We review the good, bad and the ugly (perhaps very ugly) from Arsenal's FA Cup exit to Blackburn.
Welp. I think that's a good, family-friendly word to describe yesterday. Despite that, your writing staff worked tirelessly to find some good, bad and ugly things from yesterday.
Most of Arsenal's build up play was fairly decent, led by Tomas Rosicky. Rosicky was at the heart of most everything that Arsenal did well; it was his brilliant through ball that set up the chance for Gervinho, and he also hit the bar with a cracking shot. Rosicky was the one player who always seemed to make things happen; he played several good one-twos with Olivier Giroud, and he started to look like the player that was part of Arsenal's surging run to claim 3rd place last season. If Rosicky can continue to play like that, it'll be harder for Arsene Wenger to leave him out of the side.
With that being said about Rosicky, it was odd to see him replaced by Jack Wilshere after 71 minutes. Arsenal were starting to up the pressure on Blackburn, with Rosicky the impetus behind every attacking move. With Blackburn sitting very deep, and offering almost nothing going forward, it seemed to make more sense to take off Abou Diaby or Mikel Arteta, and have Wilshere create with Rosicky, and Santi Cazorla, who came on for Gervinho. There's been a lot of unfair criticism hurled at Wenger after yesterday, but something that does seem fair is to critcise is his removal of Rosicky. This is the type of game that Arsenal play a lot of, and they usually make the breakthrough when more creativity is added to the side. When Arsenal were struggling against Huddersfield Town in the Cup two years ago, Cesc Fabregas was brought on, with Tomas Rosicky and Andrei Arshavin also on the pitch.
Of course, the argument about creativity could've been null and void if Gervinho had finished the simple chance presented to him by his, admittedly, good run and Rosicky's excellent pass. Gervinho, though, is Gervinho, and he well and truly Gervinho'd that chance. He wasn't the only one at fault--Theo Walcott should've scored with a header, and Mikel Arteta probably should've leveled the score in the last minute, but his was the easiest chance. Gervinho has now played 58 games for Arsenal, and has a measly return of 9 goals and 9 assists. For comparison, it took Theo Walcott 63 games to reach 9 goals (he had already reached the 9 assist plateau). The difference, though, is that Theo Walcott was 19, and had played a lot fewer minutes than Gervinho, who is in the prime years of his career. Part of the reason why Arsenal seemingly struggle to compete on four fronts is that the depth of the squad isn't that good; Gervinho's equivalent in the Invincible team was probably Sylvain Wiltord or Jose Antonio Reyes, and while Arsenal have been hampered by financial difficulties, Gervinho's equivalent in the last Arsenal team to really compete for the league title, the 2007/08 side, was Eduardo, who was a far better player than Gervinho.
Of course, finishing wasn't the only problem; Arsenal gave up a very soft goal, one that came down the right side. Francis Coquelin may have shown "urgency" by diving into tackles, but his over-aggressive play opened up the right hand side on more than one occasion. With Carl Jenkinson suspended and Bacary Sagna possibly needed at centre back on Tuesday, Coquelin could've shown to be an adept replacement at right back. He didn't, and looked far worse than Aaron Ramsey did at right back when the Welshman played there last weekend.
The reaction to Arsenal losing was predictable, but still depressing. No one can deny that there is something wrong with Arsenal as a football club, and there, perhaps, need to be change, either with the manager, or with the makeup of the board, or both or something else. And, after going out to Bradford in the League Cup one would've hoped that Arsenal would've navigated Blackburn, and there is, naturally, disappointment to come from that. The Blackburn game, though, won't make or break Arsenal's season. Yes, the trophy drought is annoying, and it would be nice to see Arsenal win the trophy, but to almost blindly react with #WENGEROUT seems almost thoughtless; there is a time, and a place to have that discussion, but instead of becoming an angry and polarising discussion it should be done when everyone is a little more calmer, and, preferably, at the end of the season. Such a discussion needs to take into view everything about the football club, which includes scouting, coaching, transfers and many other things. It should not take place after a defeat where Arsenal were perhaps unlucky to lose (not that they deserved to win--a draw seemed a fair enough result). No one denies that there aren't many worrying concerns with Arsenal, but those concerns should exist whether Arsenal had beaten Blackburn or lost to them.