Having been unable to watch the game live, I came home, saw the score, read the live blog, and wasn’t particularly inclined to download and sit through a 0-0 draw, so you’ll have to find in-depth analysis somewhere else this morning, I’m afraid.
On the face of it, a 0-0 draw isn’t that bad, but obviously an away goal would have been nice. It almost came late on when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the inside of the post, but as it stands only the Turkish side can take advantage of the away goals rule now and that is a bit dangerous from our point of view.
From the little bits I did see, the pitch looked awful, and we still looked like a team that’s not at its best from a physical point of view. On the live blog Tom was, while acknowledging of our own lack of performance, particularly critical of the referee, and having Aaron Ramsey sent off late on was perhaps part of that.
His first yellow looked a bit 50-50 to me, but he got done by the opponent who was tugging his shirt too and made it more obvious when Ramsey returned the favour. As for the second, it was as soft as they come, the referee bought the dive and the red card means we’re without the one player right now that has the potential to have a positive impact on the game even when we’re not playing particularly well.
When you add to that the loss of Mikel Arteta, in a protective boot after the game due to an ankle injury, it wasn’t exactly a good night at the office for us. I really can’t comment on individual performances – but the player ratings linked above will provide some kind of guideline if you really need it.
Afterwards, the manager said:
It was a difficult match played at a high pace. Besiktas played with 100 per cent pace and did fought for every single ball. We needed a great level of concentration. We are still a bit short physically with some situations, but overall it was a game played for 90 minutes at great pace.
I suppose what’s most worrying this morning is the number of players we’re losing. Gibbs in the Palace game, Arteta last night, Ramsey with a red card which keeps him out of the return leg. When you consider that we’re already a bit short it’s not ideal preparation for a weekend trip to Goodison Park, a ground that was far from favourable for us last season.
However, the weekend also sees the return of Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski. Hopefully the decision to give them the best part of two weeks training before bringing them back into action pays off, because right now it feels like we need somebody to give us a spark.
We kept a clean sheet last night, which is a positive, but midfield needs something to get it going while it does look as if we’re labouring up top. Some of that will be down to service, and hopefully that will improve when Ozil returns to the side, but the manager has shown a lot of faith in both Giroud and Sanogo by not bringing in another central striker in the transfer window and that faith ought to be repaid with performances.
There were a couple of moments when a more clinical forward would have put us in a better position for the second leg, and I’m not sure you can really play those off those because of a lack of fitness. Other players involved for longer in this summer’s World Cup are back and producing for their clubs, so Giroud really has no excuses.
So, overall it could have been better, could have been worse, but we do need to try and find something to get us going in what’s going to be a vital seven days. A trip to Everton is going to be a real test this weekend, and this day next week we’ve got a game which will decide our European future for the season. The way we’re playing right now you can’t help but be a little bit nervous, but with our Germans back and another week of fitness/match sharpness maybe that will make the difference.
Now we just wait and see what the damage to Mikel Arteta is. If he’s out for a while that means Mathieu Flamini, also our second choice left-back, will be pressed into midfield action, but the Spaniard is a player the manager trusts a great deal and his absence would be a blow.
There’ll be clamour for the manager to get busy in the transfer market again but even if we did go out and buy players this week, they wouldn’t be eligible for the return leg anyway. For Everton, sure – if we bought them in time – but right now it feels like we’re waiting (or being made wait) until after our European fate is known one way or the other.
In other news this morning, The Telegraph are reporting that the club’s Chief Commercial Officer, Tom Fox, is set to be appointed Chief Executive of Aston Villa. It does seem a strange one as Randy Lerner, Villa’s owner, is known to want to sell the club, so what if he goes there, some mad millionaire buys it and wants to appoint his carefree, layabout son to run the place?
Maybe Tom Fox just really wants to experience working with Roy Keane, even for a short while. We’ll see what happens, but he’s had a big impact on our commercial business. When he arrived in 2009 we were somewhat behind the times in comparison to other clubs, particularly Man Utd, but after securing big deals with Emirates and Puma, and getting lots of other commercial partners on board we’re in better shape now.
Still, looks like there’s a job coming up there for someone, get your CVs ready businessmen types.
Right, that’ll do. News and fallout throughout the day on Arseblog News, more here tomorrow.