EPL 2005: Day 28 (Southampton 1 – Arsenal 1)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
February 26th, 2005 • 6:54 am

This is becoming quite painful to watch. At least van Persie has the excuse of his youth and inexperience. But Lehmann? What on earth was he thinking when he came out for that corner? Peter Crouch’s height is pretty much the only threat that he presents as a striker… He doesn’t even have to jump to head the ball. And what does Lehmann do? As soon as the corner is hit, he comes out flapping with his hands in Crouch’s general direction! And on the goal line we have Clichy and Cole, two of the shortest players in the squad. Makes total sense, doesn’t it?

This is positively ridiculous. How can anyone seriously consider this keeper as a serious contender for a national team goal-keeping position? Or even as the preferred choice for the position in a top English Premier League team like Arsenal?

What exactly is it going to take to make Arsène Wenger see the light and admit to himself and to everyone else that Lehmann is useless? I don’t care one bit about the rivalry with Kahn. All I know is that, if Arsenal went through the entire 2003-2004 season unbeaten, it was not thanks to Lehmann — quite the contrary. He already had a number of blunders last year, especially in the Champions’ League. He was just lucky that he didn’t have to perform in the Premier League.

This year, the Gunners’ defense is falling apart, and Lehmann is revealed as the lousy keeper that he really is. Wenger has to get rid of him. That’s all there is to it.

Sure, he was not the only one to blame today. The team’s performance was poor yet again. Thierry Henry missed a number of fairly comfortable chances. Vieira failed to inspire his team mates yet again after they conceded the equalizer. van Persie was a total idiot, especially after Wenger warned him at half-time. But as I said, he’s young, and hopefully he’ll learn.

Lehmann, on the other hand, is already 34. This is supposed to be an experienced keeper. It’s got to be a bad joke.

We missed the first half here due to a power outage, but it looks like Prutton fully deserved to be sent off and really let his team mates down. On the other hand, you have to wonder whether his crunching and dangerous tackles came out of the blue or were the consequence of managerial instructions to be tough on the opponents.

In any case, there is just no excuse for not bringing all three points back from a game against a team that is almost sure to be relegated, especially after you’ve taken the lead and have the numerical advantage.

It’s been that kind of season… An utter failure to perform under any kind of pressure, either coming from the other team or self-inflicted. Not a single occurrence of a magnificent recovery after falling behind. It takes guts, commitment, motivation — and all this seems to be lacking at this point, especially from the established players.

I highly doubt that anything will change between now and May. We still have a chance in the FA Cup and a small chance in the Champions’ League — but does anyone really have the belief that there can be any kind of success this season? Not with this defense. Not with this keeper. And not with all these underperforming players.

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