After the Manchester United defeat, it’s clear that peoples views differ greatly on the significance of the result. Some people say that it shows Arsenal’s inability to beat big teams, whereas others look to our record of 14 victories in 15 away games and think this is nothing more than a blip.
Personally, I believe the result itself is not as important as a lot of people are making out. It certainly doesn’t end our title challenge and the fact is we are still 5 points better off than Manchester United, and 2 points clear at the top of the league.
For me, the performance can be put down to a few things. We lost Per Mertesacker and Rosicky to illness, and it seemed a few of the lads were a bit sluggish. We don’t know what the illness was, but it certainly effected the team. We’ve also had a pretty tough run in recently with games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Dormund and when Manchester United had a similar test (having to play Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City) they only managed to get one point from those games. We won two of them, and only narrowly lost against Manchester United.
Apart from the tired performance yesterday, something we’ve been missing (and been coping well without I might add) is pace up front. Lukas Podolski is quick off the mark and has been injured for a long time but it is Theo Walcott we have missed the most. He gives us such a valuable outlet with his runs and with him I am sure we would have given Manchester United a much tougher game. Even in the games against Liverpool and Dortmund, there were times when Theo’s presence on the pitch was sorely missed.
We have done extremely well to play well and win games without him but there is no doubt that he gives us that something extra when we run out of ideas. We have Olivier Giroud up top and Theo is the perfect player to play alongside him to feed off his flicks and passes. Yesterday, and in other games this season, Giroud has looked isolated and that has influenced the amount of chances we’ve created. Against United, we had Ramsey, Cazorla and Ozil behind Giroud which should be a line up good enough to scare most defences in the world, but without that burst of pace we can’t vary our game and give the defenders something else to think about. Playing in front of an oppositions back four is exactly what they want, and playing against pace scares the living daylights out of them.
The sooner Theo Walcott comes back from injury, the sooner we can really kick start our season again and push on.