Sunday 10 August 2008

Kids impress against gravity compliant Sevilla

A very creditable 1-1 draw against a strong Sevilla side gave us a 'trophy' of sorts yesterday, amazingly the starting eleven was not even as strong as our full reserve side. Injuries to Nasri and Diaby resulted in the squad appearing more thread bare than it actually is, having said that if we are to fight for silverware on several fronts we will have to bring in at least one more player. The game was made somewhat easier for Sevilla by a very poor referee who seemed keen to award free kicks for numerous theatrical dives, the gravity compliant Capel and Navas were two of the worst offenders for Sevilla.

Fabianski was man of the match, making several outstanding stops and commanding his box throughout. Djorou and Senderos did very well, given that they had their backs to the wall for most of the game, they defended solidly against some pacey and skillful forwards. Hoyte never looks good enough, while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is clearly not a full back and struggled defensively.

Randall and Ramsey worked hard, but looked a little lightweight at times and the latter gave the ball away in some rather key areas as he tired in the second half. Wilshere and Gibbs tried hard, but really our youngsters were up against a very strong and much more experienced Sevilla side, they worked so hard to contain Sevilla in the first half and then simply ran out of steam in the second half, resulting in wave after wave of Sevilla attacks.

Vela and Bendtner were two of our most experienced players, however as strikers they were rather isolated and as the midfield tired in the second half, it became harder and harder for them to impact upon the game. Vela's strength and finishing ability were nicely demonstrated by his early goal, while Bendtner showed some nice touches and held the ball up pretty well.

Overall to salvage a draw against such a strong and experienced Sevilla side was a great result and will do these young players no end of good, however it did rather bring home the fact that some of these lads are not quite ready to be playing regularly at first team level as yet. Of the starting eleven, I'd say only Fabianski, the centre backs, Vela and Bendtner look really ready for first team action. The others need a bit more playing time under their belts and a bit more time to develop a bit more physical strength.

This leaves our sqaud looking precariously thin in my opinion, given that we may well be playing twice a week for significant chunks of the season. Obviously a lot depends on whether Diaby can actually get fit and stay fit, and the same for Rosicky, plus Alexandre Song must not be forgotten assuming he does find his way back from China. One starts to worry a bit though when injuries keep recurring so frequently. Just as food for thought, here's my summary of the squad for the season ahead:

Goalkeepers: Almunia, Fabianski, Szczensy.

Verdict: Two excellent keepers should be good enough.

Full backs: Sagna, Clichy, Traore, Hoyte, Gibbs.

Verdict: Great first choice, decent back up at left back but a Sagna injury would be very bad news.

Centre backs: Gallas, Toure, Senderos, Djorou, Song?

Verdict: I'm not convinced by Gallas and Toure as a partnership, but we have good strength in depth in this position.

Centre midfield: Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey, ?Song

Verdict: Fabregas plays, Denilson has looked great, but with Diaby's never ending injuries, we look weak depth wise in this position. Will Song be playing in this position on his return?

Wings: Walcott, Nasri, Eboue, Rosicky, Wilshere, ?Traore and Vela?

Verdict: Walcott and Nasri must start for me, while we have some reasonable cover especially if Rosicky can recover his fitness, while Vela and Traore can cover if needs be.

Strikers: Adebayor, RVP, Bendtner, Vela, Eduardo

Verdict: No doubt that we are strong in this regard, with Eduardo coming back hopefully before Christmas I see no weakness here.

Overall verdict: A lot may depend on where Alexandre Song's future lies and Arsene seems to think this may well be at centre back:

"When I put a player somewhere, I know why I do. If I play Song at centre back it is because I believe he will be a great centre back for Arsenal Football Club.

"In Song's case, he can play in central midfield. But can he play 60 games there? I am not convinced."

This then leaves us very short in the centre of midfield. Denilson is an outstanding prospect, but with Diaby's perpetual injuries and Ramsey's inexperience, we surely need to bring in someone here. If we do not, then our season could be completely decimated by a couple of injuries in this position. Having four central midfielders out injured would be bad luck, having two down and not having the cover, would just be plain stupid.


Anonymous said...

good break down. Remember if Sanga gets injured we can always put Eboue back in hs old position.

1979gooner said...

true. strange that last season when sagna was out, wenger didn't, maybe an error of sorts.

Ted said...

At the time Sagna got injured we were leaking goals at the back and the idea of playing Eboue looked suicidal. The Toure-Gallas-Senderos-Clichy back line looked strong on paper and almost delivered.

The real odd thing of the summer was letting Gilberto go. Losing Flamini was a blow, but why let Gilberto go when our squad is obviously so thin in this position.

AW has taken a massive gamble.

Obsinho said...

Too big a gamble.

It is less of a gamble to splash £6m on Inler or £8m on Johnson or even c£18m on Cana. The repercussions of those gambles failing is we make a minimal loss(or maybe even profit) on their eventual sale.

The repersuccions of Wenger's current gamble could be season implosion, and a loss of a lot more money through poor CL performance, cup failures and no trophies.

blewlimbs said...

In a season where we really do need to shelve some silverware the size of the AW gamble must be measured in the context of the changes in our peer group. Looking at the Manks, Chelski, the Scousers and (God help us) the Scum the gamble looks HUGE!!!!