Defence once again our Achilles heel
Written by Arsenal Kid.
It was always going to be difficult to get a victory against a team that has not lost at home for over two years. Maybe the thrashing we gave them at the Emirates made some fans think it would be another walk in the park but Shakhtar proved that they are a strong European team last night with the victory over the Gunners.
Not to say we were overwhelmed by the Ukrainians. We certainly could have won the game after Wilshere and Walcott combined to give us the head start early in the match. I think this is probably the first time we have lost a match after taking a lead in the first half since losing at Manchester United over a year ago.
Attacking wise, we were alright with Walcott and Nasri looking menacing at times especially in the second half. I was quite impressed with Walcott’s finishing for the goal, certainly very Thierry Henry-like in how he beat the defender and took his shot early. He actually started his run a couple of metres behind the defender but in just over 20 metres, was way ahead of his marker. Great signs for the future from this one, definitely. I can’t say the same for Nicklas Bendtner. We certainly missed Chamakh in the lone striker role yesterday. Bendtner’s finishing may have improved but his off the ball running and first touch remain deplorable. Countless times he got the ball but his first touch took it a few metres away and the ball was robbed from him. If he wants to be the No 1 striker for the team, he has better worked harder.
We certainly could have done better in midfield but Wilshere and Eastmond played well, in my opinion. Wilshere played his part in defense and tried to get the offense moving but often the lack of running ahead spoilt his vision. I thought Eastmond was a bit overawed by the atmosphere but could be forgiven for his lack of experience. His determination impressed me and I think he will be another Alex Song in a couple of years.
As for the defense, well, they let us down again. Not excuses for inexperience here. Eboue must have one of his worst game since being booed off at the Emirates. He was constantly skinned by Willian and his positioning was also poor. Going forward, his crosses were abysmal.
On the other side, Clichy had a poor game and was totally at fault in the run-up to the second goal. It is not the first time we see Clichy losing his focus like that in a match. It just seems to me that when Gibbs is not injured and waiting in the wings to take over, Clichy plays really well. But when there is no recognize left back to deputize for him, his loses focus in a match. It all boils down to competition for places and the left back position is almost unchallenged for Clichy at the moment.
Overall, we would still qualify for the second round, needing only one point from the last two matches. It was also not unexpected for us to go down to Shakhtar but the defensive issues need to be addressed before it hurts us more in the future.
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