Arsenal without Flamini were like a Vegetarian Piranha
After watching Arsenal lose to Dortmund, having been caught by a classic counter attacking counter-punch by the Germans, I took myself to bed, somewhat annoyed at the manner of the defeat. The first half, Arsenal were tepid, Sagna gave away possession more than Faust did to Mephistopheles, (O.K., not technically possession but you get the idea!), the whole back four seemed unorganized, and as such, the attacking fluency which Arsenal have exhibited so far this season was unable to surface. The second half was better. Having seen Giroud score just before half time gave the team belief that, and here I cringe as I type the lyrics, "We're going to score 1 more than you!", was a viable mantra/motto to work with. Dortmund seemed content to take a draw if it was offered, and poach a winner should the chance arise. As it happened, that's exactly how it panned out. Dortmund scored, too close to the end of the match for Arsenal to do anything about it.
So, this morning, it was time to sift through the analysis proffered by the various media outlets, and as I passed by The Guardian, I was entertained to see a new species of Piranha has been discovered, and that it's vegetarian! Emblazoned above the headline was a picture of said fish. It had almost all the characteristics of a normal Piranha, but yet, somehow, it didn't herald the same threat once the news of its diet had been, for want of a better word, digested! If you didn't know it had a penchant for greenery, and a school were headed in your direction, you'd be out of the water quicker than if you spied Roy Scheider muttering "We're going to need a bigger boat", but, safe in the knowledge that you're not on the menu, the only course of action needed is to just let it go about its business, and the chances are you'll not get hurt.
And so it was with Arsenal at the Emirates on Tuesday night. The capacity to bite was there, much like the Piranha, or indeed any house cat or dog, because Giroud always looked a threat, took his goal well, and held up play excellently. But, his goal came from a defensive mix up, and allowed him his chance. Dortmund played with the knowledge that, without Flamini, this was a far more placid animal they were dealing with. Arteta simply does not have the "Dark Arts" or the presence in front of the defence, to instil confidence in his own players, or fear in the opposition. Rosicky as hatchet-man just doesn't add up and yet, his was the only yellow card resulting from a tackle.
Arsenal were not toothless, but their attitude suggested to bite, they really really needed to be provoked. Dortmund sat, waited, and then, when it was too late to react, struck for themselves.
Crystal Palace are Arsenal's next game, and if Flamini is fit, it might be wise for Wenger not to play him, for after that, come Liverpool and Manchester United. Flamini already has 4 yellow cards, and given Palace's league position, Arsene may well think he can manage without him, and his almost obligatory card per game. The problem looming is, a card in the Liverpool game, means missing the trip to Old Trafford. Wenger can ill afford a performance against either, similar to the Dortmund game, in a league where placid and flaccid are similes, and where, as Manchester United found out against West Brom and Southampton, You might think you're the biggest baddest fish in the pond, but you can still fall prey to another who's hungry enough to bite harder and faster than you.
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