Sunday 19 April 2009

Cowardly and a deserved defeat

The FA Cup is now gone and the next day I am still bitterly disappointed with the manner in which we went down to Chelsea. I don't think there is anything to blame but the tactics and the team selection. I think the players who were selected tried hard and put the effort in, they do not deserve the criticism. Neither is it the fault of the pitch. The one saving grace of yesterday was the fact that the tickets were cheap as chips, mine for example cost on 24.50, but moving onto the game.

I was amazed at the starting eleven, not only had Arsene gone for the ineffective 4-5-1 formation but he stuck RVP out on the left wing, where his talent is completely wasted. There was simply no defending this bizarre team selection. If you are going to play 4-5-1, something I don't agree with, then you must have pace on the flanks, you simply must start with Arshavin on the left, especially given his obligatory rest for the Champions League games. Also you need more central support for your striker than we gave to Adebayor yesterday. Personally I would have played 4-4-2, stuck Song in the middle with Cesc, Arshavin and Walcott on the flanks, Ade and RVP up top, why not have a go? I do not buy the argument that you have to play 4-5-1 if the other side have three in the centre of midfield, it's rubbish and arguably cowardly, especially if it's not your normal routine and if you don't play the right players for the system.

As a result I don't think we ever got going, we did take the lead despite Chelsea looking the more dangerous side, a good bit of work from Ade down the left and he played Gibbs through who crossed nicely to find Walcott who did the rest with his left foot, Cech looked dodgy all day and could have done better, the frustrating thing was that we never put him under enough pressure, if we had he looked like he would have buckled. Walcott was outstanding, a constant threat, while Gibbs did very well at left back again. The 4-5-1 was not working though, RVP looked so lost on the left wing, he does not have the pace to play out wide, Ade was horrendously isolated. The midfield trio consequently had only the outlet of Walcott to look for as RVP didn't find space as a winger would, and Ade was so isolated with two or three men around him most of the time. I think the midfield looked poor overall but this seemed to me to be as a result of the system.

Our only hope would have been to hold onto this one goal lead as we did not really threaten the Chelsea goal enough for the remainder of the ninety, this didn't look like happening with a virtual reserve defence and against Didier Drogba, a striker that despite being a cheating whining brat is a very good player. Malouda equalised with a well struck shot but Fabianski shouldn't really have been beaten at his near post in such fashion, as the first half wore on we really struggled on, we kept gifting possession to Chelsea and inviting pressure, we just didn't have the attacking outlets to hold possession higher up the pitch.

We had one good moment early in the first half when a great move resulted in a pacey right wing cross that almost left RVP with a tap in, other than that we did nothing dangerous until the final few minutes. Amazingly Arsene persisted with the 4-5-1 and did not at any point have two strikers up front. The defending was poor for the Drogba winner, Silvestre who played well given his limited pace was outpaced easily by Drogba chasing onto a long ball flick on, Fabianski committed himself rather too easily and Drogba scored. When we won a couple of corners near the end we saw how poor a goalkeeper Cech is, he was flapping and looked terribly unconvincing, it was too little to late though.

Having read Arsene's comments this morning I can come up with no other explanation than that Arsene completely bottled it yesterday. He noticed we didn't have our normal fluency, this was plain to see and was clearly as a result of playing RVP on the wing and leaving Ade so badly isolated up front. His argument for resting Song doesn't cut it for me, he has been our best player in recent weeks and had to play yesterday. Arsene's explanation for the 4-5-1 formation doesn't cut it for me either:

"We played with three strikers – Theo, Robin and Adebayor – and I couldn’t play with four when they had three in midfield."

Theo was playing in the midfield and as a midfielder, RVP played out wide, we played with only one man up front. We should have played 4-4-2 and if we have to play 4-5-1 then you must play Arshavin on the left. The most frustrating thing about yesterday was that Chelsea were distinctly average and were there for the taking if we had chosen to grab the bull by the horns and sock it to them in true attacking Gooner fashion. Despite our ineffectiveness Chelsea looked slow and cumbersome in attack, they had no width, and they moved the ball very slowly when on the counter attack. It is sad and depressing to say but we never had a go at them, we played a defensive formation with players played out of their favoured positions. The blame for this performance and the manner of the defeat lies at Arsene's door. I just hope and pray that this is the last we see of this useless 4-5-1 formation, attack is the best form of defence Arsene. There's no shame in defeat when you at least unloaded a few rounds into the opposition's midriff, but defeat without removing one's gun from its holster is wholly unacceptable.


sanket kambli said...

fucking pain to watch losing a match in this manner

Ted said...

Well said 1979. A spineless performance and what have we gained? Nothing as far as I can see. 4th place in the league is virtually secured anyway, and Arsene has said for months that finishing 4th is not the be all and end all. So why not role the dice and play our first XI in a 4-4-2 formation and give Chelsea a proper test? I think we would have beaten them.

This was a massive choke. If we do this against Manure then we can forget it.

Ted said...

can i just add one more thing:


Obsinho said...

Pathetic. Wenger's comments after the game are ridiculous - he didn't play 4-3-3. That's a lie. To say 20 year olds shouldn't be desperate to win silverware. Please say he was smiling as he said that. Song was tired, and they're tall so we need Diaby as he is tall? SO why play Denilson.

All in all one of Wenger's worst days. And by the sound of things RvP is injured now as well.

A german side just refunded their fans as they lost in a cowardly fashion. Seems a good idea to me Arsene....

K man said...

That just about sums it up 1979 - well done. Still very disappointed. Wenger talked a lot of crap after the game. I actually think I'm more angry with him niw than I was when he didn't sign anyone at the start of the season.

Anyway, it's all about Man Poo now. Play like that and it could be embarrassing. If Wenger doesn't want to play 4-4-2 then at least play the best players in the big games - Song, Arshavin and Nasri have been some of our best players in the last 2 months - they played for a combined total of 18 mins yesterday. Rubbish.

We need Manuel and Djourou back fast. Strangely I don't think we miss Clichy and Sagna much - Gibbs and Eboue were good yesterday.

Also, where exactly was cesc yesterday? Someone said he was playing for Arsenal but I didn't see him.

Rhinogooner said...

Great blog 1979. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who saw it this way. Everything you said was spot on.

This isn't the first time Mr. Wenger has hamstrung us from the off with his team selection and tactics.

The most nagging thought is not knowing what might have been if we would have played the right personnel and system to have a proper go at them. You can't get that chance back now. Mr. Wenger needed to be brave yesterday but it seemed like loyalty to certain players and fear of Chelsea's strengths formulated his decisions.

I won't rehash my thoughts any further. I expressed my exasperation in the comments section of the last blog immediately after the game and I stand by those comments.

1979gooner said...

Cheers Rhino,

Wenger is the best coach, the best technical expert, the best developer and spotter of talent in the league.

However I think tactics are his Achilles heel and this has been evidenced time and time again.

We often get out of jail because of our talent, technique and skill, and I think this has happened several times with the 4-5-1 formation.

We have won several times despite the 4-5-1 formation, we have lost several times because of it, and I don't think we have many games because of it.

Si said...

Absolute pone loc. What a joke. I was at the game surrounded by celery throwing wank boats and the only things worth watching (apart from Theo's and A Hole Cole's joint goal) was Cole being kicked off the pitch at one point and a group of Chelski cunts getting jumped in Stonebridge.
An utter joke of a game, we were fucking terrible. All the recent weeks confidence building was evapourated in 90 mins. Piss poor.

ReZnuK said...

I don't disagree that the tactics were wrong, but I don't think the players can be absolved from blame. Generally most of them were average at best, Fabianski had a nightmare (what was he doing running out so much?), and Diaby is nine times out of ten a complete liability, giving the ball away far too often.

Given that this was probably our best chance at silverware this season, he should have played the strongest, most consistent team and formation. Agreed that most of the blame for this defeat rests at Wengers door.