1. Alexis Sanchez is not a team player
There is no doubt that Alexis Sanchez is a special player. He’s scored 22 goals for Arsenal already this season and scored the goals which put us through yesterday – but for all his talents he’s not a team player.
Arsenal are all about incisive passing and movement but Sanchez is a player where this breaks down. Far too many times yesterday he lost the ball (he wasn’t the only one) and when a simple pass wide was the better option he always opted to play it short so he could get the return ball. He dribbles far too much, losing the ball, and at times wants to do everything himself. If he could just not “hog” the ball as much he’d be the perfect player – because his work rate, desire and determination are exemplary.
2. Arsenal are always far too complacent against the “smaller” teams
In last seasons FA Cup semi-final we scraped passed Wigan on penalties, and even against Hull City Tigers in the final we struggled, conceding two goals before staging a brave fight back. But why do we always struggle against “lower” sides?
Reading were excellent yesterday, and gave absolutely everything. And that’s the problem – Reading clearly wanted it more. Talent-wise, Arsenal hold all the aces but Reading were the team who would, as Arsene put it, “die on the pitch”. So it begs the question, where was Arsenal’s passion?
Why didn’t Arsenal “give everything on the pitch” to try and win? We were lethargic, sloppy and where as bad as Reading were good. If it wasn’t for the mistake by Adam Federici for the winner, who knows what would have happened? When it comes down to the lottery of penalties Reading had a real chance of knocking us out – and we wouldn’t have anyone else to blame except ourselves.
It’s a dangerous game and don’t forget we did the same against Monaco in the Champions League in the first leg – we thought we could just turn up and win.
3. Arsene Wenger will never be able to make a good substitution
Aaron Ramsey badly needed replacing yesterday and while the Giroud substitution was obvious, Arsene is afraid to make a bold move and Walcott should have been on before the end of the 90 minutes. Ramsey was struggling on the right hand side and ended up drifting inside, meaning Arsenal were far too narrow. Özil, Cazorla, Coquelin and Sanchez were all in the middle so Ramsey was pretty much redundant.
There are too many games when we’re losing and need a change from the bench but most of the time, it never comes and Arsene just seems to “hope for the best”.
4. Mesut Özil is showing how important he is to Arsenal
A lacklustre Arsenal were struggling yesterday but Mesut Özil was our best player by a country mile. Only he, Koscielny and Coquelin (and then Giroud when he came on) put in good performances and if it wasn’t for his beautifully clipped pass to Sanchez for the opening goal God knows where we would be today – quite possibly devastated we missed out on the FA Cup final.
As well as the assist, Özil came agonisingly close with a direct freekick and took the corner which Per Mertesacker really should have scored from. His movement was excellent and his passing was precise – when most of our players kept losing the ball.
5. Aaron Ramsey takes far too many touches on the ball
When a team like Reading are setup to play on the break, the one thing you don’t want to do is give them time to get men behind the ball and re-group. But every time Aaron Ramsey got the ball he slowed the game down and by the time he released the pass the chance to attack had gone. Most Arsenal players take 2/3 touches on the ball but Aaron Ramsey takes about 7! For a side like Arsenal who pride themselves on quick movement and passing, Ramsey’s persistence on taking far too many touches is infuriating.