Monday 2 March 2009
Musings of a pensive Gooner
To put this little diatribe in context I would firstly like to say that our recent performances have been considerably better than the results gained, even though I would never claim that we are near to challenging for the title I would claim that five points from the last potential fifteen has been very unfortunate indeed. Having said that, there are some rather clear problems with our squad that I feel the need to remark upon. I don't think there is just one problem, there are several combining here to produce the rather disappointing end product that we have witnessed in recent weeks.
We are too small, too inexperienced and have too few players who can rattle the opposition. It's been said time and time again, but losing Flamini and Gilberto and not replacing them was nothing but plain stupid. Diaby is our only midfielder who has a physical presence and gets his foot in, and one has to remember that he is still a very young player who has not played enough regular games to be heavily relied upon, not forgetting his injury record. After Diaby we have ball players, and small ball players at that, the fact that Cesc is the most experienced of our centre midfielders says it all. Denilson was anonymous against Fulham, but how can one blame this inexperienced lad who gives his all when he looked absolutely knackered after his Roma exertions? Our lack of the right balance in the centre of midfield means we lack drive and tempo on a frequent basis, we also give the opposition far too much time to play the ball around at their pace.
We have improved at the back but we do not look rock solid there by any means. Gallas has been decent this season in my book, but Kolo still looks half the player he once was. He looks ponderous and hasn't been snapping at the heels as he used to, he also seems to get caught napping far too frequently. Sagna hasn't been bad, but Gael Clichy has been distinctly poor at time. Gael seems to have forgotten the basics of his job, he needs to cut our his regular errors, he needs to remember that he is primarily a defender and that he cannot allow his man to escape his attention so many times in a game as he did against Fulham for one example. Johan Djourou's development has been a bonus just to sneak in some positive.
Up front there has been a mixture of good, bad and just plain average. RVP's form has been outstanding in terms of team contribution, however he really could have had 30 goals this season if he was a bit more clinical with his finishing. Adebayor is not the most gifted player in the world and his lack of effort at times has been disappointing, but there's no doubt he's a cut above the young Dane Bendtner. Bendtner is a decent player but he needs to up the ante if he is to prove he has the quality to be a regular starter at the highest level. The return of Eduardo is badly needed. The one position exempt from criticism has to be the goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, he has been simply outstanding this season, consistently maintaining high standards and saving us with some rather fine saves.
Overall it cannot be generalised into one simply soundbite, we have too many problems for that, however a good thought experiment can demonstrate where have gone off course. When one thinks of the Manu side they are not a side one would fancy playing, not only do they have the offensive glitter, but they have their fair share of utter filth in the starting eleven as well as a few highly motivated work horses who would run themselves into the ground for the team. We do not have the filth, we do not have the physical presence and we do not have the right balance in our squad to regularly play a team that can harry and hassle the opposition when we do not have the ball. We go away to West Brom tomorrow and games do not come much easier than that, no disrespect to West Brom of course, but three points really are essential if we are to have any hope of catching the Villa.
Booing the players is completely pointless as they have been trying their very best in recent weeks, also assaulting fellow supporters for supporting certain players that you do not like is just plain pathetic. One man has presided over this weakening of our squad and that is the manager. Arsene has to realise his mistakes otherwise he cannot put them right, if he continues to refuse to accept our obvious collective problems as a squad and as a group of players then our blatant lack of certain attributes in the team will continue to cost us dear. Wake up Arsene before it's too late, the Premier League is not a technical ball player's paradise, you need an appropriate mix of skills to succeed in this rapid and sometimes violent cauldron of passion. Certain Arsenal players may look good in training, when playing on perfect playing surfaces against their fellow Arsenal players in training conditions, however this is not the same as being a good player in the Premiership match situation. We need more nasty players we can love a la Keown, we have become too young, too fresh and too nice. Come on you Gunners.