Ok. Everyone gets a go today and spleens are rising. K-Man makes some good points below and this started off as a comment, but got a bit out of hand, and since I like to share my art with the masses... blah, blah, blah....
(4-5-1) I tend to agree that 4-5-1 is a bad thing but dropping the second striker wide left is a tricky one. In my mind that is a 4-4-2 formation with two recognised strikers. The complaint, as I understood it, is playing 5 midfielders and only a lone striker. I actually quite like RVP dropping wide as his delivery is awesome. Its often where RVP plays for Holland. I think this would also suit Walcott, but agree Eduardo struggled with it and has to play in the middle. I also quite like the idea of Ade, RVP and Theo up top in some form of 4-3-3, but I can't work out the midfield.
(Defending) This is where it all went wrong...
Re Gallas and Toure, again I find that a hard one. I have posted before that I think the current formation at the back is our best one available during Sagna's absence. However, whilst Big Phil lost Hyppia for the header last night, there are moments when Kolo looks very fragile at the back. The Gerrard goal in the first leg was poor defending from Eboue and Toure. We expect it from Eboue but not from Kolo.
Second leg, two long balls between Gallas and Toure had our defence in ruins. The first was unopposed by Gallas and Toure, bounced over Senderos who was tracking back, and eventually fell for Torres (el divo) who had time and space to compose himself, come inside Senderos and pick his spot between the four - YES FOUR - arsenal players who had dropped off him and lined up along the six yard box. Good finish but shit defending.
The second was straight from the re-start, straight to Babel, missed by Gallas and Toure, bounced over everyone and Babel goes down in a heap for a penalty. Can we please keep a lead for more than a minute?
Any long balls we pumped to Ade were mopped up by Hyppia and Svcrotum (or whatever his name is), one of whom attacked the ball in the air whilst the other stood on Ade. Good dirty defending that is almost always a foul but rarely given. I cannot think of a single ball we hit that was allowed to bounce outside the Liverpool box (or not collected directly by Reina). Carragher and Hyppia knock nails into wood with their heads for the sheer joy of it.
So, do I agree we need some big ugly centre back? No, not really. What I think is that we need to concentrate on defending as a unit, attacking the first ball like we mean it and getting to the second ball as if it was wrapped in gold and covered in pretty ribbons for the winner.
Think what Keown used to be like. Or Adams. Or Bould. (but not Andy Linegan, he was shit). Those guys loved heading it, loved getting in the face of the opposition and they worked as a pack. Lee Dixon and Nutty were not noted for their subtlety either. If you gave those guys a lead at Anfield there would be blood on the pitch before the Scouse scored.
I've got no problem with Senderos getting skinned by Torres. I just want the 3 other defenders to kick Torres in the face when he tried to shoot, instead of backing off like scared girls. John Terry would have kicked Torres in the face because John Terry is a cunt and he loves kicking strikers. Keown would have removed Torres' head clean from his spindly shoulders.
We haven't had enough red cards this season. Not enough "clever defending". We've missed that Tony Adams 'wincer' when you knew he was just going to take man, ball, linesman and the first three rows of the crowd. You could see it coming from miles. Loved it.
John Terry, for his numerous faults, is so absolutely committed to his defending. As is Carvalho. With those two to pick from, I'm not that surprised that Mourinho stuck Gallas at left back. If Toure played for Chelsea, he would be like Essien, either told to kick people in midfield or play at full back. No chance that Toure would play centre back for Mourinho.
Mourinho made people watch Colin Hendry training videos for hours. There were two of them. The first was called "Nutting Stuff" the second called "Kicking Stuff". A great watch and well worth it if you see them on ebay. Woodgate only watched Casualty and the Flying Doctors. If Woodgate was at Chelsea, Mourinho would have sent him home to play on Winston Bogarde's Playstation.
So what do we do. Well, its quite simple - we need to buy Kolo and Gallas a plank of wood and some nails. We won't get better at the back until those two can put Ikea furniture together just with their heads.
Or we need to ban the long ball in the modern game. Its just not fair on poor little us.
I'm going for a lie down.
I am one of the biggest DOOMERS in the world, and last night got to me. But having got bored of hating our lack of luck, and slowly accepting that what goes around will come around (which means Mascherano, Babel, Torres and the ref all die in a horrific fiery plane crash into a sea-infested with AIDS ridden sharks whose teeth aren't sharp enough to actually cut through their wretched flesh so just chew them to a mush).
So if we are going to win anything, ever, we need to defend like a professional team. Not like me. Or Ted, who as a centre back can allow the opposition to score from goal kicks by letting the ball bounce over him while he thinks about maybe heading it. It happened. I was the other centre back.
We aren't good enough to win anything when we concede 2 goals against Birmingham and Bolton, 6 against Liverpool in 3 games, and no clean sheets for almost 2 months. No matter how beautifully Cesc, Hleb and Theo pass it round up front, we need to keep a clean sheet.
We may not need to sign anyone amazing, as the players we have have defendined brilliantly for a long time. We may have to just get on with doing the ugly stuff in the game a whole lot better.
100% right. I hate heading the ball. I think it has something to do with protecting my beautiful face.
Where do you keep that beautiful face, and why do you insist on wearing that horribly deformed one instead then?
Very funny article Ted. Lets bring back Keown - he doesn't need to run anyway.
f*cking great points about the defending,
it's easy to make big Phil the scpaegoat, but on further detailed inspection it is apparent that the goals were symptomatic of systematic defensive failure,
big Phil has been more consistently solid over the last 3 months than Kolo has been all season,
one just wonders what exactly is the problem with the defense:
1. Is Kolo/gallas or Senderos/Gallas our strongest pairing?
2. Sagna's absence has made a difference
3. overall physical size of the side, being small in centre mid means our centre backs don't get much help in the air from the midfield
4. we are a young side, defenses often take time to grow and solidify together, maybe this bunch will come good give a bit more time
Personally I reckon our best combination is Sagna, Gallas, Senderos, Clichmeister.
I think you need to defend as a side too, remember when the team realised this and the midfield had to provide more protection to the back four in the days of petit/vieira.
Hleb and Eboue don't do that much defensively do they?
In response to your 4-3-3 idea, how about:
RVP Ade Theo
Hleb Flam Fab
Clich Gallas Toure Sagna
Bit lightweight but lots of pace.
I agree 100% with points 2, 3 and 4 that 1979Gooner makes, but don't know the answer to 1.
However, maybe it doesn't matter that much what our strongest centre-back pairing is - Wenger can pick between Toure / Gallas / Senderos depending on their respective form and the opposition.
Also, its a good point that it takes time for defences to grow together. Hyppia and Caragher have been at Liverpool since the ice age, whereas Kolo is now Arsenal's most experienced current regular player (thats quite amazing).
I also like K-Man's 4-3-3. I suspect like all these systems, you have to defend with 5 accross the midfield but give the front 3 licence to get forwards, a la Chelsea with Kalou and Cole, and ManUre with Ronaldo and Nani.
Plus, if Wenger does go and buy a decent centre back this summer, then I would like to see Kolo switched into midfield:
RVP Ade Theo
Clich Gallas (Phil)Sagna
That formation would win every game 6-0 and opponents would go on holiday rather than play us.
Hope you lot are satisfied that am losing my blogging v plates to your corner of the internet. Impressed by depth of analysis, (some of deeno`s understandably hysterical, self-deluded post-match "they cheated, its not fair" tantrum excepted) aswell as how much time you all apparently have on your hands.
For me it was much more simple - this is probably not v original but haven`t read press reaction so please forgive - Wenger produces teams that are better at playing attractive football than winning (ugly if necessary) the really big occasions, and, as I pointed out to big K, the "Arsenal look awesome then bottle it" storyline works as a metaphor for your season. So the arcane detail of the footballing strategy debate misses the point that although an outstanding football coach AW probably just isn`t as good at the psychology stuff as Fergie, Mourinho or even Benitez, and as a result you`ll continue to be there or thereabouts in loads of major tournaments and actually win a fairly low proportion of them, giving you plenty more scope to fill this lovely space you have with disappointment/bitterness, depending on your inclination.
ps is it part of this blogging thing that I have to invent a daft pseudonym? like ricardo de buenos aires?
hello ricardo de argieland,
I'm sure they were Mascherano's tackling on Tuesday, just how they like it over there.
The self delusion has passed and I now accept that these things happen, could have gone either way.
I'm happy with our pretty football and bad luck.
With the eye of retrospect it's amusing how one refereeing decision can be the difference between tactical genius and tactical naivety.
On the touche, if Wenger is such a produced of bottlers then I wonder why he's managed to win so many FA cups and league titles?
Slight flaw in your theory me thinks.
sorry missed the verb before Mascherano, I'm sure you can guess it given my immense bitterness.
I don't buy the angle that Wenger gets out psyched by Fergie, Mourinho or Benitez.
As 1979Gooner says, the victor gets to be seen as the pychological mastermind when in fact, it has very little to do with it.
Benitez is one of the least impressive pyscho-analytical managers in the league. Everyone just thinks he is a big fat idiot who looks like he used to sell tricks behind a kebab job in downtown Madrid. I don't know anyone who takes him seriously. Even Gary Megson and Roy Hodgson have more credibility.
Its also frankly ridiculous to suggest that Wenger's record of 3 League Titles and 4 FA Cups means that Arsenal bottle it on the big occassion.
Liverpool started this season as the media's favourites to win the league. Benitez made a balls-up of that and now the attention switches to the Champs League, yet again. However, didn't Valencia lose 2 Champs League finals in a row under Benitez. So surely that means Benitez is exactly the sort of bottler that you are accussing Wenger of being.
The same applies to Fergie. Despite 18 years at the top, Manure have only made the Champs league final once. So does Fergie bottle it on the big occassion? Don't think so.
What about Mourinho's record. Two semi-finals "bottled" against Liverpool. Thats a "no" again - just dodgy Luis Garcia goals in some of the world's most tedious football matches.
However, I do agree that Arsenal don't do the dirty stuff well enough. If we can sort it out then it will be second coming of a Golden Age with the Glorious Arsenal rolling all before them.
Benitez will be selling Kebabs outside the ground by then.
You may have a point; although think the hastiness of your responses suggests i mite have touched a nerve. Arsenal have obviously won lots of stuff under AW but they have generally done so comfortably (granted exception of 2005 fa cup). Tues just conjured up couple of memories of finals where arsenal chucked away leads. Statistically obvious that number of cup runs where teams think they are in with a good shout but end in disappointment will greatly outnumber those resulting in triumph; but am paying your lot a complement when i point out that AW may be unrivalled in terms of producing teams which look among the very best in europe then underperform on the very biggest stage (ie closing stages of champos league).
Congrats Ted on having your silky prose on art of defending used in 1 of my lessons; congrats 79 gooner on calming down and finding some perspective, and good luck tomorrow - genuinely hope you do them!tr
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