SussexBaggie Speaks…Arsenal and moving forward
By Site Editor
Updated Wednesday, 9th November 2011
Tom Harper discusses Albion's latest defeat and important games on the horizon
Last weekend saw us suffer another disappointing defeat, this time being beaten 3-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
Our victory in north London last season was probably the greatest day I have experienced as an Albion fan, so going there on Saturday and seeing us get comfortably beaten without really putting up too much of a fight was very hard to take.
Roy Hodgson selected a very attacking line-up, with a central midfield pairing of Graham Dorrans and James Morrison, and Zoltan Gera playing just behind the lone striker who was Simon Cox. This meant that Youssouf Mulumbu was dropped to the bench, although I seem to be one of the few Albion fans who can see why Hodgson selected the players he did. However, despite selecting an attacking line-up, it became clear during the first five minutes that our only objective was to come away with a 0-0 draw.
As soon as Arsenal took the lead, it was game over and it became a case of trying to limit the number of goals Arsenal scored.
We kept it down to three, with the first two of these being caused by hesitant defending. However, it took us until the final few minutes to have our first effort on target, which was a very tame Steven Reid header from a corner.
In short, Saturday was simply one of those days when you leave the ground wondering how certain players can put in so little effort when supporters had paid a great deal of money to watch them play.
The fact that I spent the train journey home and the evening with a few Arsenal fans at Lewes Bonfire Night made the day even more disappointing, although it had got to the stage where I just had to laugh along with them at how poorly we had played.
Having a two-week break for international fixtures is never ideal after such a dire performance, especially seeing as we face a crucial period of our season over the next few weeks.
However, it gives the likes of Paul Scharner, Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long, all of whom would be away on international duty, a chance to recover from the injuries which ruled them out of the trip to Arsenal.
As I have already mentioned, the next few weeks could be crucial when it comes to determining where we are looking to finish at the end of the season. Our next few fixtures are as follows:
Bolton Wanderers (H)
Wigan Athletic (H)
Blackburn Rovers (A)
With the exception of Spurs, each of the teams we are playing over the next few weeks probably has very similar aspirations to ourselves – staying in the Premier League, and possibly pushing on towards mid-table if our Premier League status is secured with a few games to spare.
Unlike most international breaks, this one won’t be a total break from Albion-related football for me. Tomorrow night (Thursday) I will be making the short journey to The Amex to watch George Thorne and Saido Berahino in action for the England U19s against Denmark.
Thorne made his first Premier League appearance of the season when he came off the bench against Arsenal on Saturday, and didn’t look out of place during his ten minutes on the pitch. Berahino spent the early part of the season scoring for fun for our Reserves, and has now scored three goals in four games whilst on loan at League Two side Northampton Town.
Both players are very highly-rated at Albion, so it will be interesting to see how they get on at international level in front of a sell-out crowd at The Amex.
Hopefully the rest of our players away on international duty can also gain some valuable experience whilst away with their respective national sides and come back confident as we enter what could be a crucial spell in our season.
How do you think Albion will get on in their important run of fixtures? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.