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Arsenal threw away two vital points in their pursuit of the Premier League Title on Sunday afternoon. It remains to be seen whether the wound is fatal or not but with the title deciding clashat East Manchester Oil Incorporated only ten days away, this blow could hardly have come at a worse time for Arsenal. Concerningly, it is the second game running where we have let a two goal lead slip. Arsenal have shown very few chinks in their armour this season but are the cracks finally starting to show?

In terms of team selection, Arteta was forced into a tweak at left back with the injured Zinchenko replaced by the buccaneering Scotsman, Tierney. And the game could not have started better for the Gunners. Following some intricate play on the right, Odegaard played in Ben White who flashed a delicious ball across the face of the goal for Gabriel Jesus to tap home his fourth goal in three starts. At least someone has found form at the business end of the campaign. And three minutes later it got even better for the Arsenal. Martinelli sent in a sumptuous cross for Martin Odegaard and the skipper calmly volleyed home a controlled finish. We were in complete control of the game. And then we hit the self-destruct button. Partey needlessly conceded possession in the midfield to future Gooner, Declan Rice, who played in Paqueta. There shouldn’t have been any danger, but Gabriel slipped at the worst possible moment, and despite his desperate attempts to pull out, his Brazilian compatriot clipped his knee and tumbled over for a penalty. Said Benrahma stepped up to send Ramsdale the wrong way. Talk about déjà-vu!

We then seemed to just stop playing. We were able to make it through to half time, but it was after the break where things really began to unravel. West Ham continued to dominate us, and we struggled to find an answer. We were given a golden opportunity to silence the home crowd and restore our two goal cushion when Antonio handled following a corner. Saka stepped up to take. Here we go. This to all but end the game and pick up a vital three points on the road. But excruciatingly, Saka blazed it wide. It was a poor penalty and there is no getting way from that. It was his first miss for us and his first since the Euros. As soon as he missed it there was a nagging feeling that it would come back to bite us as I voiced to CER at the time. And I was unfortunately proved right just a few minutes later. We initially cleared well following yet more West Ham pressure but our line was far too slow to break out and Jarrod Bowen crashed the ball home at the near post. 2-2. And, in all honesty, it was the least the Hammers deserved. But more to the point it was the least Arsenal deserved too. We had needlessly let them back into a game which we had complete control over. But at least there was still well over half an hour to respond. Would Arsenal not at last up the tempo? (Narrator’s voice): “The Arsenal did, indeed, not up the tempo”. Instead we seemingly decided playing ninety percent of our passes backwards and sideways, mostly in our own half, was the answer. It was indeed the answer. Just not to the question “ how can we have any chance of winning this game?”. We failed to fashion a single clear cut chance for the rest of the game. It was in fact The Hammers who came closest to finding a winner with Antonio seeing a header crash off the bar. Just like last week we were lucky to come away with a point when we had initially put ourselves in a great position to take all three. Infuriating. So now the post mortem will begin while we prepare for a must win clash against a hapless Southampton side on Friday night. A Friday night fixture against the division’s basement side in front of our own fans and the Sky cameras with the whole world watching? What could possibly go wrong?

16 Drinks to “Irons Cast Hammer Blow to Young Guns”

  1. 1
    North Bank Ned says:

    A fair and honest assessment, 21CG. Too much chaos and not enough consistency and control.

  2. 2
    bt8 says:

    The game we all saw, unfortunately. Thanks 21cg. In the cold light of 24+ hours later it still feels like 2 points dropped (4 if you count Liverpool) but being top of the league must keep plugging away and giving up on nothing until the end as Super Mik will be demanding of the players. Experience gained.

  3. 3
    TTG says:

    Very fair report 21CG and a good assessment of what went wrong .
    I’m not the most relaxed of tv watchers when Arsenal are playing but as we sauntered through the first half I was very comfortable. I thought Rice handled for the challenge on Partey but part of me was assessing how he responds to adversity . Very well on this evidence .
    Arteta will know there are deficiencies in playing quality, temperament and attitude and you can’t fix them all at the same time . I worried about why Partey was so poor but GSD pointed out the impact Tierney has on his positioning. Who would have thought KT3 was a liability ? I still really like him but he doesn’t fit Artetaball .
    Arteta’s skills as a man manager come into play. If we go to the Emptihad seven points clear and get something we are in a great position. Southampton first though

  4. 4
    Goonersince54 says:

    We have been flying very close to the Sun pretty much all season, but unfortunately in the past couple of weeks we have forgotten to wear our hat and sunblock.
    But unlike our fellow sun chaser the God Icarus, who flew too close and paid the ultimate price, we are still in the Title contest, albeit a bit singed.
    But I can’t help but wonder whether Saka’s penalty miss has opened the door for City to complete an unlikely treble to match that feat from Utd back in the 98/99 season.
    The circumstances are eerily familiar to that infamous night when DB missed a penalty against Utd that cost us a Cup Final place.
    We still had 6 league games to play, and won 4 of them, but then the biggest heartbreak of all, when in the penultimate game of the season against Leeds with both us and Man Utd level on points at the top of the table, we lost our left back Winterburn to injury and our right back, dear old lumbering Oleg Luzhny had to cross over to cover for him.
    Sadly the only goal of the game came late in the 2nd half when Oleg lost his bearings, got caught out of position, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took advantage and scored with a decisive header.
    Utd won the Title on the final day beating that lot down the road, to win by one point 79 to 78.
    Goal diff was also very very close from memory, so a point at Leeds would have made the final day very very interesting.
    I have a feeling this season could easily mirror 98/99, but I have everything crossed for the final outcome to be in our favor.

  5. 5
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers 21CG. Tough game to write up but you’ve done a top job.

    If we go to the Emptihad and beat City in the league for the first time in 8 years it would be a real coming-of-age performance and would be huge for us. Of course, a better points talk going into it would have been preferable, especially as we’ve dropped 4 points from winning positions, but it is what it is.

    I really never saw us winning 17 matches in a row to romp to the title, so a few dropped points is hardly surprising. City are on a great run themselves, but every game in this league is tough.

    It’s all to play for.


  6. 6
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Points tally.

  7. 7
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Excellent summary 21CG.

    I think our first choice eleven — Ramsdale; White Saliba Gabriel Zinchenko; Partey Xhaka; Saka Ødegaard Martinelli; Jesus —whenever they started together didn’t drop a single point this season. Our drop in collective quality (the total is being greater than the sum of its parts) is not inconsiderable when any of these are replaced. Tomiyasu of last year for White is probably the only replacement that doesn’t drop the quality that much but even then White has become such a key contributor to the attacking moves that Tomi-san will need to up his game next season. Tierney is an excellent traditional left winger but asking him to deputize for the Zinchenko’s unique “extra floating man everywhere” role doesn’t play to his strength.

    Holding — reliable enough defender as he is — just doesn’t let us play the front footed game that Saliba allows for. With Saliba-Gabriel our defensive line moves up, Partey stays up much higher, opposition tactics of through long balls are completely nullified by the defensive duo’s athleticism and reading, and Saliba’s range of passing makes us much more suited to rapidly switch the locus of attack.

    We have made remarkable progress in last two years in squad building, but we still have a bit to go to be able to play our best football consistently across the season while being able to rotate as necessary and not always start with the same eleven. In a different era this team would have been unstoppable but we are competing against squads that can field nearly two first elevens.

    As Martin said in the post-match interview, we move on to the next one and all focus is only on the next one.

  8. 8
    Bathgooner says:

    A fine report. Didn’t see the game but you flesh out well the bare bones I gleaned from multiple WhatsApp comments. Chins up Gooners. We’ve been down this road before Whether it turns out like ‘71, ‘89, ‘98 or the tragic ‘99 which Clive recalled accurately for me and is another scar in my memories, our young team have done us proud.


  9. 9
    Goonersince54 says:

    Very surprised to see only 7 responses, discounting GSD@6, to the post match summary of Hammers match.
    This is very very unusual.
    Unheard of even.
    Are the usual loyal band of Holics still grumpy after throwing away 2 precious points on Sunday. ??
    Are they resigned to the juggernaut that is City overwhelming us as we reach the final furlong. ??
    If that’s the case, it is going to be a very long week.
    I for one remain optimistic, as I have heard on the grapevine that Our esteemed landlord’s new blog renamed ” Holics in Heaven ” is read avidly by the Big Man himself.
    So I expect Divine intervention in our favor before the season is done.

  10. 10
    OsakaMatt says:

    Leave it to Dennis!
    Yes, I am still an optimist too Clive. All to play for and a great position to be in – only two teams in the league get to be in the fight this year and one of them is us! Been a while now and I had forgotten how great it is. And a belated thanks to 21CG for a fair report.

    I think it’s quiet Clive partly because of this team and this situation.
    I always want The Arsenal to win of course and have done for 50 years or whatever it
    is now but for some reasons I feel particularly invested in this team, they come across so
    well and they play such nice football that you want them to win – and I think this is going for most neutrals too. Though another reason for neutral support is of course the good guys always need a supervillain to get you more involved. In this case Shitteh and their corrupt ownership fit the role very well. Anyway, I think a lot of the support are holding their breath just now and praying.

  11. 11
    North Bank Ned says:

    Not giving up hope here, either, Clive, and won’t until it is mathematically gone, but like the team, I am taking it one game at a time.

  12. 12
    Up4GrabsNow! says:

    WHam defended well in banks of five and I don’t recall Fabianski having to do much after we scored. We collectively went to sleep for the last 80 minutes. Yes, we were missing Willie & Zinny but good lord, the likes of Partey, Xhaka and Odegaard need to up their game and be leaders. I think there was some hiding on the pitch going on.

    We need to roll the Saints on Friday and go the Etihad with some confidence restored. Citeh can go half throttle in their next two games (CL & FA Cup) and will be loaded for bear when we visit. Not an easy assignment for us – we need to summon the spirit of 1989!

  13. 13
    ClockEndRider says:

    Good point, Clive, and apologies for not commenting sooner. I think it was down to the sheer shock at the poverty of the performance, or rather that the balance between Jekyll and Hyde was quite so marked within a single game. No game is entirely perfect but watching 10-15 minutes of Dr Jekyll any 75-80 of Mr Hyde just came out of nowhere. Having had time to consider, I do think it’s down to having a young squad without sufficient depth to keep things fresh. And if that is the worst thing we have to worry about, then we really are in a first world situation. We have to remember that, unlike City, we really are a work in progress; the journey, not the destination. And even to have been competing this far with City shows just how far we’ve come.
    And thanks, 21CG, for putting together the report so promptly. Apologies for my slothful reaction to sending it in.

  14. 14
    Trev says:

    Thanks 21CG from this slow responder !
    My sloth has been down to pressure of work – some of us still do, you know !
    I’m still optimistic too and also used to the ups and downs, particularly at this time in the season. It’s exactly why I hate all the calculating of how many points we should and shouldn’t win during the run in as relegation fighters scrap for their lives and the top teams begin to suffer from the overload of continuing European involvement – Oilers please note !

    I wonder if we were / are carrying a few more knocks than we know about on Sunday as there were some uncharacteristic performances going on. There were also some very obvious drops in quality, both “footballistically “ (Arsene) and tactically due to our missing first teamers. No need to name names because we are a team with a superb spirit. A team, incidentally, who have still won more matches than anyone else in the league and still have the title in their own hands.

    Were it not for the oilers dodgily acquired and spent billions, ( much more to unfold on that yet) we would have walked this league this season and I don’t think a single one of us saw that coming last August. I’ve been through too many heartaches with Arsenal to get upset by one that hasn’t yet, and might not even happen. Maybe the last two games will steel us into a reaction at the Emptihad that will see us through.

    Whether we eventually win this title or not, this club and this team and these still very young players have done an amazing job and there will be no criticism from me.

    Time to believe, Holics, and hope the fat lady stumbles up the stage steps before she even starts singing.

  15. 15
    bt8 says:

    Excellent drink @9 Clive and I agree there’s plenty of reason to hold out hope even as we may have suffered a hammer blow it certainly was not fatal. Young gunners resilience all to show at this point.

  16. 16
    scruzgooner says: