View From The Bank: WBA 2 Arsenal 2
A come back to salvage a point from two goals down should rarely be dismissed however, there can be no getting away from the key issue. A 2-2 draw away to West Brom, at this crucial stage of the season, just isn’t good enough.
Arsenal’s revival was timely and provides an indication that there is still a modicum of fight left in a squad of whom imminent implosion had been predicted. The late brace does not mask the fact that embarrassing errors continue to plague this side.
Usual criticisms have risen to the fore; the main charge being that Arsenal should have spent on a keeper and a centre half. Whilst Almunia gave a solid piece of evidence in favour of that argument yesterday, I still think it would be a slightly simplistic judgement to make.
It has long been apparent that Manuel Almunia is no longer good enough, or suitably equipped mentally, to play for Arsenal. It’s no secret that his bags were packed in January but untimely injuries to Fabianski and Mannone meant the Spanish stopper was retained as a back up.
Wenger should perhaps have looked to cover the position when he had the chance but it’s worth remembering that, up until the window, Fabianski and Szczesny had been impressive. There was no reason to spend heavily on a first choice and, the general paucity of viable options in the market restricted the manager even further.
A similar accusation is made with regards to the defence, usually aimed at Sebastien Squillaci. Admittedly, he wasn’t dominant enough to make Almunia’s rush of blood inconsequential but he did have the situation under relative control and went on to make a couple of vital interventions in the game. Personally, I don’t think Squillaci is a bad defender, especially when you remember he is our fourth choice in that role.
The French international is vastly experienced. He has won Ligue 1 three times and won the Copa Del Rey in Spain. It’s hard to know what more pedigree you can ask of a fourth choice defender. Whilst we’d all love to see three World class keepers and four or five World class centre halves, it’s just not feasible. It costs too much in fees and wages; it’s hard to keep them all happy and, probably most importantly, there aren’t very many top class options just sitting around waiting for the promise of a place on our bench.
Come what may this season, our squad will definitely need a few tweaks in the summer. We don’t just need three or four new faces; we need to address or attitude. There is a strong group ethic at Arsenal which has seen us tough out a few results this season and, on occasions, threaten a new mental fortitude. The problem isn’t just desire or will to win, it’s the fact that when we look sluggish as a team we lack the leaders to focus minds. The group outlook is that deeply embedded.
It’s only a hunch but I get the feeling that a bollocking in the Arsenal changing room would result in more sunken shoulders than puffed chests. Perhaps the time has come for the coaching staff and players to stop forgiving each other so easily. If someone isn’t doing his job he should be told, by the boss or a team mate. A few individuals need to take responsibility because, at the moment, if the team is below par, it seems to drag everyone down. Apart from Cesc we lack the players that are prepared to step out of the comfort of the group.
The fact remains that we were strong enough to get a point yesterday, even after some humiliating defending, and we remain in with a chance of winning the title. It has to be positive that despite the horrors that continue to befall us, there is still some desire to recover. What remains is to find the form we showed earlier in the season and see where we end up in May.