By Walter Broeckx
Form is temporary, class is permanent. I think we all have seen these words being used about football teams. And it seems that these words are truer than ever.
It is clear to see that for the moment the form isn’t there with far too many players. There is with many players a lack of confidence for the moment. Each ball that goes to them gets lost or they just can’t make a good pass to a teammate. When trying to dribble past a man they lose out.
If this happens to one man in the team it probably isn’t a real problem. But for the moment this is happening to more than one player and then you have a problem.
I noticed during the Manchester United match that the longer the match went on the more players tried to hide themselves from getting the ball. As if they knew that if they would get the ball they would lose it. The result then is that the defenders have no passing option and usually end up with just hoofing the ball up field and hope for the best. And then it usually goes completely wrong.
Usually in such situations you also run out of luck. Bouncing balls in our penalty area fall the wrong way and bouncing balls in the oppositions penalty area fall kindly for defenders. I think both are linked of course. Because if you are in form you will be quicker on the ball and more alert than when you are completely out of form. Compare to the third United goal where a shot that Cech was already collecting in his arms in his head took a bad deflection of Koscielny and ended up in the middle of the goal while Cech was flying to the left side of his goal.
This is how things go when you are out of form. Not that I blame Cech or Kos for this 3rd goal but this is just how things go for the moment. The first goal also was more of our own making with Gabriel completely missing his clearance. On any other day the ball could have ended up for an Arsenal player but not this time.
Even the referee decisions are not going our way. It seems that stopping Arsenal attacks with arms are allowed these days. Kante from Leicester got away with one, Bruce from Hull and now Rashford for United. The images I have seen show that he stopped the ball with his arm/hand and that he made a movement towards the ball. Stopping a ball on the goal line with your arm is a penalty offence and one that should be punished with a red card. Now whether the ref saw it, or couldn’t see it is something we will leave for the review but it is the third consecutive match in English competitions that we didn’t get the penalty we should have had and in the end it gets a bit strange of course.
Would the penalty and sending if it had been given changed the match? I’m rather sure it would have. But once again we didn’t get the luck with the referee decision on this occasion. Not that he did too bad for the rest at first sight but well… getting the key decisions wrong time and time again and always against Arsenal is something we already accept as normal these days. We don’t even feel the need to highlight it any more and those who do get abuse. As if some accept that there seem to be different rules for both teams.
The fact is that when you are out of form you sometimes need that little bit of luck (a good referee decision is not being lucky but getting what you should get) to turn things around. But we don’t get that bit of luck for the moment.
When we were picking up points before the injuries of Alexis, Coquelin and Cazorla without too many problems things looked good. The injuries hampered us a bit but the backup players did a rather good job for a few weeks and we managed to keep in touch with the other teams at the top.
So we all expected that when the injured would return we would start firing on all cylinders. Alas we are not playing football manager. No we are dealing with human beings made of flesh and blood. And it looks that despite Alexis and Coquelin being physically fit they mentally are not back to their former level.
Before the match our TV station showed a little part of an interview in which Alexis said that because of him trying too hard too soon he got a few relapses and after that the fear of another injury got stuck in the back of his head a bit. This might explain the way he is struggling with himself during the last matches. Is he feeling something in his leg or is he thinking he is feeling something and as a result is not the player he was before?
The most frustrating part is that we know this team and these players can do better. You don’t be the best team in 2015 if you are not good enough. This team is exactly the same team that won most points in 2015. And now they seem to struggle a bit. A bad patch of form on a moment we could do without it.
But as frustrating as it might be for the moment, the thing is that this team is good enough and has the capacity to become better again. But form is not something you can buy at the shelves in the supermarket. It is something that comes and go like the seasons. And with March 1st being the start of the spring for meteorologists we just have to hope that our players will regain form with the new season. Because after each winter we know a new spring will come. So also will after each time players lose form, they will get it back. Let’s hope they find it back real soon.
You might also enjoy: Just how does Mr Wenger’2 20 years compare with the 20 years before him?
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The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon. Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.
From the History Society
- 29 February 1904: Arsenal 4 Burnley 0. Tommy Shanks scored a hat trick. It was the second match of a five game winning run in the league. The result left Arsenal in second position, five points behind Preston but with a better goal average and two games in hand.
- 29 February 1924: James Ramsay joined Arsenal from Kilmarnock with whom he had won the Scottish Cup. His fee was certainly over £1000 – another example of how Knighton’s memoirs misled the public as to the restrictions placed on him by Henry Norris. Ramsa played 75 times and scored 11 goals.