The cliche ‘ it’s a game of two halves’ was made for this game, as we followed the description to the letter.
The problem is, it was the same description as our previous match – the midweek loss to Everton by the same score.
The first half of both matches was positive, especially versus City. Our front press divided their backline to great effect, but yet again we failed to maximise our superiority. We should have gone in to the break in both games with a two goal advantage.
Then, the second half showed the other side of Arsenal still exists; the side that is still the undoing of them. We failed to adapt to the changes movement of Sane and De Bruyne, and within two minutes of the restart, they were level.
Our second half showing was so dire we went from being so dominant to not having a shot in anger. Our press was rudderless and Pep’s side were utterly rampant.
On these two showings, we still have some work to do before even thinking we can catch Chelsea.
Here are 5 pointers as to where it fell apart:
Dropping too deep
Our press in the first half didn’t give Kolarov, otamendi and co any time to build, and we harried them into mistakes. The second forty-five was the exact contrast. They passed around us and the urgency from our play had gone. We also only started to close down when they entered our final third. It was to our cost.
Fitness an issue?
The second half was the culprit for this second loss, just as it was against Everton. The abject running, no dynamism, it appeared as if the majority of our players were running on empty. Are they tired? They are going through a fixture list just as congested as the other CL competing teams, why do we look so jaded?
Sanchez can’t do it on his own
Alexis once again showed his superhuman stamina, and he implored his team mates to follow suit time and time again. He was the spark for the goal, and about ninety percent of our goalshave involved the Chilean. It is high time someone else at least lightened the load a little. Theo and Mesut have good figures, but during the whole game, we need more.
We are giving it away
Both losses, the opponent have been on the chopping block, waiting for the blade to come down. We have had them in our grasp and it is only our weakening grip which has allowed them the wriggle room they need. What about when we face a team that is actually in form?
Cech is off the boil
No clean sheet now in eight games for Petr, the longest run he’s suffered in his career. He may not have been at fault for the first, but he was beaten at his near post by Sterling, which he should’ve kept out. He still pulls out saves that keep us in the game, but that consistent barrier which has been the bane of so many teams is flickering. He’ll get it back.
There was more to point out from the game of course; Gabriel is doing a half-decent job but he is no Mustafi, Xhaka and Coquelin are working hard but they must try harder to link play, and Iwobi looked bright but must try to avoid switching off when it’s time to track back.
We need to forget about Chelsea for now. We must forge a gap again between us and tottenham, City and Liverpool. We have to concentrate on closing out games.
We MUST win our next game.
Next up – West Brom at home.