I’m looking at the stats on the BBC. The stats say we had 55% of the ball.The stats say we had more shots, and what’s more we had more shots on target. Well if that isn’t just proof that there are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics, I don’t know what is.
What I watched for ninety minutes was a well organised side consisting of players with limited ability outworking an Arsenal team now looking depressingly similar to the one that fell apart at the same time last year. Sunderland always looked threatening on the break and were good value for their two goal win.
Yes, there were extenuating circumstances in as much as the defence that was mysteriously missing our only fit left-back had to be reorganised twice after the loss of the unlucky Francis Coquelin and his hapless replacement, Sebastien Squillaci. We had two decent penalty shouts ignored, but survived two as well. Webb was Webb, unfortunately, but was not the cause of our exit.
The defeat was entirely of our own making. Prior to the turn of the year I think it is fair to say many were pleased that what we lacked in quality we made up for with sheer hard work and application. I was persuaded that would see us in good shape when the pointed end of the season arrived. However it seems to me that in the course of the last four days the engine room, the midfield trio, has just fallen apart. Devoid of form and confidence it is painful to watch them passing nervously, slowly, creating nothing, and protecting nobody.
That is creating pressure on a defence ripped apart over the course of the last week. It is not hindsight that has us querying why we did not strengthen the defence in January. If Sunderland are causing us problems on the break, then we all have to put our hands together in the coming week and pray that Laurent Koscielny makes a quick recovery, and Kieran Gibbs is available to start what has become a massive North London derby.
Such is the importance of that game for our season, and so devoid of form and confidence are this set of players, I hope those who are inclined to negativity will understand the importance of getting one hundred percent behind this side as it searches for what is so evidently missing. Obviously extremes of opinion will be aired this week, human nature being what it is. I’m not saying those who are critical don’t have some pretty valid points right now. I have my own fears about some of the things that seem to be going on at the club in recent times. I too will be expecting some significant changes in the summer, and just what the nature of those changes should be will be determined by how we finish the campaign.
What I am saying for now is that this club needs our support more than ever in the huge Premier League fixtures coming up. Lest we forget we are still fourth at present, but a top four berth would now be a bonus that many see as being beyond us. Turning on players we know have limitations will do nothing to lift them out of their current malaise. Let’s get behind them, support them, make them want to put in that extra effort that is lacking this week.
Let’s encourage them to achieve the best they can this season, then address the concerns about what we are, or are not, getting for our ever more expensive tickets when we won’t be affecting the very team we profess to support. The insufficient investment in the squad is not their fault. Think about that, please.
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