After thinking he sorted out his goalkeeper problem, Arsene Wenger saw Vito Mannone with a terrible save, allowing Grant Holt the chance to get Norwich their first win of the season. On a day in which Santi Cazorla was a fade of his early season self, there was no real hope for Arsenal to come back from an early deficit.
Again, after a solid start, the defense took its share of criticism. Mertesacker said after the match that they must improve in that are. But it’s not only there. The bottom line after a quarter of the season gone and past, Arsenal are 9th in the Premier League with 12 points. Ten behind league leaders Chelsea, seven behind Manchester United and Manchester City.
Suddenly, the squad not being deep enough and lacking the certain kind of quality needed to challenge for a Premier League is a subject once again fair to discuss. When the Arsenal team looks so sluggish, slow and tired for an entire match, despite the necessity of finding a way to climb back from the grave, the finger points towards a manager who didn’t bring good enough players.
Olivier Giroud might have scored in the middle of the week against Spain, but he’s a striker that completely relies on others feeding him the ball. Santi Cazorla simply didn’t arrive to Carrow road, his mind elsewhere and his body functioning at 50% of its regular capacity. No quick passing in the middle; no exchanges with Gervinho and Podolski on the wings, including position switching that allows the two wingers to join Giroud in the middle.
Eventually, when your tactics don’t work or have nothing special in them, it falls to player performance. Arsene Wegner is a lot of things, but he’s not a master tactician, and certainly not a very good in-game manager. There were no changes in the way Arsenal played through the 70 minutes in which they were behind, or maybe the players didn’t respond. Mikel Arteta didn’t step up to the playmaker duty; Aaron Ramsey failed to find space to surge forward or create for others and Andre Santos wasn’t even close to what Kieran Gibbs brings to the table with his strides forward.
The patient isn’t sick, but he’s not that well either. Injuries were shared across the board when it came to the big Premier League sides, but Arsenal were hit the hardest because of the lack of adequate replacements. Wenger’s persistence to stick to a certain gameplan in terms of his vision of winning the Premier League falls short also because it keeps him from having satisfactory replacements to keep a solid rotation going.
He’s left with relying on Santi Cazorla to be the only facilitator in his attack, and when the Spanish midfielder is fatigued or simply having a bad day, Arsenal don’t have anyone to pick them up from the ropes. After an optimistic start, it once again looks like fourth or third position is the ceiling for this team, which goes hand in hand with their ability to spend, not their ambition.