Sunday 1 March 2009

Goals, goals, my kingdom for a goal....

Roy Hodgson has been on my list of "Good Managers" for many years, and it's no real surprise that he has put together a compact Fulham side who play tight, attractive football. And for a good deal of a frustrating 90 minutes yesterday, Fulham were the better side.

I have struggled overnight to come up with the right balance for this match report. I am quite sure there will be many blogs posting today who a full of expletives aimed in the direction of Wenger and the players. Whilst I can fully understand the frustration that people are feeling, lets be absolutely clear that calling everyone under the sun a talentless shitebag does nothing whatsoever, apart, possibly, from making you feel better once you've got it off your chest.

The other thing we must avoid is using hindsight unfairly. For instance, the starting XI looked a good choice at the time. Denilson sat deep in midfield to allow Nasri, Arshavin, Vela and Diaby some licence to attack. However, whilst Vela kept left, there seemed very little system in Nasri and Arshavin's movement, and so the play was narrow through the middle. That said, RVP hit a header from 5 yards straight at Schwarzer, and had a one-on-one well saved by the big Ozzie keeper.

Also, fair play to Zamora and Johnson, two Premiership journey-men of doubtful ability at the top level, who made Gallas and Toure look muppets for substantial parts of the first half. They also had a good supply chain from Murphy and Davies, which our midfield was truly woeful at getting close to and stopping. It was 0-0 at half time, but could have been 2-2 quite easily.

Wenger had a tinker with the system second half, and Nasri seemed to start wide right with Arshavin in the middle, but matters did not improve greatly in terms of how we played. Denilson had a poor game in midfield. Not that he did a whole lot wrong, but simply that he did not do enough right. It was a comfort zone performance like he had against Spurs recently. Clichy and Sagna in particular, were not able to get forwards much and offer some much needed width. Indeed, both of them had poor games by their high standards, and Paul Konchesky in particular deserves some credit for keeping Sagna quiet.

Vela was replaced by Bendtner with 30 minutes to go, and the young dane did his usual trick of looking ok when coming on as a sub. At last, we switched to a proper 4-4-2 and Bendtner provided the route-one target that we had missed for the first 60 mins. A short word on Vela as well. The kid clearly has potential, but he is also clearly not quite there yet.

Unfortunately, we then seemed to settle in for the draw for the last period. An RVP header hit the post, and Schwarzer saved well from a Diaby header at a corner, but we did not create a great deal in the last 30 minutes of the game. In fact, with a couple of minutes on the clock Fulham had time and space to stroke the ball around in midfield as their fans gave them the "Olé". The inability of any 3 Arsenal players to get tight to any 3 Fulham players was easy to see, and they worked easy triangles of possession. We stood and watched.

And so it finished 0-0. The boos rang out at the Emirates and some fierce exchanges were seen between the "anti-boo" lobby and the "anti-Eboue" faction. One such exchange of views apparently didn't finish by the time we had got to Finsbury Park tube, and had developed into proper fisticuffs. So the Police sat on one of them for a bit and then stuck him in the back of a van. This kind of stuff never (or very rarely) happened at Highbury. And we were shite for years at Highbury. But there is a nasty under-current at the Emirates which is bad to see. Its a sad state of affairs that Arsenal fans are fighting each other. It really is.

We have 5 points from our last 5 games. There are 11 games left in the league this season and I think we need about 25 points off them to finish fourth. To achieve that, we need to improve the number of goals we score. RVP worked very hard yesterday but failed to score. He is a good player, who might well become a great player, but I don't see RVP as a 30 goal a season man.

There are two players in a squad who can score the goals we need. The first is Adebayor, who has had a massively disappointing season so far. He needs to come back from injury pumped up and ready to go. The second is Eduardo, who is the most clinical player in front of goal we have. At a push, you could make a case for Cesc Fabregas as well, who scored a load of goals last season. But lets not get carried away - the two goals a game we need to score must primarily come from the strikers.

And Wenger needs to find a big piece of luck. He has placed his reputation on the line and the knives will be out if we fail to finish 4th.


1979gooner said...

well said ted, you beat me to it again!

the space and lack of pressing in midfield was the area of concern, diaby was the only man to win a few tackles there and that is a big problem,

the finishing is another big problem,

the in-fighting was nothing short of pathetic

Obsinho said...

Still not really sure what to make of it. Arseblogger lays out our stats for the season, and the truth of the matter is we are smack bang where we deserve to be.

We are not good enough to finish top 3, and have not been across the season. The same problems have been evident from the first day of the season, and Wenger has done the sum of fuck all to address any of them. He is a great manager, but he has really ballsed up most major and minor decisions this season.

His players have let him down. But he hasn't dropped them for it, or reacted to it. He looked angry from the ko yesterday - he knew straight away something was not right, but it took him till the 70th minute to actually make a change to the system by going 4-4-2. I think maybe he has run out of ideas of what to do with the players he has. He doesn't know how to motivate them, and they don't know how to motivate themselves.

We aren't unique. Liverpool fans must be furious. But for some reason I trust them to bounce back quicker than we will. I don't have any faith in our team at the moment, and to be honest actually hate them for what they are doing. They managed to remove any pleasure from the whole matchday experience yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Hello chaps. Two questions on my mind today that I pose out of interest in hearing others opinions on.

1. Are we struggling because we don't have the right players or good enough of players -or- are we struggling because we are not employing the correct system, tactics and coaching/training to fit the players we have?

2. If Adebayor and Eduardo both return to fitness at the same time, which forwards would Mr. Wenger select for the next match?

I feel we definitely are lacking in CM. Hear me out on this though. I was of the opinion since the summer transfer window closed that we were in deep trouble. Though desperately hoping to have a large helping of humble pie by the end of the season.

I had no faith in the squad we had or Mr. Wenger and his staff to produce a title winning team, or even one that could challenge, out of the squad we started this season with.

I was really fond of Flamini and I didn't think we had any players that could replace him adequately. Forget Gilberto leaving. I liked him but he was not going to take us forward. His time was up.

I did not consider Denilson or Song to be anywhere near Arsenal first team quality or possess the requisite potential. I didn't even consider either of them worthy of a squad place to be honest.

It is not my intention to be cruel or overly critical of either of them. They both seem like nice lads. Diaby I thought had the physique and skill to make it but he needed to gain intelligence and experience to be at Arsenal level. Though his fragility has always made me skeptical of him reaching that potential.

I agree that there are matches where Denilson plays fairly well and even Song has done a job at times (I'm reserving judgment on Diaby). But I think we have evaluated the contribution of those players at a lower level of expectation than what is acceptable at a club that is challenging the best clubs in the world as we do every season at Arsenal.

I ask myself, do we need a player like Flamini back? Do we need a "defensive" midfielder to partner Cesc? Do we need a box-to-box CM next to Cesc? An all-action type?

I don't know. I can't say I can argue persuasively for any of those. But what I do feel we need is a CM that can dictate the tempo of the match. One that rules the midfield and pushes us forward. One that fights and scraps when others would back down. One that urges us on when we are up a goal and under the cosh with a few minutes left. Or needing a goal with a few minutes left and inspires us to not give up.

Someone like Vieira was? Yes. Keane, Gerrard, etc. Exactly.

Denilson and Song cannot do those things and are not the same type of player that Vieira was. Not their fault. I'm not sure why Mr. Wenger bought either of them, but that is beside the point. They do not fit our need.

Who is out there that is like that for us to bring in? Again, I don't know. But I know there are about twenty CM's in the Premiership alone that could improve us over Denilson and Song.

I will throw out one name that I'd like to see in our midfield and we don't even have to buy him - Ramsey. Yes, he is young and raw and inexperienced. But I really don't think we would be worse off with him next to Cesc than our other options. It would be good experience for him to start playing matches now to improve himself. Give him the same chances and amount of time that Denilson and Song have had. I think he would perform better over that time period.

He is not the optimal answer for us. Preferably he would be third choice to fill in for Cesc and a "Vieira-type" player that we would buy, and he would learn from them. But I think, in our current situation, Ramsey and Diaby should be given the nod ahead of Denilson and Song for the rest of the season, aside from Cesc when he returns.

I'll tell you, it is embarrassing and vexing to see a player like Danny Murphy, not once, but twice this season, dominating play in the midfield against us.

For a club with the aspirations of Arsenal, this is unacceptable and needs to be corrected, even at the risk of injuring Mr. Wenger's pride in having to admit he was wrong and made a mistake.

I think we need to be a bit more ruthless and get rid of some of the players who aren't first team quality to make room for players who are and for the young players to be on the bench.

Harsh on Denilson and Song. Absolutely. And I don't delight in feeling this way. But they should have never been put in this situation.

I'm sure some will disagree with me, and I welcome their intelligent retort. I also apologize for writing an entire chapter here. But it was therapeutic for me if not at the expense of causing all of you much anguish :-)

Anonymous said...

I just read today's Arseblog.


Any comparison to what I wrote above is purely coincidence. I do think for myself - sadly, I shouldn't at times!

Anonymous said...

at least Villa blew it today.


Si said...

Pony, pure pone loc.
We're in the shit and no mistake.
So lovely of the board to freeze the season ticket prices next season though. I'm bowled over by their genersity in general really, I mean the amount of money they are giving to can't hit a cow's arse with a banjo Adebeyor and now us... What a club, what a board, what a well run business we support!
It makes you proud to be a member (red, gold, silver or platinum)of a hugely succesful conglomorate that used to be a football club. I'm sick to the fucking stomache.

Anonymous said...

goals goals goals !! OMG...
so many 0-0....

score boys score !!

Ted said...

Great minds think alike Rhino.

Obsinho said...

In response to Rhino's post, I'll keep it short.

1.a) Yes - we have the wrong players.
b) Yes - we are playing the wrong system too regularly.

2.) He'll go 4-5-1 and play RvP and Ade/Eddy dependent on the opposition.

Anonymous said...

Good ranting boys. And while we're at it, I'm going to punch (well, maybe bitch slap) the next person that refers to Manure doing the quintuplet. There's no such thing. You can't count beating Mickey Mouse teams from Outer Krapplakistan as winning a trophy. It's like Rafa saying he won 8 trophies in 2001 when he counted the Charity Sheild (twice), the Super Cup and the U14 fair play award. Grrrr....


Anonymous said...

You flatter me too much Ted. Harsh on the Arseblogger though :-)

Ted said...

wasn't than half-man, half-moron, Gerard Houllier?

The 5 trophies Rafa has won are:

- Best Kebab stall in Valencia (1998-2005)
- Worst tache/goatee/beard in Spain, 2004
- Worst way to spend £30m (Crouch, Sissoko, Gonzalez etc), 2005
- Worst way to spend £30m (Bellamy, Kuyt, Pennant etc), 2006
- Worst way to spend £70m (Babel, Mascherano, Torres, Lucas etc), 2007

Anonymous said...

Quite right Ted, but they blend together in my mind as the very mediocre self-obsessed plonkers they are.

You've forgotten runner-up in the K-Man look-a-like competition, 2008