Arsenal 0 – 2 Schalke: More of the same

This would have been a difficult game even if we were in good form
As it was, off the back of that dire display against Norwich, I fancied Schalke from the off. The German side have some very good players, and came in to the game off the back of a morale-boosting victory over Dortmund: a side good enough to beat Real Madrid last night.

I make that 180 mins without creating a decent chance
Last night, our first shot on target came in the 93rd minute courtesy of 17-year old substitute Serge Gnabry. By my count, that makes for one shot on target mustered in each of the last two games, neither of which you would even stretch to calling a ‘half-chance’. The defensive frailties are nothing new, but this lack of attacking threat is unfamiliar and alarming. The last time I can remember an Arsenal side looking this impotent was just before the January transfer window in which Arsene pulled his finger out to sign Andrey Arshavin.

Andre Santos had a stinker.
If you head down to Hackney Marshes on a Sunday morning, you will occasionally catch sight of me taking to the field as a leaded-footed, positionally naive left-back. Alternatively, you could just watch reruns of Andre Santos’ performance last night, as he huffed, puffed, and struggled his way though a truly torrid 90 minutes. I was alarmed to see that he repeated his trick of standing several yards behind the defensive line, allowing Huntelaar to be played onside just as Grant Holt was on Saturday. In the first half, Per Mertesacker kept us in it, but eventually the weaknesses of those around him were exposed.

I don’t see the sense in dropping Giroud.
I know he hasn’t set the world alight, but I really don’t think there’s any point in persisting with Gervinho as a lone striker. Last nights horror show showed that ‘Goalvinho’ is not a viable long-term option. Why not play Giroud and at least allow himself a chance bed in? Rotating him in and out of the side simply harms his confidence, and right now we haven’t got a better option than the Frenchman.

Gervinho is not consistent enough to play for Arsenal
Every so often he will do something fantastic. More often than not, he will run in to blind alleys, away from his team-mates, and give the ball away. Gervinho is a maverick. He is not capable of cohesive team play. His head goes down, and one has the impression that he himself barely knows what he is going to do with the play. Players like him have their place in the game, but it is generally in mid-table. Sides who see little of the game, and require a game-breaker to do the unexpected. Arsenal are an intelligent, possession side. That is not Gervinho’s game.

Arsenal desperately need to sign a striker.
See previous two points. I’m not sure this requires much expansion. In a world in which Demba Ba is available for just £7m, there is no excuse for Arsene not bringing in a reliable front man in January.

The AGM will be a feisty affair.
Already last night there were chants of “6%; you’re having a laugh” and “Ivan Gazidis: What do you do?” (albeit with inferior punctuation). One can understand why, especially when you face the unavoidable question: Did we really sell Robin van Persie to play Gervinho up front? I don’t think it’s all bad. There were signs just a few weeks ago that this squad has plenty of ability. Arsenal don’t have the familiar excuse of inexperience to trot out; this is a mature side that should know better. Get back to where we were on Saturday and the picture won’t look quite so ugly.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.