Saturday 13 December 2008

Spluttering frustration

Draws are almost as bad as defeats from a points perspective and it felt like a defeat at the Riverside today for me. Boro worked very hard for their point, but really we need to be going away to sides like them and taking all three points. The rested players were welcomed back into the side meaning that only Almunia, Djourou, Denilson, Song and Diaby kept their places.

Boro started with a full head of steam, but a recurring theme was that despite huffing and puffing frenetically at times they rarely looked like opening our defence up. The best early chance fell to RVP, unfortunately his chocolate foot was found wanting. Our only goal of the game when slack Boro defending left Ade free to head low into the net from our first corner. We then looked a side full of confidence, the second goal appeared on the cards, but alas it was not to be. Diaby shot low and hard after the ball broke for him at a corner.

A Clichy clearance took a wicked deflection and landed perfectly for Tuncay, he took a touch and then gambled by volleying a cross at full pace across the penalty box, the Gods were not with us and it found Aliadiere's head which deflected the ball past Almunia who had no chance at all. It was a great goal, but one has to say that on another day Tuncay's cross would have simply cannoned into touch. The goal shook us and gave Boro hope, it really was the pivotal moment of the game. Having said that RVP missed a great opportunity when Ade squared it to him with just the keeper to beat, unfortunately the ball was just a little bit too too far behind him and the opening was missed.

The second half was a frustrating affair, there were several recurring themes that have been seen at other games this season. Boro huffed but never really broke us down, they had one reasonable effort when Downing broke clear to force a good save from Almunia at his near post. The best chance of the half again fell to RVP, but he scuffed the ball just wide after a lovely little move. However there were just too many sloppy errors, we did not have the sharpness to take advantage of the class advantage. Bendtner typified that lack of ruthlessness in front of goal when he shot near post from a tight angle, another classic demonstration of where not to shoot, it had to go across the goal.

On the positive the defence looks so much more solid with young Johan Djourou at the back, he really is cementing himself in there for the long term. The problem with out side today was mainly in the midfield. Song did ok but was sloppy on occasions with his distribution, he did break up the play well and was strong in the tackle and in the air. Fabregas tried hard but there was little space for him in the middle of the park and he did let himself down at times with some loose touches. Denilson worked hard, but he's never going to give us much in the way of width, likewise Diaby.

Adebayor had a good game, he held the ball up well, and looked direct when he had the chance. RVP is still a bit of en enigma, he has seven goals so far this season but he really should have had at least double that, again today he spurned several great openings.

So it wasn't awful but it wasn't good enough, just a bit middle of the road if we're honest, bit it wouldn't have taken much to turn it into a victory. We created enough to have won the game, even though it was not a vintage performance, we simply have got to be better at taking our chances when they come along. It is a team game, we win and lose together, certainly no one deserves a scapegoating for today's performance. Football is easy to talk, you just need to score more than the opposition, unfortunately that's also what the opposition are thinking.


Anonymous said...

there was no width today ... no width at all ... y not use Simpson on the right and Gibbs/Vela on the left for the last 20 mins or so; so much faith on youth only in paper not in practice.
Simpson played as a winger in his loan spell at Milwall and was League 1 player of the year; Vela played as left winger at Osasuna; Gibbs started as a winger and only recently converted to LB position.
Boro keeper hardly made a save in the 2nd half.

1979gooner said...

There wasn't enoug width, true.

Boro keeper was beaten in second half by RVP's shot, just it went wide, he also had to save well from Bendtner and Diaby.

I would have liked to see Vela come on, he can beat people and would have added a bit more directness.

RVP didn't have a great game today, neither did Cesc.

Without Walctott and Nasri, we really lack any wingers.

Maybe Wilshere should have been chucked in, he did well as a sub at Porto and he is a genuine wide player.

Part of our problem is that in midfield we have too many players playing out of position, and some of them don't even know which their best position is!

Jeff said...

Thanks for the shout out, 1979 Gooner.


blewlimbs said...

Much has been said about incompetence and bad attitude so leave all that said...lets also contemplate the affects of lack of stability. Given his injury list when responding to poor performance and preparing for the next challenge AW has done what he can with the players available by tweaking positions,teams and squads...but it is beginning to look a bit like desperation. Perhaps for the time being pending the return of the missing few he needs to stop tweaking and use a consistent team including the bench and substitution tactics. Go on AW lets give stability a try.....and by the way Bendtner and Eboue are still poor quality goods how many "one last chances" are you going to give them??

Anonymous said...

Frankly, im not dissapointed by this performance.This isnt because of lowered expectations from a great club but simply because the process of rehabilitation doesnt happen overnight.

Admitted, we couldve been more sharper in the final 3rd, and song could just have tried not to be song for once, but we played with our hearts.And i think for the first time this season we didnt crumble under pressure when the opposition began to throw everything they had at us.Everyone worked hard, passes were being completed(except song of course :P), clichy never let johnson breathe, and diaby for once looked like he was trying to track back.
RVP looks like hes passing through sort of a footballer's block if you will...but thats just becuase of the type of player he is.

But at the end of the day, the ball refused to go in the back of the net more than once . Reminds me of the good old Arsenal :D
(P.S. a special Ty for Almunia who kept us in the game.I'm still trying to figure out how he did it.:O)

1979gooner said...


It's a good point that we can't expect to recover instantaneously, the rot that set in under Gallas' captaincy will take a long time to recover from.

The problem with our squad is that we lack one or two experienced players in the midfield department.

Hence when the injuries set in we look very lightweight and have to play people out of position.

Having said all that Boro are not a bad side and really we should have won the game based on chances created.

K man said...

I don't agree that we deserved to win the game. Boro had a very decent penalty shout and I thought they deserved the draw.

1979 keeps asking for a bit of perspective...well, here it is. We are in a fight for 4th place with Villa and quite frankly they are in much better form than us - none of our players are playing as well as young, agbonlahor or laursen. We are missing a fair few players who would make a difference - nasri, rosicky, walcott and eduardo - and consequently we are lacking width.

Have a look at the 13-14 regular players that played the 2004 Invincible season. They are way ahead of our squad today. For me, that's the difference. What has happened over the last 3-4 years and why? If it's the stadium costs then fine but I hear we have the 2nd largest wages bill??? Explain please...

Yours in depression,

K man

1979gooner said...

K Man,

whether we deserved it or not,

bar the penalty which would have been incredibly soft if given, a 5% penalty at best, if an Arsenal player went down like that it would be called a dive, anyways moving on,

other than the pen Boro barely tested Almunia,

although I've seen us create more, we created three or four other excellent clear cut chances which we contrived to miss,

obviously you don't deserve to win if you don't take your chances, however we certainly created way more decent chances than Boro over the ninety,

the stats also bear out our dominance of the game relatively speaking:,19764,11065_3004086,00.html

you simply have to take your chances better, the performance otherwise was reasonable