We did better than we expected, but it’s hard to take too many positives from another defeat – especially when results around us make it look very likely that we’ll find ourselves in the relegation zone tonight (West Ham currently 2-0 up at Stoke).
The first half was a frustrating one. Arsenal looked composed and comfortable but, as ever, they looked like they could be got at. Merino and Lascelles led by example and tried to get us going, but the lack of quality in our front three was glaringly obvious and painful to watch at times.
Aside from winning headers at both ends of the pitch, Joselu was painfully sloppy and Atsu and Murphy’s final ball let them down on countless occasions. Hayden ‘combative’ but that’s the only thing I can say good about him recently. Saying that, he made more fouls than he did clean tackles. Lejeune was caught out on several occasions in the first half. Getting too tight, on the wrong side, missing his tackle or only half clearing the danger. It was a moment of magic from Ozil but the latter contributed towards their opener. A more convincing header doesn’t allow him that half chance.
In the second half we had spells where we had a go in the last 20, with Merino, Perez and the early addition of Matt Ritchie doing their best to push us forward, but it wasn’t enough. We huffed and puffed, however it was only really from long distance efforts and set pieces where we had any half decent efforts on goal. They were rightfully applauded for their efforts at the full time whistle, but relegation fears have only got bigger today’s results.
Merino looked back to his old self and was our real shining light and we looked better at the back (although Arsenal weren’t anywhere near their best), but today showed once again that the signing of a striker and new number 10 are essential next month. Joselu won so many headers, but that’s about it. He looked so limited with the ball at his feet.
To rub salt into the wounds, Leicester (3-0 at Leicester!) and Huddersfield (4-1 at Watford!) both earned huge wins today, whilst West Ham’s current lead over Stoke mean we’ll be in the relegation zone tonight as it stands.
We put in a good shift and gave it a go, but effort alone won’t be enough to keep us up this season.
Ashley’s sale, Staveley’s arrival and some January signings can’t come quick enough, but for now, let’s focus on three points at West Ham next time out.
After today’s improved display, I am more hopeful we can get a decent result their – we’ll need to.