yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup - Clive Rose
Another poor performance by Arsenal led to defeat at the hands of the German visitors.
0-1 Huntelaar 76'
0-2 Afellay 86'
Arsenal faced better competition than they did on the weekend to be sure, and had the comforts of home to assist, but the result was similar, as a poor performance saw the Gunners fall to Schalke 04 by a scoreline of 2-0.
The match was largely even for the most part, with both sides creating chances and failing to capitalize on said chances, and both looking a bit shaky in defense. Both teams even had a player booked for diving in the box - Ibrahim Afellay in the 14th minute, and Gervinho in the 72nd. The Germans appeared better, though, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. The Arsenal defense failed to fully clear a ball near the box, and the backline fell apart as the ball was played into Huntelaar. He had badly flubbed a chance just before halftime but the striker didn't fail twice, and he finished coolly.
Ten minutes later Schalke was on the attack again, after turning a poor dribble by Serge Gnabry downfield. The ball came to Jefferson Farfan on the right flank and as he had done all evening, he ate Andre Santos alive. He dribbled easily past the Arsenal left-back and curled a cross around the rest of the backline, where Afellay was waiting to tap the ball in.
The performance was not good, but most of the credit should go to Schalke. The Germans played well and were able to stifle any chances Arsenal managed to create, and always looked like scoring. There are real issues in the Arsenal attack, though, and other than "wait for people to not be hurt" or "TRAID," I'm not sure what the answers are. I'm not sure that Gervinho is a striker in the long-term, and I fear that the magic there has already worn off. Ramsey is fine on the wing but in this specific instance, he was not right for the game. With Olivier Giroud starting at striker and Gervinho on the wing this might be a different game.
Positives were hard to come by, but did exist. I was ready to hail Per Mertesacker's performance until his part in Huntelaar's goal, but based on the way the rest of the team played it's not necessarily disqualifying. Francis Coquelin was also good in midfield, though not flawless. Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla were good but not up to their usual standards. Neither should really be pilloried for their performances, though.
I will say that I was surprised that Andre Santos lasted the full 90 minutes. I'm usually a supporter of his, but this was probably his worst game at Arsenal. Farfan had the full run of the right flank (Arsenal's left), and honestly it was a bit surprising that it took 86 minutes for it to bite Arsenal. If Kieran Gibbs had been available I have to imagine that he would have come on as a substitute at some point, but he wasn't and any solution would have been unnecessarily convoluted. Hopefully this won't become A Thing for Santos, because Gibbs isn't exactly the most solidly-built guy in the world.
Arsenal play QPR on Saturday, and they will need to win that game to stop the bleeding after two consecutive losses and two consecutive poor performances. And also probably to keep me from punching a stranger.