This was a very dull football match from start to finish, the type you want to forget about on time. So I’ll just go into the major talking points I observed.
3-4-3 formation too conservative and has little value against small teams
One criticism usually leveled against Wenger is that once he settles for a formula, whether that is tactics or formation, he doesn’t change it, irrespective of opposition, and that appeared to be the main problem with our team’s performance today – The 3-4-3 formation was just too blunt, against a relatively defensive Watford side.
I know this is an easy conclusion to come to with the benefit of hindsight, especially given that the outcome of the match would have been different had Iwobi and Ozil taken the respective chances they created for each other in the 69th and 70th minutes.
However, a team that was already missing its most creative players in Ramzey, Ozil, and Sanchez needed to go with the most attacking formation possible, one that would have accommodated more attacking players. For example, a 4-4-2 that would have featured Giroud alongside Lacazette. Or a 4-3-3 that could have allowed Jack Wilshere to start.
When Lacazette doesn’t score, it’s hardly ever because he wasted chances, it’s usually because he didn’t get good service, and that’s what happened again today.
The 3-4-3 is a formation that is meant to give you that extra defensive cover against very vibrant attacking teams, and not against teams with very little possession never mind attacking initiative.
In the end, our attack was not creative or incisive enough and we still conceded two goals.
Big opportunity missed
The most disappointing thing about this loss is that we wasted the chance to reduce the gap between us and our fellow top-four contenders, and that after taking the lead.
Chelsea had earlier lost to Crystal Palace – a totally unexpected result – and Liverpool and Utd had cancelled each other out too, so an Arsenal win would have put us ahead of Chelsea and into fourth position, reduced the gap to Utd to four points, and also increased our lead over Liverpool to three points. Instead, Arsenal did what Arsenal does best – lose timidly when the stakes are very high.
It’s so sad.
Arsenal will not challenge for title
One major conclusion you can draw from today’s match is that, if at all there was any lingering hope that we could challenge for the title because of our recent winning run, it’s all fizzled out now.
If you can’t win or, at worst, get a draw against Watford, on a day that most of your title rivals have dropped points, then you can’t be trusted enough to garner the points needed to finish top of the league.
Similarly, this is our third loss in four matches away from the Emirates. The fourth match was a draw against Chelsea – further proof that the 3-4-3 against small teams, who defend in numbers, will not get you goals. We couldn’t score against Stoke and today against Watford, we only scored from a corner-kick.
Cech just doesn’t save penalties
If a younger world-class goal-keeper than Cech was available today, I would snap him up immediately if I was Arsene Wenger. But we all know that our manager is not the ruthless type and is very unlikely to make such a decision.
It was put to the boss in his post match press-conference that we have had 11 penalty-kicks awarded against us since the start of last season… sensationally Cech hasn’t saved any one of them.
I doubt it’s a case of Cech being unlucky, as he has never even guessed the direction of the kick right never mind get a finger-tip on them. Apparently, our keeper is simply not talented in that regard.
If yesterday’s PK was saved, I doubt Watford would have got another goal, and if they did, we would at worst have got a point.
If Cech was saving just three of the about nine penalty-kicks awarded against us every season, we would have about six points more come end of season – in fact, we would be in the Champions League right now.
Is Ozil out of form or mentally out of Arsenal
Once a player makes it clear, directly or indirectly, that he no longer wants to be part of a club, everything he does or otherwise will be placed under scrutiny.
This is the situation Ozil finds himself in at the moment. The trust between him and the fans, and possibly his team-mates, is now broken.
Therefore, Ozil’s performance after he was introduced against Watford should not have been one that is remembered for him missing a clear goal-scoring chance that would have put the game beyond Watford’s reach or being culpable in the build-up to the penalty that was conceded by Bellerin.
Ozil had a chance to stop or at least put in a challenge on Richarlison well before he got to Bellerin but, as usual, he shirked his defensive responsibilities.
It’s hard to see a way back from here for Ozil, the only thing we should worry about now is that the relationship between Ozil and the fans doesn’t get toxic.
Ozil has to go!
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
- Do you agree that the 3-4-3 formation is not ideal against defensive/small teams?
- Should Arsenal withdraw its contract offer from Ozil?
- Is it time to start shopping for Cech’s replacement?
Comment below ⇓