Losing My Rag

We won.

We scored 7 goals.

Our striker scored a hat-trick.

And I’m furious.

OK, maybe not furious – not now that the game is over, I’ve had time to enjoy the actual scoreline and the fact that some of that match was quite fun to watch. But for a moment this evening, I lost it. My rag, that is.

It wasn’t the moment that our defending was so utterly pathetic that we allowed an opposition player to score from inside the 6 yard box when the nearest defender was a good 10 yards away. It wasn’t even the moment when we did almost exactly the same, minutes later. It was the moment that we scored our 4th goal.

Yes, when Walcott scored his 2nd goal, whilst everyone around me was jumping for joy at another twist in a thrilling game, I found myself screaming abuse at my team. Expletives poured forth, one after the other, until my throat was hoarse. I hate them. I hate them all. Well, most of them. How can they be so crap and yet so utterly brilliant at the same time? The current Arsenal side are the most infuriating football team I have ever seen. They have immense talent and yet it appears and disappears as swiftly as a rabbit in a hat.

No-one sums up this frustration more succinctly than Theo Walcott. Tonight, the headlines are all about him and whether he should sign his contract and play up front forever and ever. And yet this evening he was, for the most part, rubbish. It seems like a stupid thing to say, especially given the media’s enthusiasm for his performance and the chants of “sign him up” from the crowd at the end. It seems insane to even suggest it given that he scored 3 goals and created another but today was Theo all over. And it’s the reason that I won’t be too bothered if he leaves.

In the years he’s been with us, he’s done some great things – but he’s also done some not-great things. Today he did both. Most days, he does both. Theo Walcott wants to be paid superstar wages but he is not a superstar player. He scored 3 today – Van Persie would have scored 5. He has his good days but they are far too rare and even then they are liberally sprinkled with glimpses of crap. If he wants to be paid the big bucks, he is welcome to them. Just as long as he proves that he can perform consistently well for a month at least.

This post is going to be a good, old-fashioned rant because there is so much to rant about at the moment. Today was fun, but on another day it could be very different. If it had finished 3-7, it wouldn’t have been that much more ridiculous. Our defending is a joke.

Bacary Sagna has given up. You can see it in his body language and in his attitude on the pitch. He was completely beaten for pace and determination for their 2nd goal but the piece of play that summed him up today was when Oxlade-Chamberlain played him a pass in behind which he’d already decided not to make a run for. It was an unfortunate mis-communication and Oxlade-Chamberlain may well have been wrong to play it. But Sagna’s response to the incident spoke volumes. Instead of apologising for not making the run and trying to win the ball back, he shouted at the young midfielder and pointed at him, instructing him to go and tackle the player that was now in possession. This “point at the real culprit” response to errors has crept into Sagna’s game in the last year or so and frankly, it stinks. Better to play someone that wants to play for the team than a player with an attitude like that.

Kieran Gibbs is the last in a long line of Arsenal left backs that have been slowly reversing the old trend of defenders that can do only one thing – defend. Nigel Winterburn scored a couple of thunderbolts for us but he was a defender through and through. Ashley Cole introduced the idea of an attacking full back to the club but he was still a better defender than attacker. Clichy swung the needle over towards attack-not-defence and now Gibbs has completed the job. He could have scored twice today and was a terrifying sight for the Newcastle defence when marauding past them. But his defensive positioning and awareness is worse than mine. At the very least, Kieran, stand near the guy that is furthest to your left. Please.

With Vermaelen having a very iffy season indeed, our defence is able to concede at any moment of any game. With the score at 6-3 and 30 seconds on the clock, I refused to predict the final score. Hell, from that position, it could have finished 6-6, the way we defended today. Our frailty and nervousness at the back was neatly highlighted when, after a failed Newcastle attack, almost the entire team stayed camped on the edge of their own penalty area rather than move up. It took the baying screams of the entire crowd to make them realise that they were sitting too deep, such is their lack of confidence in their own ability.

So let’s not get too carried away because we scored 7.

There were highlights today though. Cazorla worked his socks off on a difficult day for him and Giroud’s near hat-trick in 15 minutes was brilliant. At times, Wilshere was mercurial in the midfield. But for me, the man of the match was Lukas Podolski – he gave everything today and fully deserved his goal. His tackling back, physical strength and determination is exactly what we need at the moment and unfortunately shows us where Walcott is really lacking.

Overall, it’s good and bad but let’s face it, it’s been like this for years now. Even when we’re good, we’re rubbish. Even when we’re crap, we’re great. Take me back to the George Graham days please and give me a 1-0 win every week. I prefer that.