Our performances and results this season has been sensational, but there’s no denying that of late we’ve had a dip in form. We’ve lost to Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea in recent weeks, and although the first could be put down to being “too naive”, and the second down to being in a competition we “don’t care about”, then fact is we made the same old silly mistakes which we used to make in seasons gone by.
A draw against Dortmund would have been an excellent result but we got caught with a sucker punch on the break. Some will say we were unlucky but without Mathieu Flamini we are susceptible to conceding the type of goal where we are caught out at the back, and concede from a break from the opposing team.
It happened when Robert Lewandowski scored, and again without Flamini against Crystal Palace, we found ourselves hugely exposed on the break. This time however, Arteta and Chamakh collided and the break was stopped but this highlighted the huge gap we have without Flamini’s defensive positioning and energy.
Against Chelsea, they were happy to sit back and catch us on the break. You can argue all your like about the negative tactics of other teams, but the fact is it’s a simple tactic that works well against Arsenal – without Mathieu Flamini in the side.
It is no coincidence that the games we lost (Chelsea and Dortmund) where home games – games we are expected to have the majority of the attacking possession. Without Mathieu in the side we are exposed at the back and even against Crystal Palace, even though it was an away game it’s a game where we had most of the ball.
So the huge question is can Arsenal learn their lesson?
We play Liverpool at The Emirates and we don’t have Mathieu Flamini in the side. If Brendan Rodgers was looking for a gameplan it’s pretty obvious what it would be. They have Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in fantastic form and both strikers are very very quick. In Steven Gerrard they have a top top quality player (see what I did there) who can ping 40 yard through passes with extremely accuracy.
So if Arsenal don’t learn their lessons then Liverpool are more than capable of picking us off. If that happens, I can see us losing this game 3-1.
If we had Flamini, I would be much more confident. In fact I wouldn’t be worried at all, because with him we are a different beast. But with the obvious and massive deficiency in our team I am extremely concerned about today’s game.
Because even though it’s only the 10th game of the season, it’s a marker for our whole campaign. Sure, it’s just three points at the end of the day but for the last two seasons our record against the Top 6 has been nothing short of dreadful. It’s terribly poor and winning tomorrow’s game would put some of those demons to bed and give our squad a massive boost of confidence going into the rest of the season. But if we lose (which is a possibility) then all the talk will be about Arsenal having the same old problems with the inability to beat any of the top sides.
The only “top” side we’ve beaten this season is Napoli so why should Liverpool have anything to fear?