Game in a sentence

Die Königsblauen and their boisterous fans leave The Emirates with three points and the carcass of a lifeless Arsenal squad that managed to make Saturday’s result at Carrow Road seem positive in comparison.

Observations

  • Heading in we knew Schalke had the firepower to give a porous Arsenal defense problems. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ibrahim Afellay, Jefferson Farfán and Atsuto Uchida would be a handful for Steve Bould’s men — Arsene Wenger was made to serve one more game in exile. Unfortunately he still had to watch.
  • Though they controlled the play early, Arsenal (read: Gervinho) were wasteful. Once again the Gunners had the Ivorian play alone at top,  finding little success. Only late in the second half did Podolski and Gervinho swap positions but at that point it was too late. Santi Cazorla was effective in the first half but the lack of movement from his teammates was galling.
  • In the fourteenth minute Arteta was dispossessed by Farfan, who sent a low cross into the box that neither Jenkinson or Mannone wanted to touch. If Afellay accepts Mannone’s contact he has a penalty. Unfortunately, the Dutchman opted for a lazy dive and drew a yellow card.
  • The sloppy passing that plagued the Gunners on Saturday was on display once again. Aaron Ramsey, Andre Santos and Francis Coquelin do not have the quality to play in these types of games. When the passing was on — albeit briefly — they couldn’t get a shot on goal.
  • Santos was victimized by Farfan and Uchida all game. 56% of Schalke’s attacks game from the right side. Towards the end of the half the Schalke had their best chance of the game. Uchida left Santos 20 yards behind him before finding Huntelaar in the box. Luckily for the home side  the normally sure footed striker missed. Zeroes at half, but the scoreline was misleading. For Arsenal, the worst was yet to come.
  • Arsenal began the final period with promise. Cazorla, wielding his magic wand, again the talisman. A Santos cross found the foot of Coquelin, who failed to deliver an adequate cross into the box. I’m not exaggerating when I say that minor threat was Arsenal’s best chance on goal — for the entire game. Their first shot on target came three minutes into extra time for goodness sake.
  • Farfan was fantastic throughout, but I thought he could’ve challenged Santos even more. Rather than drop the ball off to Uchida, the Peruvian international would’ve done well to continue towards goal — it’s not like there was a formidable presence waiting to stop him.
  • In the 76th minute the visitors finally got the goal they deserved. Once again an attack from the right led to a cross that was clumsily cleared by the Gunners defense. Huntelaar, afforded a ridiculous amount of space for a player of his caliber, got in behind Mertesacker and Vermaelen, calmly slotting home the games first goal and the only one Schalke would need.
  • Looking for boost to get a lackadaisical team going, Bould sent Arshavin and Gnabry on for Podolski and Jenkinson. Playing without a leftback, Arsenal was quickly exposed on a counter — from the right, again — that saw Affelay tap in a Farfan cross and send Gooners to the exits.
  • Arsenal suffer their first home defeat in the champions league to a continental side since 2003 as Schalke take over top spot in Group B.
  • Optimistic Gooners will point to the many absences from the team on this day — Diaby, Wilshere, Rosicky, Sagna, Walcott, Chamberlain and Gibbs — but this isn’t an issue unique to Arsenal. The Champions League requires a level of depth the Gunners do not have. Much of the talk in the wake of this defeat will focus on the lack of a RVP type ‘finisher’ but that wasn’t the problem. This team needs three or four more quality players to be legitimate contenders in England, let alone Europe.

Three stars

1. Jefferson Farfan

2. Ibrahim Afellay

3. Atsuto Uchida