Saturday 16 August 2008

Nasri sparkles and thee points in the bag

I'd have gladly taken a one nil win had someone offered it to me on a plate before the game, getting three points under our belts was all important at this early stage. The icing on the cake was Tottenham's defeat to Boro at the Rivserside, top four my arse, some people never learn do they? Forty million on new players and null points, spending does not appear to guarantee glory.

The goal came early, Denilson bursting through and cutting back for Nasri to cleverly stab the ball low beyond Carson. After this swift stike many would have expected us to go on and win the game in convincing fashion, this didn't happen unfortunately.

Immense credit must go to the Baggies, who worked very hard to stay in the game and gave us a couple of rather hairy moments at the other end; Kim forced an excellent save from Almunia in the first half and the impressive tank-like Miller caused us problems while he was on the pitch, one blocked shot of his led to further goal bound effort that Djorou magnificently hacked off the goal line.

Having given credit to the opposition, we must take a fair share of the blame ourselves for some rather sloppy shooting and slack play in the final third. Eboue, who had a surprisingly good game in centre midfield, was the chief culprit on the profligate shooting front; while Adebayor should have made much more of several very good opportunities.

West Brom did ride their luck somewhat, we could have easily had a penalty for Walcott's goal bound header that was blocked by an arm, there were two almost own goals and several efforts flashed very narrowly wide (Gallas' rasping thirty yarder, Bendtner's powerful header and RVP's toed prod).

Nasri looked a breath of fresh air, he has that rare quality on the ball that enables him to jink back and forth, with the defender not knowing which way to turn, while he is a master at creating chances for this team mates with incisive through balls. He is two footed, direct and strong on the ball. If he continues to play like this then Hleb will be long long forgotten. Denilson had a solid game in midfield. Djorou again defended well, other than one lapse for which he made amends with his goal line clearance; he just needs to be a bit more aggressive at times and take no prisoners.

The one obvious gap in our side was still in the heart of the midfield. Although West Brom were not good enough to maintain much possession in our half of the field, there were a couple of moments in the second half when their players breezed through our central midfield area without being challenged, fortunately they were not good enough to exploit this, however other teams will not be so kind. It's early days and we will get much sharper, but you get the feeling that with a brick wall of a centre midfielder stuck in there, we could be a match for anyone.


Ted said...

just got back from the game. I thought we were collectively poor, especially in the second half. Ok, we won the game, kept a clean sheet and Nasri scored a well worked goal, but we seemed in second gear for most of it. Far too many players underperformed. Walcott had a very bad day in the office, but Gallas, Bendtner and Adebayor have little to be pleased with either. Overall, an unimpressive performance. At least Spurs lost.

1979gooner said...

think you're being just a tad harsh.

i know it was just west brom, but we weren't that bad!

we generally kept the ball well, played some tidy stuff, however we were let down by some very poor play in the final third

we got in lots of great positions in the final third and the decision making was wrong time and time again, for example i lost count of the number of times ade was played in in the inside left position for him to run straight into the defender

west brom only created two chances all match, and I reckon Miller will cause other teams problems, looks a very powerful striker

there's a lot of room for improvement, but I don't think the performance was that gloomy

Anonymous said...

walcott has no footballing brain. no trickery, no cunning, no defensive hussle.

1979gooner said...

walcott does not have the footballing brain of a Nasri for example, he is a different kind of player

he is still very young, and given his technical and physical attributes, he will continue to improve

he needs more games and more time, he's only had one season playing intermittently behind him

Anonymous said...

it's the points now that matter, we're still short players who are injured, it'll get better. nasri has got it and will score, on the downside theo's vanished again, he just doesn't look for the game.

Rocky Lives said...

Sorry Ted, but I'm with 1979er. Overall we weren't that bad today and there were some good performances, especially from Clichy, Denilson, Djourour, Nasri and (and I would never have imagined writing this) Eboue. You're right that Bendtner, Adebayor and Walcott were sub standard but the rest of the team was pretty tidy, if unspectacular.
And, although it's early days, after that glimpse of Nasri would you want Hleb back? Not from where I'm sitting - Nasri seems much more direct and incisive than the Byelorussian dribblemeister.

1979gooner said...

Nasri certainly looks more promising than Hleb ever did, if he can chip in with 10 goals in the league then he will be invaluable for that alone.

West Brom are no mugs, they may surprise a few people this season, however with a bit more sharpness up front we should have put the game well beyond them.

The key this season will be keeping clean sheets, we cannot afford to concede as many sloppy goals as we did last year.

Si said...

I thought we were ok, considering it's early days. Nasri looks the real deal and as soon as Diaby is back the centre will be tight. Looking likely that we'll sign another midfielder, if that happens to be Alonso, I'd be chuffed to fuck - he's an excellent player, and although cup tied in Europa, Diaby can play there in Champs League and Xabi could play in league and domestic cups. The first game is never an indication of how things are going to play out. I'm well confident, bring it on. Plus Nasri scores in the 4th minute, of the first game game of the twentieth anniversary season of the 88-89 last gasp league winner. Thomas wore no. 4!! Yeah, it's a long shot, but bollocks, I'll take anything!

Ted said...

Hang on here. I don't think anyone is actually disagreeing with me. 1979 gave WBA "massive credit" and says we must "take a fair share of the blame ourselves". Well, that sounds exactly like an unimpressive Arsenal performance to me.

I'm not saying we were terrible. We were not. But the fact that we only scored one and could have been caught out for a draw is telling. The most anyone can say is that we were not "that bad". I agree entirely. We were not that good either.

The most effective player on the pitch was not Sami Nasri, it was Ishmail Miller. He was determined and powerful and if Djourrou had not played well, then we could have dropped points today.

Apart from the goal, our performance in the last third of the pitch was poor. No one can say otherwise. Adebayor stormed off at the end without shaking hands with anyone.

How many marks out of ten for the team performance today? Maybe 5 or 6 (if you are feeling generous). Thats not impressive.

Hleb? No, forget him. But don't forget that he scored 3 goals last August. He looked awesome then.

However, i really think it would be a mistake to think that all will be well as soon as we sign someone to play in the middle. No team can carry baggage. And we had at least three or four heavy bags out there today.

Anonymous said...

Why do all the Arsenal fans, who cried out for Arsenal to 'win ugly' and grind out 1-0 results, suddenly complaining because we were not at a free-flowing best.
I'm not saying we qon ugly but we kepy a clean sheet and defended an early lead for the whole match.
I think WBA will be a good team this year and Miller will trouble opposition defences.
Think positive:
- Clean Sheet
- Nasri's and Djourou's Performance
- We had a number of player's Injured
- New DM to come in
- WBA not that bad of a team
- Tottenham lost with despite the loads of money they have spent

Anonymous said...

WBA is a good team , a champ from Championship , just like Sunderland before , and look at where Sunderland now and its players , from the three promoted , WBA is the best by quite a big margin. We win with a beautiful Arsenal-esque goal and a clean sheet. Iam good for first game of the season

1979gooner said...

true Ted.

Song could play a vital role, Cameroon just got knocked out in the QF by Brazil, Song looked their best player again to me.

I think he can do the job at defensive CM. He's strong, quick, good in the air, good on the ball.

a lot of play in the final third was poor, but you expect that early on in the season, it's rare to start being fully sharp.

Obsinho said...

Good to see that Ted still hasn't cheered up about the result yet - he was in a foul mood after the game. The oly thing stopping him throwing himself under a bus outside the gas light was that Eboue was good.

Spurs have lost 14 of their last 20 games apparently. Interesting stat.

We were fine yesterday. But Adebayor has to behave like a pro if he is being paid that much. £80k a week doesn't miss a one-on-one against WBA. It doesn't make the wrong decisions in the final third. It knows the off-side rule. And it doesn't run off the pitch in a girly strop at the final whistle.

1979gooner said...

didn't see the girly strop?

what happened there then?

Ted said...

I didn't see Ade walk off, but he wasn't there when the other 21 players shook hands and swapped shirts afterwards in the centre circle.

Don't worry Obs, I am not about to join the "the world is over ranks" and demand we sign a cretin like Alonso, but I feel we lacked fizz all over the pitch yesterday, and thats just not a good sign this early on.

Even the big man in Block 6 was offering to charge around like a mad 7ft banshee. He would have been awesome.

1979gooner said...

sign him up!

ironically the much maligned did well yesterday, while a couple of the bigger names didn't do well at all (Ade for one)

I sort of assume that RVP is a great, but he does have a lot to prove, although he has been injured a hell of a lot, if he can stay fit he has to prove his worth this season

Si said...

Ted, I don't think you are being entirely fair calling Alonso a cretin, I think he's a boss player and could do a great job for us, but the fact that he's cup tied in Europa means we'll probably looking elsewhere.

I agree that Ade needs to grow up and bloody well quickly too. I've had it up to here (pointing to top of head)with stroppy plonkers at the Arsenal, we've got one as a skipper for pete's sake.

Song back next week? That would at least put a pinky in the hole in the dam. But he'll probably get injured on the airport travellator.

Ted said...

Quite right. Its not fair to call Alonso a cretin. He is a slow, non-tackling, smarmy, self-rating, over-priced, piece of ... . I also admit that if we didn't have Cesc then he would be great for us. But thats the problem.

If Alonso is so damn good, why can't he play with Gerrard?

The answer is that they both want the mid-field showboat role and neither of them is a grafter. We will have the same problem with Cesc.

Benitez may be a fat kebab shop owner with the dodgiest tache in England, but I agree with him about Alonso.

Denilson has done fine for me. Alex Song could do also do well for us. I am beginning to think that Eboue can fit in as required. Add Diaby and Rosicky you don't have bad options for centre of the park. So i'm not interested in Alonso.

And he's a cretin.

Si said...

Well, I've been told then. But i think he's ace... So there.

Anonymous said...

alonso only looks like a cretin, he's actually a fine fellow, just wearing the wrong kit.

Anonymous said...

Another stab in the dark, but I believe Alonso could be at the top of Wenger's very short list. The fact that we've not signed anyone says to me that Wenger is angling to get Xabi's price down. Xabi could make a lot of sense and add a lot to the squad at 12 mil. We could've signed Inler or Annan by now, but no. Why not? Alonso could be the primary target, only after conceding that Alonso will remain out of our price range will Wenger move for another.