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Posted by Sam Limbert on 04/02/2012

Arsenal's recent run of form has been fantastic, but our celebrations about claiming third place have been premature. The ‘Mind The Gap' jokes, Spurs' demise and our own winning streak have been worth celebrating and enjoying, however we can't assume that we'll finish above Tottenham and that third place is ours.

Momentum is a strong thing in football, and we've used it brilliantly to our advantage recently as we turned the momentum against Spurs through Bacary Sagna's thumping header in the North London Derby. We now have to work hard to make sure that the slip up at Loftus Road, and Tottenham's win against Swansea, isn't as big a momentum swinger as Sagna's header. Maybe it was complacency, but the team seemed to take their eyes off the ball against Queens Park Rangers and there wasn't quite the same level of work rate and incisive attacking that we displayed during our winning run.

We do need to put the defeat in some perspective though. The fact we're in a battle for third place at all is brilliant considering how dark some of days were this season, and we have to give credit to QPR. They've beaten Chelsea and Liverpool at Loftus Road, and are in a relegation scrap where others around them are picking up points. They had to raise their game, and they did.

On this blog, as someone that has always been a staunch supporter of Arsene Wenger, even I suggested earlier in the season that we could be nearing time for a change at the top of the club. In hindsight, I was too hasty in that suggestion, and I’m glad that Wenger has proved us all wrong in the way we’ve improved in the last few weeks. If the QPR game does turn out to be a one-off, then we can still keep going and hold off Spurs. If the match does send our form downhill again, we could go back to battling just to make the top four and the feel good factor will disappear again.

Some parts of the media have made a lot of the fact that Arsenal’s defensive woes reappeared at Loftus Road. Generally, our defence has improved immeasurably in the last few weeks, with Wojciech Szczesny’s services almost being redundant in some games. It was worrying to see Thomas Vermaelen make two mistakes in one match, however once again they need to be put in perspective.

The first one was an error of judgement as the Belgian wasn’t quick enough to nip in front of Taarabt and got turned too easily. Ordinarily, Vermaelen is an expert at jumping in front of an attacker, but he shouldn’t have tried to do so when Taarabt was still a safe distance away from goal, allowing him the chance to have a clear run towards Szczesny. Given where Taarabt was, one of the midfielders could have been in a deeper position to cut off the supply to him. The QPR man did well to turn Vermaelen, but he shouldn’t have been given the opportunity to do so.

The blame for the second goal has also been attributed to Vermaelen, and it’s hard to argue against that, but it was more down to luck than judgement. As he did in the San Siro, Vermaelen slipped at the crucial moment having covered across well to try and stop Jamie Mackie. Having seen that Vermaelen was down, the midfield should have busted a gut to get back and support Laurent Koscielny. As it was, the Frenchman was trying to mark Bobby Zamora so couldn’t get out to the onrushing QPR midfielders. The goal was eminently avoidable, even after Vermaelen slipped.

The Belgian’s form has been one of the reasons we’ve picked up points in the manner we have recently, but he shouldn’t be exempt from criticism. His errors and misfortune did lead to us conceding two goals on Saturday, however he wasn’t helped by those around him when in those situations. It was a surprise that help didn’t arrive as the team spirit and willingness to run and work hard for the team has helped us move up the table.

After we won at Everton with Aaron Ramsey playing on the left, I could understand why Wenger chose to do the same at Loftus Road. However I’m struggling to see how doing that could be beneficial in the long term. Ramsey is a talented footballer, but he isn’t a winger. Being able to have him play on the left is good when we’re short of players in that position, but Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were on the bench, so why not start one of them? It feels like Wenger is trying to fit Ramsey into a team that doesn’t have a space for him at the moment. That isn’t to say it won’t in the future, but the balance of the team is affected without natural width on the left that Gervinho or the Ox would provide. Having Ramsey able to play on the left is a good option, but it shouldn’t be the first choice one.

There were still positives from the game on Saturday. Theo Walcott is enjoying a good run of form in terms of performances and his goal scoring. He was unlucky to hit the post with his first effort that led to the goal before finishing smartly on the rebound. He has really stepped up his game in the second half of the season and I’m hopeful that he’ll sign a new contract in the summer as he’s showing he’s worth keeping at the club.

It’s hard to know whether the team were complacent, felt like the hard work was done, or had already counted their chickens before they hatched. When there are seven games left in the season, whatever a team’s position in the league, the players have to make the most of the last chances to win points. Often, the way the season finishes massively dictates how the next one starts. We finished last season badly, and then got worse at the start of this campaign. These seven games aren’t just about securing third place, they’re about making sure we go into next season ready to show we’re aiming higher than third. Falling asleep and relaxing at Loftus Road won’t do that.

We have the ideal chance to make a statement and show that QPR was a blip by beating Manchester City next weekend. In most teams’ context, City aren’t out of form, but in the context of their season, City are struggling. The pressure of the title race appears to be getting to them, so they might not be relishing a trip to the Emirates. Our home form, and the atmosphere at the Emirates, has been excellent, so there is a genuine chance of us getting a good result. We’ve had a wakeup call, and if the defeat makes the team go back to working hard and not taking third place for granted, we can still make something of the season by finishing in the top three.


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Comments

Posted by tryme on 04/02/2012

youve had it made.
coys

Posted by mwylie on 04/02/2012

Perspective is everything. In February-March Arsenal won everything bar a draw with Bolton, while our nearest rivals seemed to lose eveything (of course Arsenal beating each of T'Ham, Liv & NUFC helped)! We played well, and we got lucky given our opponents' form - hence 3rd.

Let's be real. After the turmoil of summer and 2-1-4 to start the season, it was obvious a top 4 finish was the only logical objective. That is still very much within Arsenal's grasp.

The "magic number" remains "17", but now there is only 7 games for Arsenal to earn 17 points (unless Chelsea and NUFC drop points of course). The loss to QPR means we will likely need a victory against either Man City or Chelsea (hopefully both :) - that's the impact of losing at Loftus Road. Shame.

Sam, I totally agree with your comments re Ramsay on wing. I was also surprised to see Oxlade-Chamberlain substituted into the centre of the park, when we needed attacking width. What do you make of these decisions?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. They were slightly strange, but I don't blame Wenger for trying things. I just think he could have been more conventional by starting the Ox or Gervinho.

Posted by Anonymous on 04/02/2012

Sam,

We may never likely have a completely, completely healthy midfield in which everyone is available - but I would like to ask you for your opinion on the potential for discord in the locker room that may arise if, indeed, our midfield becomes more crowded than it is now. I agree with you - Arsene Wenger appears to be trying to fit Aaron Ramsey into a team that does not need him at the moment (as much as we all love him). It may not matter so much for this season's run-in...but, if next season, we do indeed have everyone we have now fit and healthy, and also follow through with some of the signings that are in the pipes, there is that likelihood that we will see a really crowded midfield, and that some of the lads will be unhappy about playing time, no? As a fan, I want to keep all of them, of course, and then some. But can we? Or do we need to offload over the off-season? Are Ramsey and Rosicky, Gervinho and Ox players we can keep for the long term?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. If Wilshere, Diaby, Frimpong and Coquelin return to full fitness, I doubt we'll sign any midfielders in the summer, despite the rumours. We're well covered in that area. We're always likely to have injuries in there, so having one or two more than other teams might do isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Posted by Arsenal Army on 04/02/2012

Old Habit Die Hard..I already mentioned our tradition towards end of the season-Lost to our winning games make us fail to compete the title challenge in previous years and i am worry because this season is not for title but the fourth spot.

I remembered AW statement that we will play like a final for every each games until end of the season.Did anybody feel that we play like a final yesterday? I think QPR and Swansea play more like a final against us. Not Arsenal.

This is Arsenal. You cannot praise them. They only work well when everybody bang them and give them pressure. Once they feel comfortable, things not work anymore. We do really have mentality issue.

I also realize one thing. Arsenal play well when open games but when the opponent start tighten the defense and pack more players in the box, mostly we unable to penetrate and score. Newcastle, WBrom, Fulham, Wigan, Stoke successful did that in the previous year. The only way we can score in that situation when ......con't

Posted by Anon on 04/02/2012

The QPR game was a game we needed to win given that ManCity and Chelsea are potential tough games. Why Wenger opted to play Ramsey at left midfield with The Ox and Gervinho available still baffles me. Ramsey is good no doubt but sometimes you see he doesn‘t know what to do with the ball, breaks up attack never willing to go forward and the team suffers from that. All that were evident with him at Loftus Road.

Posted by Arsenal Army on 04/02/2012

Fabregas or Nasri will use their skill to dribble or do a unique pass inside the box which they will score a very fantastic goal or brought down for penalty.
Today both of them no more with us,so nobody able to do this solo run into the box anymore.AW need to find out solution for this.We don't have good long shooter and a very good header as what Adebayour did for Totenham.
Looking at 4 teams [for 3/4th spot] next 7 games, Totenham definitely have very good advantage to take 3rd spot. Newcastle have same opportunity with us but Chelsea look more advantage to grab 4th spot unless they also make same stupid mistake like us.
Now, is about the willingness for each team to fight to the end will make the different and I spot Chelsea already push which is Newcastle had the same momentum like us and they look like got more fighting spirit and good mentality and I won't be surprised if they can overtake us.
So, Arsenal..stop dreaming. We have another 2 bottom teams to play.That really scare me

Posted by Sainty on 04/02/2012

Tough game to watch with expectations being so high, and the next game against man city may decide our place this year. Here's hoping the team responds with a game-of-the-year performance.

As tough as it is to say, I think Ramsey needs to sit on the bench for a year and learn his craft. The offense really seems to struggle with flow and passing when he is in there. He always seems out of position, and his passing is often astray. He is young and a year with no pressure may make a world of difference. The problem with young aresenal players is that they all get compared to Cesc and it is very unrealistic.

Is it just me or does RVP look spent? How many games has he played this year? 90%? I applaude his attitude and gameness, but he hasn't looked the same since our win against Milan. It would be great to give him a rest, but I doubt we can afford it. I knew the game was lost when Chamakh went in, which is a bad sign for a replacement.

Posted by Rick on 04/02/2012

As usual, thanks Sam for the great article. Wenger plays a a natural midfielder(Ramsey/Ben A) as opposed to a natural winger/striker(Gervinho/Ox) in away games because he is thinking, in away games, we need people who will be willing to come back and defend. People willing to run all day because in away games, the home team will try to attack. Home games he will play the winger/strikers.I understand it. The loss in Loftus road is clearly due to complacency. They outworked us. If we worked as hard as we have been doing before that game, we would have won the game period! Any defender can be beaten. Vermaleen can be beaten or could slip. The whole team did not work very hard. When we do, because of our skill set, we can beat anybody.
Man City game is oing to be tough however, if we work very hard and press them all over the pitch, it will not be close. Our ball handling skills a way superior to theirs. What do you think.

Posted by KK on 04/02/2012

Good write up Sam. I completely agree with the Ramsey comment (see my post on last week's blog). It simply narrows us, and there were multiple occasions where Rosicky and Ramsey nearly ran into each other. I would be very surprised to see Ramsey start against Man City. Theo can really do some damage to either Kolorov or Clichy, and we'll need the extra width provided by Gervinho or the Ox in order to keep city's back 4 from being able to pile in to help out their left back.

Also, this was one of the first poor matches that I've seen Song have in a while. He was overly ambitious and took far too many risks for a CDM when there is a simple lateral or forward pass available. Hopefully this was just an off day because arsenal's form relies a lot on his form.

Finally, City will probably play right into our hand unless Mancini parks the bus again, but I don't think he will considering their need for 3 points. Should be a wide open game with lots of room for theo and ox to run. COYG

Posted by Raza on 04/02/2012

We needed to win this game; its a silly defeat, but its deserved coz we didnt play with the same urgency shown at Goodison. TV5 was at fault; but its okay, he can have bad moments too. Starting Ramsey was criminal from AW when AOC and Gervinho were available; its so irritating when AW gets stubborn about persisting with a player who shouldn't be starting (Arshavin anyone). Hopefully, AOC will return to the lineup against City and we can go back to winning ways, while Spurs struggle against Sunderland.

Posted by AnArsenalFan on 04/02/2012

Defense away from home.

That's what it comes down to. Our home record is as good as anyone's in the EPL. But when we leave Emirates, our defense immediately seems out of sorts and that has led to a miserable away record.

Why?

What happens when we leave home that causes us to forget to track the runs of opponents (see QPR's second goal)?

What happens that TV suddenly shies away from challenges (see QPR's first goal)?

Is it a failure to adjust tactics? Is it mentality? Is it the crowd?

Posted by Top_Gooner on 04/02/2012

Sam,
Great write up once again. Always like reading your blog after matches. Question for you. I agree that AW probably wanted to be a little stronger in central midfield which is why he had Ramsey play as he did against Everton. However, against a team like QPR who are going to sit back for the entire 90 minutes, it seems to me that a player that can beat 1-2 players with some trickery would be more useful. Again hindsight is 20/20 but I think in this case, we just got our team selection/tactics wrong. Do you agree?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I do think we were wrong in playing Ramsey on the left in the game when Gervinho and the Ox were available, but as I said in the blog, it was understandable given we did that same at Everton and won.

Posted by titansgunner12thman on 04/02/2012

This loss is Wenger's, as have the others losses been. The team is listless, and the is clearly the fault of the manager. Prior to the game was the time to blast the players. Players tend to take criticism better after a loss. Starting Ramsey was a miss. I just hope Wenger doesn't make Gervinhno lose confidence like he killed Chamakh.
This was clearly Vermaelen's worst game as a gunner. But it highlights our need to revamp the defense. As much as we all hold Vermaelen in high esteem, we may be being a bit to forgiving of him. While he has been our best defender, how can anyone be given a pass considering our shambolic defending over the last few years. I have yet to see any other defense surrender such bad goals. We have had our share of wonder goals scored, but how many times have we had a defender slip and fall, or be out of position. While those wins paper over everything, the time is now to address our defense , before we sign any other positional players.

Posted by david fitch on 04/02/2012

To say the QPR game was a blip only time will tell but you cannot ignore that QPR got it's tactic spot on they used the pitch size to their advantage they denied Arsenal anything wide gave them the ball when it could not hurt them no i think that they out thought and out played Arsenal.Arsenal defense is always one pass from giving up a goal they get caught this time two long passes two goals still think they need a defensive coach to make the back five into one unit so once you get behind one defender there should be cover coming across. Walcott goal was well taken not always easy to controll the ball off the post but if he want's to be taken as a striker he must score 15plus a season at this point just does not score enough.The city game is now a must win with two tricky games to follow until they meet Chelsea so if they are to finish third they need to match Spurs the problem is are they up for a scrap or will the pressure be to much?

Posted by Yusuf Sam on 04/02/2012

Wonderful article as usual Sam! More ink to your pen.

The lost at Loftus Road was a huge blow to our 3rd place aspiration. Vermaelen also did not have a good game, the pitch was horrible and didn't help either. Vermaelen slipped at that crucial moment because of the condition of the pitch.

I am not a fan of Ramsey, and he hasn't done anything special to win me over even in his preferred central mid field role and Wenger insisted and kept playing him. Wenger should give the guy a break, we have better players, why would he be played, worst, on the left?

Sam, do you have any idea why Wenger plays Ramsey? I don't think he deserves the starting place he always get ahead of better players. Do you have any good news for us? On possible signings we are closing on aside Podolski.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think Ramsey is a very good player, and can go on to be a great one, but at the moment it's hard to justify playing him instead of Rosicky, so I'm not sure why he's being played on the left when we have Gervinho and the Ox available. No insider news on new signings, I'm hoping we'll sign Podolski.

Posted by Sam, Jakarta on 04/02/2012

We need players who are fearless in the squad for the remaining season. Players who have no fear to penetrate our opposition defense and shoot to score with power and precision. Players who have no fear to execute clean tackle anywhere on the pitch, especially in midfield. Players who have no fear to try long range shots and able to make sure they are on target.

The way we played last Saturday, sad to say, we didn't have such players. And if that's the way we play all the way to the end of the season, fourth place is the most we can achieve.

I'd love to see Gervinho and Ox play more...they are fearless. Ramsey often seems pathetic.

Posted by GL on 04/03/2012

Perhaps Vermaelen needs better boots?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Yes! He definitely needs to check his studs before games.

Posted by hong kong gooner on 04/03/2012

Good observations Sam on the QPR game. My additional thought is that QPR is actually a very decent side, with some quality individuals. A couple of lapses against them have proved to be fatal. Playing City on Sunday is a totally different proposition. It will be a different kind of game.
Our midfield is not only crowded when everyone is fit. But what we are lacking is a midfield that consistently contributes goals. Arsenal need Rosicky, Ramsey, Arteta and Song to contribute goals a bit more frequently. Fabregas had this issue too early on in his career, before he started to put them away more regularly. Ox can be developed into an attacking midfielder, as he showed against Milan. Seems that he can be more productive there than Ramsey.
Sam, what do you think?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. A few more goals from midfield would definitely be welcome, however we haven't had a striker score as many as RvP for a while, so overall we haven't lost out too much. The Ox could be good as an attacking midfielder, although he's got so much pace at the moment that he's probably better used out wide.

Posted by Ken on 04/03/2012

Yes, the midfield did not help out our defence. And who should be th first to do so?? It is Alex Song. As a holding midfield, he should be doing the job of protecting our defense. Instead, he keep giving the ball away and as early as in the 6th mins. He is also constantly brush aside by bigger and stronger players. We really need a world class holding midfielder to steady the ship and provide defensive cover. We need to get someone in the class of Viera. Please go and get one and sell Song.

Posted by Anonymous on 04/03/2012

I cannot quite understand why Ramsey was played from the start instead of gervinho or ox. Ramsey has looked off form for quite a while and now is not the time to give him the chance to find it. I feel that is what reserve games are for. AW should be playing his strongest 11 till the end of the season and unfortunately that does not include Ramsey at the moment.

Posted by arsenal fan on 04/03/2012

why, why, why... played Ramsey there??? Arsene should've noticed this before. we struggled against Everton and a few games before (example: Milan 1st leg) when he played Ramsey there. he do nothing. play a player out of position when we have Gervinho and Chamberlain who can do better there. i don't uderstand... the best place for Ramsey now is on the bench. watch, learn, training harder, improve his skill, shooting(very poor shooting) etc.......

Posted by InfantryRed on 04/03/2012

My love affair with the Vermaelator has taken a hit, Sam...but I still think he is our best back. His weaknesses were put on show for everyone to see but I still believe if he had adequate support, period, his knack for getting caught out of position would have yielded far less spectacular results for the Rangers. We had about five more quality touches than they did and it seemed our fearlessness in front of goal was put on the backburner. The reality of QPR playing to win the match set in, obviously, and we lost a tad bit of our composure. We had kept it so well since the comeback at Anfield. Another point, Aaron Ramsey is a midfielder...thats it...why Vino or Ox werent installed sooner or from the opening whistle is odd to me. I know Wenger loves all his players but put them where they will easily succeed. Ramsey is no Jack the Ripper but he can create better than Arteta, albeit he's still young. Brace for a Sky Blue and Armory contet...Red out...

Posted by Francis on 04/03/2012

I agree with Sam that Ramsey is a good player with potential but at the moment, I absolutely see no place for him with Rosicky pulling the strings. Ramsey seems to have the tendency to slow down the pace of the game when Arsenal is great when playing at a fast pace.

It was quite a puzzlement why Arsene Wenger decided to go with Ramsey when we should be having the Ox or Gervinho out left. In my opinion, Ox and Gervinho seem more willing to track back and their speed allow them to cover more ground when tracking back too.

Overall, I thought we just did not turned up to win the match at QPR. We lacked the width on the left going forward.

Posted by mustafa on 04/03/2012

A few seasons back before he broke his leg (or rather before Ryan broke it) Ramsey won me over with his strong performances for the gunnerz, but not anymore. Wenger should stop experimenting with him, we need more points to claim automatic CL berth, and Ramsey does not seem to help achieving that. We need a strong line up against Man City, with Chamberlain starting. if the past 2 seasons are any indication, then the best Man City can achieve at the Emirates is a point, and we should not give it to them this time around. Wenger has given away many games this season, but I hope the one against the Rangers was the last.

Posted by Black Hei on 04/03/2012

Hi Sam,

Ramsey's appearance in the side has nothing to do with favouring a player. For tough away games, Wenger favors an almost 4-5-1-1 formation with RVP up front and Theo on the right. Width on the left is to provided by the fullback. The rest are made up of ball playing midfielders.
In home games, Wenger picks a winger out on the left. It is either Gervinho or AOC. You can see it on edvidence for the Newcastle and Aston Villa games.
One thing is sure, Wenger did not take things for granted against QPR at home thus the defensive nature of the team selection.

Posted by Barry on 04/03/2012

I just couldn't see how Ramsey can fit into the current Arsenal squad. He first touch is always poor and he loves to hold onto the ball. When the opponents get close to him, he get scared and just manages to pass the ball to someone behind him. He was poor when deployed as a CM/AM. It's even worse when he plays on the flank.
Don't just get that excuse anymore. My leg was broken and it takes time to recover. Diego Maradona's ankle was broken but it just made him ever stronger.
Do hate to use the same from Joey Barton but "form is temporary class is permanent". Hope AW finally realise this.

Posted by arsenalDheart on 04/03/2012

There's 3 things I will be blaming in this QPR game.

#Vermaelen
I honestly blame him for playing so good in the past few weeks where it cause our midfield to slack not helping in the defence and too relying on him

#Ramsey
For being too talented where Wenger need to fit him in the squad no matter what's the cause even sacrificing all our first choice left winger

#Arsenal
Good point where you stated that the last few games is where it determines our next season. Teams are not afraid of us any more they now have the confidence to beat us unlike the old days

Look at Liverpool, they are struggling so bad because teams are not afraid of them any more.

I really do respect Man Utd in a way where they still give people chills when they are facing them

I really do hope Arsenal will get back the atmosphere where team will scared before even the match starts

Anyway good post Sam keep up the good posts

Posted by Charles on 04/03/2012

Evrybdy seems 2 single out vermaelen as one of our bst plyz dis season despite his mistake lst saturdy bt 2 me i fink koscielny has been 1 of our bst plyz dis season afta RVP. i jst hope we wont slip away 4rm d top 4 nyc 1 sam.

Posted by uuro on 04/03/2012

The way I see it, we should have gathered 3 points from QPR. We have to coz defeating man city is very tough. If we win in the QPR match, we can be rest-assured that we can get a point or lose to man city anyway. Now we definitely have to defeat man city by whatever means it takes to get there. Naturally, man city will beat other teams after our match to keep pace with man utd. And I never like man utd to claim a trophy. At the end of the day, better to have man city claim a trophy otherwise all the English EPL teams will look very stupid in there with the referees aiding man utd somehow or rather. Where was justice being mettled for a long time now? I can only sigh ...

On the other hand, squacii definitely has to be sold. He's such a toxic to the team for the every second precious on the field. AFC has to review salary wages for players right now. We can't afford to let players get easy money in wonderland and playing unproductive soccer over the long term. ~cont

Posted by uuro on 04/03/2012

fans all over the country paid tickets in and out to watch arsenal games. We have to keep the fans happy for keeping faith with AFC. They have their own bread and butter to take care of. Coz I forsee the commoditiy prices are going up fast over the next five years. The Arsenal players had it easy coz they have the money. They have to think and play harder to win an important trophy first and most of all. It definitely adds to the club's bottom-line and morale up ...I hope Sam can bring up to mr wenger for god's sake. Now win alll the matches like the former Invincibles' winning mentality and toughness

Posted by philip Kacha on 04/03/2012

Hello Sam,
I believe you've got it all right but Asene Wenger is one man that believes strongly in his game plan and formation, thats the reason why he becomes so reckless on bench when things are not working out, he is a good coach but makes silly mistakes at times; Ramsey Aaron is not fit for the squad, he is shallow in thoughts when it comes to passes and coach Wenger is bent on making significance with him or else, he should not have been seen on bench, he likes taking the ball back and killing attack unnecessary, he struggles over balls with Aterta, which is not suppose to be so and QPR were also aware that this young player doesnt like marking his opponent. I rest my case because i dont want to take it personal on Ramsey, he is just a coming up player.

Posted by zebra on 04/04/2012

hi Sam, thanks!

well, there are a lot of negative things here about Ramsey and i think they are a bit strong and unfair. he didn't lose us the game at all. he has done well enough this season, all things considered, but clearly as Rosicky has risen, Ramsey has fallen. it's only natural. ultimately, he didn't seem comfortable in that left position.

i really felt that the RvP miss, one on one, was the turning point. Theo's goal reminded and scared QPR enough and a second goal would've inspired the team to see the match out more strongly. the timing of their second, instead, was enough to deflate our winning run.

i hope that our side does get rid of that sluggishness for city, and i think that they will. it will be a tough game, but we can certainly win tough games now! with a strong back for, Sagna and Gibbs attacking, we will have success. RvP will score a brace! he's due! come on Arsenal!

Posted by Kunle on 04/04/2012

im just tired of all these arsenal whingers. a player had a bad game and then he must be sold, even though such player has been dependable in most games. Most of these people were here last summer asking wenger to sell the useless rosiscky. you hardly see any gooner player clearout wish list without seeing rosiscky name there, but now his name is being sung to high heaven & nobody is giving wenger the credit for sticking to his gun.I cant believe some have started slating wenger for selling Eboue while it was actually them that forced the poor guy out by constant booing. We need to get real & see beyond our nose. Vermaleen is about the best defender in the EPL and we are lucky to have him. it was a shame he slipped at that crucial moment but there was nothing him or anybody could have done about that.someone just wrote here that song should be sold bcos of one bad game.i cant just help but laugh as ALEX SONG is only being debated with yaya toure as to who is best DM in EPL.

Posted by Femi on 04/04/2012

Arsenal ALWAYS collapse at close of season. Even 4th place is looking unlikely. It's time for Wenger to go. British press keep saying he'll lead Arsenal to winning ways again-when it's clear he's past it-because it'll keep Mau U winning even with a clearly weak team. WENGER WORSHIPPERS, OPEN YOUR EYES. 8 YRS WITHOUT SILVERWARE IS NOT IT.

Posted by Anonymous on 04/04/2012

I cannot quite see what talent everyone is talking about when it comes to Ramsey. I'm sorry to say but he is not creative and cannot break open defences with a great through pass. He is not quick enough to play at the flanks and run at fullbacks (most of them are as fast or even faster than him). He is not strong enough to hold the ball. Also he is not great at dribbling and usually passes backwards when under pressure. We already have a great link up midfielder in arteta and sometimes Ramsey just just gets in the way of a flowing move. If Ramsey does have the talent that many people claim, he needs to prove it consistently. Perhaps a loan move or playing in the reserves can get him up to the level that he should be playing at.

Posted by Alexander on 04/04/2012

That loss at Loftus Rd is a costly one.It could have been avoided.Most Arsenal fans believe that Ramsey should not be starting matches.Most of the excellent run that led to our present position was when he was out.Wenger takes no account if players are in good form or not.He plays them any way. It is funny to bring in Chamakh as a substitute to change the way a match is going. Unlike the big teams,Wenger has only one proven striker because he and the board buy cheap, and cheap things are not always reliable.No one says that money should be thrown away.All remaining matches should be taken as finals.If Arsenal survive Chelsea and Man.City there is hope for at atleast 4th. place.The contrary may mean no champions league.If fans want trophies ask for another coach. Arsene is interested in only qualifying for Champions league to make more money."Wengermites" may abuse me but that is my opinion.Thanks Sam for wise comments.

Posted by mamode on 04/04/2012

lets see if Theo statement is right.The Gunners next game is against our bitter rival n we want the londoners to win this game so that the reigning champions can retain their trophy.So Gunners do urself a favour n at same time helping us.
A BIG WIN FOR THE GUNNERS

Posted by Ryan on 04/04/2012

I don't want to suggest anything beyond just current form, etc., but I don't think it's coincidence at all that our winning run came when Aaron Ramsey was on the sidelines for a spell. Despite his early season form, there was a point during our really poor spell where I began to wonder why Ramsey was holding down a regular spot in midfield. I think he'll be great. There are times this year when he has been great. But in a midfield like Arsenal's, where it is the engine that needs to be pulling an awful lot of weight and throwing off an awful lot of heat in the form of creating chances, Ramsey seems at times to be out of his element. Song and Arteta sit deep to break up the opposition and create, Walcott, Gervinho, and Ox create width and add pace, and Rosicky (in the last little phase of the season) has added short, incisive passing around the box. Ramsey doesn't do any of these things really well, even though he does all of them at times. Right now, he'd sub every game for me.

Posted by lulu9 on 04/04/2012

As always, very well written Sam. NB - Prior to the Special One's cameo at the Bridge, The Blues had a 50-year drought and Liverpool something of about 2 decades, yet their fans still kept the faith. Why not share the sentiment with Wenger? I know why not, because every troll about le Prof can't possibly come from an Arsenal faithful. Bottom line - no matter how much time passes, the FAITH should always be kept.

Au revoir Sam

Posted by Alexander on 04/05/2012

Sam,you should not regret suggesting that a change is needed at the top.It is seven years Arsenal has won nothing.That is not what fans should be proud of. Qualifying the club for champions league just to make money is not enough either.Ferguson can stay as long as he wishes because he wins trophies including premier league. He has won champions league several times.Wenger can take Arsenal no further.His job is not to dwell on cost of players but to win matches but he spends time talking of prices of players etc.I have not read where Ferguson mentions money even if it may be more available to him.Arsenal need a new coach end of season to to bring freshness and high aspiration to the club.Wenger has lowered the bar and soon he will be praising the Europa league.When will the fans celebrate a trophy,forget premier league trophy under Wenger, in my assessment.

Posted by blave on 04/05/2012

Unfortunate loss that I think can be attributed to the squad letting their guard down and the other team wanting it more. Your right Sam, we have to be cautious of opening the door for Totteringham and Chelsea.

That said, no need for alarm bells or idiotic statements about selling players or getting rid of the manager. We just need to turn up and maintain focus. Play each match like a cup final.

I believe we will have a strong performance against City. We match up well against them, played them as well as anybody has at their place this season and I am confident the squad will be up for the match.

A good result recovers the lost momentum, puts the pressure squarely back on the chasers and makes a massive statement.

I only wish we could witness a Nasri Frimponging in addition to an Arsenal win but that will have to wait until next season. Hopefully Alex Song will give him a long afternoon on Sunday.

Go Gunners!

Posted by lucian86 on 04/05/2012

3rd place beckons! Arise, mighty Arsenal and slew the noisy Citizens!!!

Posted by uuro on 04/07/2012

WENGER, U BETTER CONSOILDATE 3RD PLACE OR BETTER. IT MAKES SENSE TO BE WITHIN 10 POINTS OF MAN CITY OTHERWISE EPL IS AN EMBRASSING LEAGUE WITH 2 HORSE RACES WITH ALL THE RECENT LOT OF HOT MONEY THROWED IN FOR THE COMMERICALISATION OF EPL. IT WAS NO JOKE AND THE TRUTH COZ EPL IS RECOGNISED WORLDWIDE. JUST IMAGINED PUTTING IN BARACELONA AND RM IN EPL. ALL THE ENGLISH TEAMS WILL BE DESTROYED ...

Posted by uuro on 04/07/2012

DEFINE YOUR HISTORIC MOMENT AGAINST MAN CITY. GET YOUR ASSES UP RIGHT NOW ...

Posted by David Viknes on 04/08/2012

Don't give up hope Gunners you could get the best and I would pray for you all the way. Amen

Posted by mike spy on 04/09/2012

The real Arsenal are back...oh ye with little faith..Man City can have Nasri...AW.is brilliant

Posted by Hawa on 05/11/2012

Arsenal Koscielny was excellent today, doimanting torres, and dealing well with sturridge when he came inside, the best CB on the pitch today. Mertesacker wasnt as comfortable, looking a bit prone to pacy attacks by chelsea and got caught out a few times in the first half. His positioning was bad too, and i think djourou would have been a better option next to kol. Djourou didnt looked confortable at RB, and especially against mata, chelsea's best player, he looked troubled. He has positional problems, was reluctant to track mata inside, and didnt offer anything going forward, meaning mata didnt have to worry as much about tracking back. Santos looked poor too, and i think a poor buy (along with mertesacker), he was easily outpaced by sturridge, looked poor positionally and didnt really offer a consistent threat going forward (when sturridge wasnt going to track back, this could have a good strategy, his goal sort of proves this). His goal was very lucky, and put a gloss on a poor performance, arsenals worst player today. Song broke up play well, doing well to disrupt lampard and mata, espicially in the second half. He also kept thing simple (very much needed) and got forward on occasion to surprise chelsea. Arteta wasnt so good, he could have helped song out by sitting deeper today, to help restrict mata space in front of the defense. But his biggest problem was his passing. He needed to give arsenal some control over the game, but he was poor today and gave away the ball a lot, mostly by trying too many through balls, which isnt really his job, and was surprising from such a experienced player. Ramsey played well, getting into good positions (exploiting space in front of mikel, rather than going too far forward) and creating a lot of good chances. His possesion passing could have better, again like arteta, they both should have controlled the game more, and really arsenal were lucky to have won, could have gone either way really. The front three was excellent today and won arsenal the game, Van persie's movement was excellent, his finishing even better, and his build up play showed chelsea what they were missing with torres. Walcott and gervinho made excellent runs all game and there pace terrified chelsea. And praise should go to wenger for his subs, jenkinson on for djourou helped arsenal, as djourou had been struggling, and rosicky for walcott was even better, as walcott looked tired, and rosicky helped keep possession well and helped press with fresh legs. Overall, arsenal won with a superior attack, spearheaded by the best striker in the premier league right now, and with a great performance from the back by Kol and from Song in midfield. arteta and ramsey could have controlled the game more (arsenal never had control really, and were lucky) and mert and santos had bad games (showed by 3 goals conceded).

Posted by Richard on 05/13/2012

You mentioned that Chelsea is in titasrnion in term of play that is true, but your forget another reason why Chelsea played a high line: Gervinho. Before his arrival teams knew that playing deep was enough to nullify Arsenal offensive threat. However Gervinho is very good in 1v1 against the full back where he can go to the byline and cut back or come inside and shoot. Something that mean that defending deep may invite more pressure.I suspect that AVB decided that Gervinho's threat was greater than Walcott's. He tried to nullify that threat by playing higher and trying to force him and Walcott on the back foot with Sturridge and Mata playing their area.However I do not think that he has the personnel to play that high pressing game. Mikel is nowhere near the quality of Makelele to play that type of defensive midfield player. Without Essien high energy hassling of opponents Chelsea midfield failed to put Arsenal midfield under any kind of pressure. I do not remember any kind of tackles made in that part of the field. Ramires and Lampard love both ghosting into the penalty box and are good at shielding/intercepting, but they lack the terrier like type of play when defending.Under Mourinho Arsenal midfield used to be overcrowded and out-muscled. With a midfield three of Ramsey, Song, Arteta versus Lampard, mikel and Ramires Chelsea could not out-muscle Arsenal any more and because of the tactic they did not overcrowd the Arsenal midfield either.The high line without any bite in midfield handed the advantage to Arsenal. They kept playing behind the defence and should have scored more goals from their opportunity.Arsenal played diagonal balls behind the defence in space knowing that Walcott and Gervinho would beat Chelsea full back. By playing a higher line, he exposed his entire team to pace.IMHO another thing that has been missing in your assessment is that the misses by both Arsenal and Chelsea had a direct bearing on the goals scored.In the first half Arsenal saw that Santos was in difficulty and the wide midfield were not quick enough in coming to help. Koscielny, Mertesacker and Djourou slided toward the left. Lampard ghosted at the near post and left Per Mertesacker in no-man's land. The first two misses by Arsenal at the beginning of the first half came from Walcott skinning Cole (who IMHO has not been very good this season). Arsenal first two misses at the beginning of the second half also came from Ashley Cole leaving space behind him.Chelsea overcompensated on their left. Santos's goal came from that overcompensation. The entire Chelsea team is on the left quadrant. As Sturridge forgot to track back, Santos was free. However had the Song's pass been intercepted then Arsenal was exposed on their left side.

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About
David Young Sam Limbert: My retirement as a football player came at the age of 14 due to being rubbish, it's fair to say I was more Kaba Diawara than Thierry Henry, so I turned my focus to writing about the game. I'm a lifelong Arsenal fan and have been lucky enough to watch the team across England and Europe. My favourite Gunner of all time is Dennis Bergkamp, and the 2004 Invincibles is the greatest side I've ever seen in English football. I try to be positive about the Arsenal as it's the hope that keeps us going! Follow me on twitter @SamsMatchReport.

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