Once again, the defense looked terrible whenever it was pressed. Not for the first time, Arsenal hardly showed up for the first half. Yet there were enough positives to take from a match which could have ended as another disaster, instead finishing with a positive note, thanks to the improving partnership of Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.
While Giroud is no Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, his recent from suggests that Arsene Wenger wasn’t so foolish to have purchased him. He still misses an awful lot and sometimes can’t create a decent shot for himself, but he’s always involved, and always drawing focus to him while allowing others more freedom in the box.
Theo Walcott won’t get to be a lone striker, not most of the time. Arsene Wenger keeps talking about his faith in him, but Wenger is a conservative manager when it comes to his on field decisions when compared with his view on tactics and player development. Still, Walcott is developing great understanding with Giroud despite playing as half a winger. The four goals in four consecutive matches for Walcott, three in a row for Giroud are just more proof that playing them together is the right idea.
But behind them is where the real up and down happens. The first goal of Luis Suarez was a series of comedic/tragic mistakes, but when that happens more than once or twice every time Suarez gets near the box, it shows something else. Lack of confidence, panic, you pick your definition. Bacary Sagna’s slip is quite telling of his form this season after returning from injury. The return of Thomas Vermaelen to the center of defense didn’t cast too much positive on Per Mertesacker, who continues to look awful in almost every match.
Andre Santos came on for Kieran Gibbs in the 37th minute and looked pretty bad himself, as he always does. And there was the midfield, who didn’t start pushing forward and doing anything creative until the second half, when Liverpool were practically begging Arsenal to try and grab the match back from the jaws of defeat. Jack Wilshere, always the hard worker, started actually connecting with his passes and looking more threatening with the ball. Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla got more and more involved, and were a bit more direct in their approach during the final 30 minutes.
Not enough for a win, not enough to climb their way up the table towards the fourth place that still looks a fair bit of distance away. Everton, unlike Arsenal, might not have the same aspirations, but are a much more solid team, with fewer ups & down stretches during matches. Tottenham do have their blunders, but don’t look so out of sorts in matches like Arsenal sometimes do, despite all the praise thrown on their key players lately.
Arsenal probably won’t get to make a move before the transfer window deadline expires; this means that what Wenger has will have to do to avoid this season from becoming a failure, meaning missing the Champions League. The talent is there, at least up front, to accomplish the mission. The problem is finding defensive and midfield stability, looking like a much tougher task.