Forced to listen to the Beacon broadcast, I could still tell that we were being comprehensively outplayed by Arsenal. Viewing the highlights on Football First confirmed that impression. Only Hennessey saved us from a cricket score.
Van Persie`s second goal looked suspiciously offside and at 0-1 we might have retrieved something from the game, but that would have done a grave injustice to a dominant Arsenal side. What the match did reveal was the enormous gulf between the teams situated at opposite ends of the table, occasional upsets notwithstanding.
It disproved the nonsensical argument that we should play more of the top teams if we wish to survive. We cannot compete with them when they are operating at the top of their game. To have a chance we might as well adopt an aggressive 4-4-2 formation, hoping to score an early goal and put the opposition off-balance. Arsenal made a mockery of our 4-5-1 set-up, opening us up at will.
Clearly, to contain such teams we need to improve our defence, but that option has now disappeared. The players we do possess are improving and, as the matches against Chelsea and Manchester United have shown, are capable of resisting determined pressure. We therefore ought to be able to hold out against lesser teams, the ones we now have to beat in order to avoid relegation.
However, to do so we have to stop making silly errors of the kind I have highlighted in a recent report. We also have to score goals and that means going into games with a positive 4-4-2 formation. Tightening up all round must be the order of the day. Hold the line at the back and take our chances at the other end.
At least we have emerged from the month from hell still in contention. We have not been cut adrift and, should we defeat WBA on 20 February, we could be out of the bottom three. Now, that would be a result and a basis for survival.
Win FREE pizza with Vital Football!
Select your team and get 50% off if they score twice.