Tuesday 5 May 2009

The capitulation

The first few minutes saw us start with a drive and tempo that we had so sorely lacked at Old Trafford, the noise and atmosphere showed that there was still some hope, unfortunately when Gibbs slipped and Park slotted home, one got the feeling that everyone knew that was it. A moment of bad luck killed us, sometimes that's all it takes. Ronaldo's dive that was bought by the referee a few minutes later saw the second goal confirm our worst fears, the tie was indeed over.

We paid the price for sitting back at Old Trafford and not even trying to score an away goal. This left United in pole position, there are a side that loves to play on the counter, coming to the Emirates with a one goal advantage knowing they could play on the break was their dream ticket. Maybe if we had attacked them more at Old Trafford we would have lost by more, but you don't get to semis just to keep the score down, I think we paid for a tragic lack of ambition and desire with our tactics on that night.

Having said that United showed they are the far superior side at the moment. They have a great centre back pairing in Vidic and Ferdinand that is always tough to break down. They had more attacking threat with the pace and skill of Rooney and Ronaldo in particular. This was in stark contrast to our striker Emmanuel Adebayor who looked lethargic and average in both games, he did very little to justify his reputation as a top centre forward. Adebayor was not our only big name not to have delivered, a certain young Spaniard has done very little to justify his huge reputation in these two games.

Some of our players can hold their heads higher than others. Over the two legs Almunia and Song have both performed admirably in my opinion. Nasri showed a real desire to be on the ball in the second leg, while RVP fought hard for the team. Anyway this isn't about blame, over the two legs we were simply beaten by the better side, a side with more experience, more power and more solidity at the back. It bloody well hurts to lose to the mancs like this, but we might as well take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror and learn from it.

Andrei Arshavin would probably not have won us the tie, however his presence has certainly dynamised the side of late, surely this has been a great example of how that extra bit of experience and class can make a massive difference. It is obvious that for us to compete with the likes of Manu and Chelsea next season we need to invest in at least a couple of top drawer talents, of note our starting eleven cost not much different to Dimitar Berbatov, this starkly demonstrates our relative lack of spending.

Just to finish on some positive stuff, our young players have done remarkably this season to achieve what they have done, getting to the semis of the Champions League is not easy by any means. I also would rather see Arsenal end up in the mighty Blue Square Premiership than become like Manchester United. They really are a bunch of arrogant obnoxious chavs, this is perfectly epitomised by Cristiano Ronaldo. No one can doubt his ability, but his behaviour is embarrassing, I'd be ashamed of my 3 year old son if he behaved like Ronaldo does at times. At least we don't have players who look like Shrek that shag middle aged scouse prostitutes. I am very glad that our manager doesn't chew gum with his mouth open and support Gordon Brown's Labour party. I'm still proud to be a Gunner. The one hope left for this season is that we can muster something to derail the mancs title bid at Old Trafford, I won't hold my breath.


Anonymous said...

good article.

bad day for the Gunners. I agree about Almunia and Song, I wish the team actually did have more steel and spirit and determination and grit.

Man U deserves to move on. I hope Barca wins it. We need a lot of work.


Anonymous said...

CR 7 is the thorn in Arsenal's side....and i hate to admit but he really played well...

and i guess a better team won [ sigh ]

BGun said...

Terrific post. You're right: Adebayor and Fabregas didn't do anything to justify their reputation. Cesc, you can argue, was hampered by where he was playing but even then... Another player who was awful in both games: Theo.

When we play with Ade, we seem to lump balls towards him. Without him, like we played on Saturday (admittedly against Portsmouth), we were fluid in our passing and the moves were quick and it was not all because of Arshavin. Ade was as terrific for us last year as he has been horrible this year. I'd much rather Bendtner play the rest of the games with RvP than Ade. At least the boy tries and looks like he cares. Ade was so half-hearted it was painful.

If we learnt anything from this season and the last, it's the importance of having a bigger squad and at least a few old heads.

Anonymous said...

"In Arsene we trust",hopefully he will put his ego aside and realise that the current squad of young players is still a work in progress that has to be supported by the purchase of quality players in order to have a more cohesive team.To put it simply we need to buy a quality centre back,an experienced central midfield player to partner fabregas and get rid of adebayor and invest in a clinical finisher whose heart is always in the game.As for the final i hope Barca maul united!

Ted said...

we can mess around with this team as much as we want, but its built around cesc fabregas, who this season has not been at the races at any stage. he has been slow, doesn't tackle, gives the ball away, and is completely unrecognisable from the man of last year.

unless cesc sorts his head out, then there is a real chance he could follow Reyes into the wastelands.

vieira/petit/edu would never have put in the spineless nonsense that we got from cesc over the 180 mins against manure.

the same goes for adebayor. the bloke has just lost the plot mentally.

1979gooner said...

agree Ted.

our gameplan has also become stupid in recent years, we play for possession and not goals, we need to rediscover our ability to soak up pressure and counter attack, all the best sides have this ability.

pretty football with no physical presence in midfield is prone to failure when only one or two things go wrong,

we need to grind out more results, we need a better defence in front of almunia and we need more grit and power in midfield

Ted said...

do we actually have a gameplan? as far as i can tell, we have now become a team that likes to cross the ball, usually slowly, highly and aimlessly, into a box where we have no players.

i find it utterly bizarre.

Anonymous said...

I think AW will make changes. He realized that youngsters are inconsistent and tempermental. if they show up, great, but often, they don't show up...

...he's going to make changes, hopefully, over the summer.

On a good day, everyone on the team has talent. It gets back to who has spine? Who want to fight Man U? Keep the guys that want to fight, those that don't are expendable.

even though it may have been frustration, the best point in the game was somewhere late in the first half where things got heated and they were getting in each others faces...

...where's the spirit that was shown when we lost to Chelsea in the Carling Cup a few years ago? That team wanted to win. Where was that team?

I don't think the problem was tactics. The team was decent (Man U admittedly does have a better team), it was the "belief" and "desire" that AW talks about that was missing. thats we need, not in words, but in actions on the pitch.

Lets do what we can in the 3 games that are left, and bring in a trophy haul next season.


Ted said...

Well said rahul.

1979gooner said...

It's not as simple as a lack of belief or desire.

Our players are excellent but collectively we do not have the right balance of talents in the team, we have too many pretty technical players and not enough dominating physical beasts.

A lack of belief and desire can become apparent because we get muscled out of games because of our tactics and players.

For example if you player four technical playmakers in midfield, they will do awfully and it may look like a lack of desire, but it's down to the lack of balance and abilities present.

The gameplan was lacking earlier in the season so obviously, there was often to tempo and pace to our game.

Strangely when Cesc was out we player pretty well on the whole.

We need more beasts in there.

Jeff said...

I thought Cesc played ok in the first leg, not so much in the 2nd leg, and I agree he's off the pace from where he was when Arsenal were at the top of the table last season, but I still have total confidence in him to do his part and be a big contributor.

The gap, for me, between United and Arsenal was up front with the attacking players: Rooney and Roanldo versus Adebayor and Van Persie. I don't necessarily think that the Arsenal forwards are so far off from the United forwards generally, but on current form, the gulf looked massive.

Obsinho said...

Having had a bit of time to think on the game, I think it should be seen in the context of recent games and seasons.

In the big games we have been caught short repeatedly. PSV at the Emirates, Anfield in the Champions League, Emirates against Utd, Wembley against Chelsea (twice), Paris against Barca.

Yes there have been some reasonable highs (San Siro)and some spells of form, but no matter how well we do to get ourselves into the position to have big games like these, we fail.

The teams have changed, the tactics have varied, but over recent history we have not been good when it mattered.

I don't think there is a silver bullet for this - we are where we are for many reasons both in and out of our control. But I do think that further inaction would be criminal. Wenger has fought against the tide with his ideologies, but in a world where the top teams in Europe will again be those that have spent the most, he may need to change his direction.

Spending money does not bring success. Ask Liverpool (or Spurs). But spending more money than we have done will give us more chance of winning something. And right now I do want to see us make positive steps forward.

Obsinho said...

Alternatively, we just have to accept it. European football, and Spanish and English league football is ruled by teams who spend more and more. And although not guaranteed success every time, in every season the teams that win have spent money.

Coming fourth and getting to semi-finals in that context can be seen as some level of success. Not the success we crave, or that even counts as success in real terms, but it may be the best we can do.

It is highly defeatist, but sadly that is the way Wenger seems to approach the big games. 451, playinh got the draw away from home against bigger sides - all smacks of someone who knows he doesn't rally have much chance.