Considering Arsenal’s recent form, a draw in an action packed midweek fixture at Goodison Park isn’t a bad result, especially if it involved Theo Walcott getting a reason to smile about his life as a Gunner and maybe, maybe, convince him to put pen to paper and at least one problem for the North London team.
This was a game, believe it or not, Arsene Wenger was fearing. The early goal took the edge off, and if it wasn’t for some bad defending (again) and disappointing goalkeeping (again) from Wojciech Szczesny on Marouane Fellaini’s less than extraordinary shot, he might have had his three points in a very tough ground, where Everton have still not lost this season.
Now, Arsenal are with only one win from their last five Premier League matches. At least they showed that a physical, “English” encounter, doesn’t prove too hard for Wenger’s player that are often blamed from being too soft and too gentle.
Once again, like it has been throughout this season, a lack of a true striker, at least in the way that the players was playing, really hurt Arsenal during the last 20 minutes, when they were finally able to gain control of the match. Everton dominated the pace and the chances for an hour or so, which demanded defending from each and every one of the Arsenal players. That was why Wenger feared throwing in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain late in the game, with the youngster being nothing but disappointing this year.
Olivier Giroud isn’t the answer to striking woes, and Theo Walcott can’t be as long as he plays on the wing, not to mention busy with defensive assignments for an entire match. Santi Cazorla is fantastic with the ball, and there’s a feeling that there’s more to see from Jack Wilshere once he is comfortable once again with life on the pitch; Still, there was just no target waiting in the box, and Gervinho coming on for 10 minutes didn’t change that.
But being mentally tough and relatively successful is also something to hold on to. Arsenal have dropped to 7th in the Premier League, now five points behind a Champions League position, but have a relatively comfortable slate of matches, home & away, heading into the new years, before they host Manchester City on January 13.
It’s funny and weird sometimes how a team’s confidence gets brutally shaken in such a short space of time. Olivier Giroud is now a constant fixture in the Arsenal starting lineup, but he doesn’t seem to add on a consistent basis what you expect from a prolific striker. Giroud can do well if Arsenal cross and cross and cross, but this isn’t this kind of team, especially with Walcott on one wing and no one else on the other. Aaron Ramsey is now suitable substitute for Lukas Podolski on the left, despite being used on the wings primarily this season.
Somehow, Wenger’s options on the bench, because of injuries and because he’s losing faith in some players, don’t look as good as they should. It feels like a tweak here or there will be the right change towards a brighter future and season, although not one that involves a title. But he needs someone to start picking up goals, or at least be pretending he’s trying to be a target for scoring. Olivier Giroud isn’t the answer.