Tuesday 13 January 2009

Wenger's Gambles at Half Term

These comments have appeared in today's press as direct quotes from Andrei Arshavin:

"In some games last season, we played football which was very similar to that of Arsenal," he then adds "I would prefer my present No 10 but in the team where I hope to move it's not vacant. So I'm ready for any number they are going to offer me."

Whilst that seems the strongest indicator yet that Arshavin thinks he is heading to Arsenal, it should be remembered that whilst we may want to read the two sentences together and think - "why the hell is Gallas our no.10 anyway?", we should keep in mind that every single club in the entire world already has someone with the no.10 shirt, so its not a done deal yet.

Anyway, I am not that bothered about new signings at the moment. Instead, I thought its about time (in fact its late) for some half-term reports. These will be quite short as having given it a great deal of thought, its been something of a nothing season so far. An enormous amount of unrealistic expectation, an enormous amount of criticism of some half-decent players, a couple of good results, but overall more bad ones. So here
we go.

On the positive side, I continue to think we have the two best full backs in the country. Neither Sagna nor Clichy have been faultless, and it appears that they have been concentrating on their defending recently more than getting forwards, but both of them are class acts. Johan Djourou is coming through and whilst there are some crazed fanatics in his fan club (K-Man), he is not the finished article yet so lets not get too carried away. Nasri is showing a bit of consistency at the moment, and Walcott was just coming into some real form before busting a shoulder away on international duty. RVP is now looking like he is getting back to his best, and whilst Adebayor doesn't like it when its cold, he has just about scored enough goals so far.

So its not all bad. And thats really the point. Its damn easy to vent an enormous of spleen about how bad Eboue is, or Bendtner, or Denilson, or anyone else, but they are not usually half as bad as people make out.

However, I said on this site before the start of the season that Wenger's big gamble was on Gilberto and Rosicky. In Gilblet's case, I thought it was foolish to let him go having also lost Flamini in the Summer. Whatever the views on Denilson, Song and Diaby etc, those guys were second or third fiddle last year when Giblet and Flamini were around and its been a big step up for them this season.

Rosicky might be the even bigger gamble. With Hleb gone to Barca, Rosicky was the only remaining established wide player left at the club. Yes, prospects like Walcott were coming through, and Nasri was signed in the Summer, but they are both very young and relatively inexperienced compared to Hleb and Rosicky. I have no idea what the medical advice on Rosicky was during the Summer, but I honestly believe that he was expected to be playing football again within 2008. He is a massive loss to us.

So, in conclusion, Wenger's half-term report is not looking good. It was Arsene who took those gambles and neither has paid off. For what its worth, I think we could have got away with one of them, but not both. Lastly, and going back to the start of this post, the Arshavin signing (if it happens) looks to me like a replacement for Rosicky.

Arshavin may not get the no. 10 shirt, but I would not be surprised if he is not wearing the no. 7 by next season.


Obsinho said...

The first-half has been a disappointment, and I don't think the expectations were unrealistic based on our form for 80% of last season.

Wenger's gambles have cost us, and I would also add not cashing in on Adebayor as a misfire as well. The sums of money that were being offered were very high, and I do think if we had the cash available during the summer we would have made the signings we needed in the middle/out-wide. Ade hasn't kicked on at all from last season on a performance level nor a goals one. Some of his misses in th last month are close to unforgivable given the way opponents are approaching games against us.

Anyway, predictions - Arshavin will come and will replace Rosicky. He won't do much this season (will score on his debut). I think Denilson will continue to improve, and Theo & Eddie will come back firing. Vela will get more time, Jack may score a goal, and we'll get to the FA cup final, and finish third in the prem.

Spurs will scrape through in 16th place, then spend another £50m on shit players, and we'll be hearing another summer of "this is our year" from all the spud.

Si said...

Obs, like your points. Only one thing I have to take exception with and that is making it to the FA cup final. We will only make it to the cup final if Wenger starts taking it seriously again. It is all well and good playing an inexperienced keeper etc in the FAC if we are firing on all cylinders - ripping up the league and Champs league, but we're not. The FA Cup is a very realistic trophy for us this season and it needs to be given a little more respect.
Players coming in - well Shaved Arse is a good player, we all know that, and I agree he is a replacement for the one foot in the grave Rosicky. I'm just hoping there is one more on the horizon. A bustling, attacking, ferocious midfielder who can play down the middle and also has the grace to play wide................................ Ugly Frank!
With Oktoberfest all over, why else is Ugly Frank still in Munchen? A man can only eat so many BMWs. Come on Ugly Frank, we'll love you forever over at the Arsenal, even though you are so ugly. We've had loads of ugly players and we've loved them all! Come on Ugly Frank, wahey!!! Car accident you say? Bollocks, just ugly mate, but that's alright.

Anonymous said...

It's been rough season so far but i'm surprised considering it's virtually the same team as last season by 3?.We miss Rosicky as he made runs into the box and into space which none of our midfielders are doing it also goes for Flamini who protected the back four and broke up opponents attacks.This let Fabregas dictate the play but now Cesc is having to do both jobs as Denilson is to much like Cesc.Adebayor is a 1 season wonder,he seems not interested and for the money he's getting he should be in double figures in the LEAGUE by now not 3 in 1 game and 4 in 14!!!.Mr Wenger has possibly mis-judged this season by not replacing Flamini or keeping Gilberto or getting a striker in or selling Adebayor.We have enough attacking midfielders like Diarby,Vela and Theo will be back in a month or so but we do need another experienced midfielder and a commanding center back and now a 20+ striker who will do it year in year out and not worry about a move to the sun!.
We've been lucky that the teams above have faltered this year also and we have kept in touch and with this run we could have a great last part of the season.If we buy 2/3 players in the right positions you never know we could rub shit in the media's faces but it also means the big faces getting up to the plate and giving it 110% this will give the youngsters confidence to progress.
Keep the faith and have positive waves and wait and see if not this season next season.

1979gooner said...

I think if we can finish top four and maybe get close to a cup, then that would be a relative success.

Obsinho said...

I stand by the cup comments. Wenger took the game against Plymouth seriously and will continue to do so.

He know his experiment has some strong and noisy doubters, and a cup win can buy him and his squad some time away from criticism. Look at Spurs fans claiming they are a better team in recent years than us as they have won a joke cup. Bragging rights do matter, and the numbers of fans looking not to renew season tickets is testament to the importance of allowing "newer" fans to be proud to be Gooners.

It is easy for older fans to say good riddance to the "plastics", as we have supported the likes of Hillier, McGoldrick and worse. But Arsenal need a full Emirates and needs international interest if they are to continue punching above our bank-balance's weight.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with statement that we have the two best full backs in the country, Sagna is OK, I am satisfied with his performances, but I would like to see Eboue on that position again, he was so powerfull and by far the best right back in the world.