the sort of disastrous performance he needed, but with Lukasz Fabianski hardly impressing and Wojciech Szczesny unwisely speaking out in the media the manager has no choice but to retain the Spaniard. In short, all is not well in Goalkeeper Land.

As I said earlier, I’m not one to write off our chances off the back of one bad performance and I’m certainly not going to do that here. I’ve seen enough change in this side – particularly at the back – to suggest that we will have a decent say in the destination of the Premier League this season.

This was a bad performance, a shockingly terrible performance, but one that can be forgiven if made in isolation and one that can be forgotten if the team can respond against Chelsea next weekend.

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsenal’s 2-3 loss to West Brom by leaving a comment.

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34 Responses to “Arsenal 2-3 West Brom: A baffling lack of desire”

  1. SGN
    September 27, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Why does no one ever talk of Vito Mannone. Last time I checked, he wore an Arsenal jersey, but we treat him like an outsider, or rather like he is on loan to Arsenal.
    N.way we screwed up, n hope we get results at Bridge, else………………..

  2. Rayed
    September 27, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    maan just so sad. Usually when we lose we still put in a decent effort, sometimes we’re unlucky etc, but on Saturday no excuse whatsoever, we were just that awful. I didn’t feel proud to be a Gooner that day.

    I hope this is the kick up the ass the boys need to get results in vital games against Belgrade and Chelsea, both away from home.

    Andy do you think Wenger will finally replace Almunia with say, Mannone or Szczecny?

  3. kc
    September 27, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Its one of those weekends where the top three have their voodoo weekend.
    As for Arsenal, its a case of over confidence and looking down on their opponent. Our two defensive midfielders were so high up, failing to protect the CBs, at the same time leaving a big gap in the center.This makes it very difficult for the CBs to pass the ballout. As one notice the number of interceptions by WBA. Watching themplay I am glad they were punnished for it; if they had gotten away, they will think they will be able to walk over any team, disasterous. Hopefully they had learn fromtheir mistake and Le Boss hairdrier has it desired effect.

  4. Andrew Weber
    September 27, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    @ Rayed – No, I don’t. To be honest I wouldn’t either as much as that might be an unpopular thing to say. I think he’s still the best we’ve got even if Mannone and Szczesney, both unproven at the top level, have more potential. It’s a bit of a mess though.

  5. Gibbs
    September 27, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    This is not the first bad performance, Andrew. Have you forgotten the game against Sunderland already? We were played off the park in that game and were lucky to escape with a point.

  6. gaya
    September 27, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Kc, you say the defensive midfielders were high up the pitch, agreed but i beg to ask did the manager not notice this issue and bark out orders to his pllayers?
    i sometime feel the players are allowed too much room to do as they pls and it always cost us

  7. Lexis
    September 27, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    Play Vito Mannone NOW!!!

  8. Hey Nonny Mouse
    September 27, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    Andrew, in yr blog before the game you wrote: ‘The various problems in the squad means the team virtually picks itself tomorrow. ….the midfield will be comprised of Song, Denilson and the energetic Wilshere.’
    I believe if AW had played those three we may well have seen a different match. Instead the teams tempo took their cue from the sluggish, carelessness of Diaby and the oafish ridiculousness of Eboue. Eboue is a joke and only fit to be the butt of your Egnoue articles. Diaby however is fit for for nothing – certainly not the famous red & white shirt. He is a disgrace. At least Almunia makes an effort!

  9. Andrew Weber
    September 27, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    @ Gibbs – We didn’t play particularly well against Sunderland but we certainly didn’t lack desire. We were only a fraction of a minute away from holding on with ten men in a great defensive performance, and also missed a penalty. I felt this game fell into a completely different category – a lack of desire bordering on arrogance and laziness.

    @ gaya – That’s a fair point. I know it’s hardly a scientific theory but since Song’s hairstyle change he has lacked a little bit of discipline. After working so hard to get everyone on his side after a tough start to his career he needs to get back to what he does best – shielding the back four. And like you say, Wenger needs to have words with him and should have done on Saturday.

    @ Hey Nonny Mouse – Perhaps you are right. I was surprised with the midfield I have to say – and surprised to see Eboue and Diaby start. I think you’re being harsh calling Diaby a “disgrace” but the evidence is there time and time again that he is a more effective player when Song and Cesc are behind him. When he is in the less advanced position, even against moderate opponents, he struggles. Eboue… I just don’t know what to say. His involvement in the game was non-existent and really, he should have been pulled off at half-time.

  10. Gruggy
    September 27, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    Eboue, not good enough to be a RW, nor a RW/RM.

    His best role I feel is working as a jester for the North Korean national team.

    Time to let him go Arsene. He’s a backup RWB at best.

  11. Fatboy
    September 27, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    @ Andrew- why wouldn’t you replace Almunia with Mannone or Szczecny? OK, both are inexperienced, but what have we got to lose? In both Almunia and Fabianski we have keepers that make serious mistakes virtually every time they take the field. Some of this is down to confidence I grant you, as the speculation about a new keeper in the summer meant both lads know their futures are in doubt. However, I don’t think either Almunia or Fabianski are good enough. The manager’s assertion about Fabianski being world class is pathetic; he just makes himself look a prat saying things like that. As on Saturday, Almunia was beaten on his near post twice in CL final back in 2006, and I don’t think he’s progressed at all since that time.
    How will Mannone and Szczecny gain experience unless they play? Neither got a look in in the Carling Cup game last week, not even on the bench. The current number 1 and 2 let us down time and time again. Give the young lads a chance, we have nothing to lose.

  12. Andrew Weber
    September 27, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    @ Fatboy – I agree that we don’t have much to lose. In fact, to strengthen you argument even further, if Szczesny’s recent comments are anything to go by then we have a potentially great young Polish keeper to lose if this situation is not managed well.

    To answer your question: why wouldn’t I replace Almunia with Mannone or Szczesny? I haven’t seen anything of Szczesny live and therefore cannot judge him as a player and I don’t think Mannone can play simply because of the complex situation at the club. If he went in then where would it leave the other goalkeepers? Where would it leave Szczesny? You might say it’s not our problem but it does create an even more delicate situation for the four goalkeepers and the manager.

    I agree that given the young players might be the right way to go, but you have to think if either of them is going to play it’s going to be Szczesny.

  13. billi
    September 27, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    well, . . ., at the whole I agree, but to come back from a 0:3 to a 2:3 in the final quarter is not so bad neither, I thought a 3:3 would have been justified as well because of the final chase, I can’t believe that Rosicky’s final volley went over the bar, no accuse of course, to hit a volley is excellent by itself, to hit the target with it is extraordinaire, pure class, pity that this is not happening to him any more, he had it on his boots before, Almunia’s decisions were really poor, the deflected ball into his net from his knee, unbeleavable, it’s an expertise to manage that, and the running out of goal with the third goal, it looks really as he didn’t know what to do, and then that the player can pass into the middle, he looked totally next to him, horrible
    but of course the whole defending was horrible, Koscielny hesitating with the second goal, and then the ball went throught their legs several times, I could count at least three times, with the first goal, and two times at least with the secon goal, great deal for West Brom, I must say, 😎

  14. Filipino Dan
    September 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    Often when a young keeper is thrown in at the deep end, for injury or suspension reasons, he will perform well. I say put Szczesny in for Chelsea.

    It’s a massive risk but it could prove to be a masterstroke. The boy has balls, coming out and moaning to the media, so give him the chance.

    Fatboy said we’ve nothing to lose – well, it would be a blow to Almunia, Mannone and Fabianski. But if it works, then who cares.

  15. Filipino Dan
    September 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    Almunia has an ‘elbow injury’ ,according to the BBC, and will not travel for the game tomorrow.

  16. GunnerBoss
    September 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Now, what say u guys about Odemwingie? Could we have bought him instead of slow-motion Chamakh?

    I said Song was to blame for the Sunderland game cos he keeps bombing forward , now what has happened again? Song is still to blame kind of, if he continues like this, then, we will need to get a new DM.

    Eboue should have been completely on the RWF instead of swapping with Nasri on the CM position, he clearly does not know what to do when he is in the CM position. Do we now blame him or the one that put him there? Eboue is better for European football, Wilshere and Rosicky should have started, do DAMAGE and get replaced.

  17. Gregg T
    September 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

    Don’t blame the players first, it is down to the coach. Have you ever seen a ferguson or mourinho team come out expecting points and not working hard? Wenger even said “. I knew after the first five minutes, you saw that it was all flat. It is unusual for us because we are usually a team that has energy. We were just not there. I can’t remember the last time [we were like that].”

    Coaches should set the mental state of the team, and we were not fired up, Wenger never made any changes until it was way too late.

    Secondly, his team selection, no one has picked up on this. What is Eboue doing playing for us at any position other than RB? Look at his stats, he scores once every 20 games and assists once every 15 games or something like that, play him exclusively at RB or not at all. Why was Diaby played? Wilshere is becoming important, if Diaby needs minutes, he needs to KO Wilshere not walk back in. Why was Nasri played on the fanks again? We all know his best moments for us have come in a central position. if we have no wide players, change the tactics.

    Third, lack of discipline, even Barcelona are very well drilled, Song has decide he can be like Lampard going forward so much. Wenger should be stopping that immediately, but he doesn’t.

    Fourth, don’t blame Almunia, first goal, Koscielny had a rush of blood to the head, Song was so casual, clear goal. Second goal, Arshavin got nutmegged, Clichy got nutmegged, Song jogged on his marker, the shot had power even if Almunia flopped. Third goal, West Brom built from their left back slots, got clean passes forward, and had men unmarked to score, even if Almunia came out, we had no one rushing to the line to stop a goal.

    Repeat any of this on Sunday, and we will have a good bashing again vs us.

  18. MTY
    September 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    It was wrong to start Nasri on the flanks. In fact, he should have taken Cesc’s role for the day.
    I agree with all the comments about Eboue. He should be the understudy of Sagna & nothing more!!
    And Andrew, you always skip the manager’s failings in your posts! Where was the leadership? (I already mentioned this yesterday in the other post). Why he doesn’t engage with his team? He always assumes a passive role….for God’s sake, look at the other managers! They are constantly barking orders & trying different formations.
    AW is just static & stubborn, I dare say. Football is a dynamic game & unless you adapt to changing conditions during the course of the 90 minutes, you only make life difficult for yourself & the team.

  19. ha
    September 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    never mind the weekend result ..the worrying thing is Fabianski will start tomorrow ..god help us cant trust that cunt at all…

  20. Andre
    September 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    we need to be honest with ourselves, if Wenger is not, and it mean admit we will never win anything with a keeper like Mr. Almunia..

    somebody whould start to list all his boo-boos?? it’s better no…….

    and anyway i don’t understand why Arsenal philosophy is to put on the youngers and in this case not…..why don’t play Mannone or Sceszny and let them grow up as did with Fabregas,Walcott,Gibs,Wishere etc etc…they can make mistakes of course, Almunia didn’t??????

  21. Ianinja
    September 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Pragmatic analysis Andy, the part about Song’s hair made me laugh. But of course we all rather he stick to what he does best which is break up play.

    I agree Arsenal will have a big say about who will win the league this year but so do Bolton(drew with ManU) ManCity, Spurs, Sunderland and at least 10 other clubs.

    All I hope is the Arsenal team keep their head down and work from game to game, no more complacent attitude, I really thought they learned from previous two season.

    You are very kind to Almunia but he is not the excellent keeper we need, everyone, blog, media, ex-players, pundit and so on can see this. I hate to agree with the british media but this time they really got it spot on. Repeating the rhetoric everyone has said, Almunia is not a first choice keeper but a very very good backup for maybe 3 games at the most. However as I have always stressed we have to get behind him because he has the confidence of a 15 year old girl, kinda like the girl in high school who is overly cautious whether her boobs are the right size or not.

    Oh yeah I’m installing a punching bag in the living area in preparation of two more years of Almunia and simmilar type of performance. If that dosen’t work I’m enroling in yoga classes.

  22. kingtony
    September 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    yes wenger made a howling mistake in failing to capture a new goalkeeper.
    and that fellow at fulham is the absolute minimum,infact we should be after an even better one,someone to compare to our great keepers of the distant past.Alll the top teams have excellent keepers,its absolutely fundamental.
    but we are stuck til january,so plea,please,please give Mannone the office right now,The poor guy has done very little wrong,infact last year against fulham he was absolutely MAGNIFICENT.
    what has this guy done to deserve been ignored compared to the hapless almunia and flapanski?

  23. The Black Panther
    September 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    Black Panther’s thoughts of the day…

    1. For all the world I want to bitch bitc bitch about the woes of the perfomance, but in the end I’m not going to. I think the team had a shocker, but if not for these types of upsets why would anyone bother watching football in the first place? Every once in a while it has to be your team that is the fall guy.

    2. Again. Get rid of Eboue. Everyone it quite right to describe him as a comedian, though I would point out that the majority of laughs come from his actual football inadequacies.

    3. I can’t understand why Wenger cannot find a decent goalie. It’s time to splash out and get the job done. Money lost now will return ten fold when such a change renders trophies. It’s true that great, reliable, goalies are actually somewhat of a rarity right now, but in the end Arsenal are supposed to be one of the “big four”…aren’t they???

    4. Chelsea have had a dream start (ok there was that Man City thing), but let’s wait and see what happens when injuries and big fixtures come their way. What’s important is that when we come to play them we show up with gustow. Teams need to actually FEAR us again. We need to revive the big googlies of the Viera era. Times when a gay swedish man with a red hot mohawk used to fight his own countrymen in training. That kinda thing. For the Black Panther** there never has been a season where the big games for Arsenal mean so much. Win those (or at least get results) = good times ahead.

    **is quite worried about his George Costanzaish reference to himself in third person.

    6. Don’t forget there was discussion on this site for making a DVD about the CC win over those other London twats in white not but a week gone. What an incredible performance we all boasted. And although a comparison of that game and the West Brom one may bring anger and frustration–such was the difference between them–at least we have a problem of not being able to unleash our talent rather than not having it there in the first place.

    7. Song stabalises everything.

    8. Token AARRRGGGHHHHH ARSENAL ARRRGHGHGHG point.

    9. With the live-by-the-sword-die-by-the-sword game that we play, these type of upsets are inevitable every once in a while. The question has to be asked: would you, as a fan, enjoy a hellishly defensive team just for the sake of winning a title? I would rather watch the drama of an entertaining team than following a bunch of tinmen that win. In saying that, nothing beats a flowing, dynamic team that top the table. Fingers crossed.

    10. If you look at things overall, everyone at the top his having a few problems. At least we don’t have a star player that gets caught with his dong in a hooker. It could be worse, eh? That window for Arsenal is wiiiiiddeeeee open and it might just be our year.

  24. Lil Weezy
    September 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    How many times will you guys understand that this team without Fabregas becomes an average team! Sure the players have quality but the balance is never right without him in the lineup.
    He makes everyone looks good, he is the glue that makes this Arsenal Team be a cut above.

    Now put in Eboue, and Diaby in the middle in a 4-3-3 , that is pure suicide!

    And oooh My god does Alumnia serves such little purpose.. when was the last time this guy got us a win? I watched other Prem goalkeepers and week in and week out, they give their team a chance to win..

    I cant recall one time, we were saved by our goalie!

  25. LilWeezy@ laninja
    September 27, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Btw.. How can Song do well when he has Lazy Eboue to his right and Lazier Diaby to his left??

  26. Adam Sommer
    September 27, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Obviously it was too soon for Diaby to come back, and others such as Eboue seemed to be suffering a hang over from the Spurs match. I agree, and think this was an isolated fluke. Seems like these type of matches happen when we have a bad captain, or the captain is sidelined due to injury. Not sure if Cesc could have changed things, but maybe the attitude of the team could have been affected for the better.

    Party On!

  27. Imad
    September 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    I believe Arsene Wenger continues to make these mistakes, where he doesnt see how the game is flowing and doesnt make the right changes at the right time to win a game like this. Wilshere and Rosicky came in a little too late. he never makes his changes on half time. and thats where i think he should have introduced them, but hes always seems worrried to hurt his players egos, maybe he fits in the “hes too nice” category to hurt his players feelings. but he has to do what he has to do. I am baffelled that he couldnt see what we saw. he always if hes going to sub. does it around the 70th minute, more or less. the dynamic of the game changed when those guys came in. and also Almunia tried to hard, but it was a hit or miss for him. i dont think he did any worse than the other gunners. Chelsea loses away to man. city, and arsenal loses at home to WBA. lets compare these results. and Arsenal really comes off real short on this one. so they better fix all the mistakes they did and hope they will give Chelsea there third loss.

  28. GunnerBoss
    September 28, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    @blackPanther – Point 2 is very ridiculous or absurd.
    When Sagna is out injured, of course we invite the blackPanther.

  29. SoccerBOY
    September 28, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    I believe the loss was entirely due to horrible goal keeping it was incredibly disappointing i am an major Arsenal fan from CANADA! And even us Canadians know its time for a major goalie overhaul, and i dont want 37 year old Mark Schwarzer Arsenal needs a decent young keeper Handanovic, Akinfeev, Marchetti, Benaglio, Rene Adler would all be a dream change. I would like to see some silverware at Arsenal this season show up Chelsea goal machines with beautiful passing football and maybe a keeper that could catch a cross. PLEASE ARSENE make some changes.
    Thanks

  30. Darragh
    September 28, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    “Yes, they came on at a time when the entire team had lifted but I still thought Diaby and Eboue’s lack of intensity was excusable, particularly when compared with Samir Nasri, who was strong here despite playing 120 minutes on Tuesday night.”

    Sorry Andy, do you mean IN-excusable? Sorry to be nitpicky, but I was confused – you means Diaby and Eboue had the right to be excused for their woeful performance?

    The manager should have definitely started a Nasri, Wilshere, Song midfield. Not the one we had on Saturday.

  31. MTY
    September 28, 2010 at 7:32 am #

    If we want to win something, then definitely we won’t get a better chance than this season (that is despite the increasing competition in the PL). Why I’m saying this? Well, ManU are not the same since they sold Ronaldo & this season Rooney’s lack of form will cost them dearly. They will struggle this season; that’s for sure.
    And Chelsea? They made a flying start but they shipped out a lot of their experienced players in the summer & as a result they are left with a small squad.
    If they face an injury crisis like what we are going through now, then they are too in serious trouble.
    Definitely both teams will drop more points than last season… and that leaves you with two simple ifs……if we only signed a decent goalie in the summer & if Wenger for once gets proactive in his approach during matches (read Imad’s comments above me), this would have been our season.
    And both our rivals, for sure, will return with stronger squads next term.

  32. JonnyN
    September 28, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Lil Weezy – I recall Almunia saved a penalty at home against Spurs and then Bendtner came off the bench shortly afterwards to head a winner – must have been a couple of seasons ago. That’s it. Over 160 games and one memorable save. Says it all.

  33. JonnyN
    September 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Actually that last comment was a tad unfair. MotD highlighted a brilliant save by Almunia last season after having ridiculed him for the previous few weeks. So make that 2 decent saves in over 160 games. Most other decent keepers average that per game.

  34. Bank CardUSA
    March 23, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    Reading at near means of your enjoyable post, inclination further me to do so sometimes.

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