Friday 1 May 2009

How good are we?

So the week draws to a close and our season's hopes hang by a relatively flimsy thread, we have preciously little chance of catching Chavski, the FA Cup is gone, all that is left is Tuesday's second lag against the mancs. Football can be a fickle old world, when things are rolling along nicely you can only see good in your boys, when things fall apart you cannot see where the next point is coming from. The Old Trafford performance certainly didn't fill me with optimism, certainly our tactical setup was dodgy to say the least, but I think we saw that some players need to be shipped out or sort their lives out pretty sharpish.

Our great Wenger sides have been full of dominant beasts who would have strolled into any Premiership side, the likes of Vieira, Petit, Pires, Henry, Bergkamp, Overmars, Lauren were the best in their positions in their prime. I just wonder how many players we have now who fall into the same category as these legends. Toure has had a very mixed season, but his recent form has been improved, Sagna and Clichy have not been the marauding power houses that they were last year, Adebayor has been a peripheral figure on too frequent a basis. We have many improving young players who have done well such as Song, Gibbs, Denilson, Nasri, Bendtner, Walcott but these guys need more time. Fabregas is still a young man and needs to be played in his favourite position to be as effective as possible.

Over the season I would say that Manuel Almunia is our only player that would make a Premierhsip XI, Arshavin and Cesc have simply not played the games, RVP is the only other player who would come close. Realistically we just don't have enough to have challenged for the title, obviously injuries have not helped, but even with this considered I just don't think we've got quite enough experience and quality in our squad. I used to look at our title rivals in seasons gone by and it was hard to name many players who were good enough for our side, now this is blatantly not the case. The likes of Vidic, Ferdinand, Ronaldo, Terry, Alex, Carvalho, Carragher, Mascherano, Torres, Rooney, Carrick, Cole, Gerrard would walk into our side on current form, I didn't have to think long to come with these few names. Maybe it's a sign that the Premiership has got a lot stronger, I don't think this is the full story though, we seem to have become weaker.

Manuel Almunia has admitted that we froze at Old Trafford on Wednesday, it's hard to deny this fact. Our tactics were poor, but you get the feeling that several of the players knew they were not up to the task in hand. We looked physically weak in comparison to the United side, we also didn't have much in the way of an attacking threat other than Theo's pace on the right. I am sure we'll see a very different Arsenal side against Pompey, Djourou should start for the injured Silvestre, while Arshavin will return, maybe one or two youngsters will also get a run out. It's a pretty meaningless game really, avoiding injuries will be the main priority.

Maybe I'm being overly negative but I am trying to see things in context of the whole season, it's not been dreadful by any means, I think we've achieved a lot given how little experience we have in the squad and how little money we've spent. Overall though I definitely think that a lot of our problems were very very preventable and this frustrates me. We cannot carry any of the Old Trafford dead wood (we know who they are) into next season if we hope to win anything of note, we also need a bit more strength, experience and power in certain areas. Anyways come on the you Gunners, I really hope I can be proven wrong on Tuesday.


Rhinogooner said...

There are an exorbitant amount of players from smaller clubs that would walk into our team as well. Villa and Everton alone would provide a handful.

And at the risk of receiving a, perhaps justifiable flaming, I believe the coaching staff of Villa and Everton would get better performances and results out of the players we have. O'Neill and Moyes are certainly streets ahead of Mr. Wenger in the tactical nous department.

1979gooner said...

I agree. Tactics are Wenger's biggest weakness.

I don't think we're far off, a couple of powerful experienced players in the spine of our team would see us not far off.

K man said...

Good article 1979 and I pretty much agree with you.

We have a few players that aren't good enough to win the title but we also have a fair few good ones. I can't wait to see Ces, Arsh and Nasri really gel next season. If Song keeps up his form then the midfield is not looking bad at all. I do think we need to look at the centre backs - Toure is very inconsistent, Gallas is injury prone and has personality issues, Silvestre is too slow, Senderos is too and Djourou doesn;t have the experience yet. Man U and Chelsea are much stronger defensively.

We really aren't that far away. Let's keep the faith and every thing crossed for Tuesday.

ReZnuK said...

Not sure I agree Lauren would have walked into another premiership side, but I do agree with the sentiment.

Arsene has always struggled tactically, which doesn't matter when your team is full of strong players, but matters a whole lot when you in the process of trying to bring on a bunch of inexperienced youngsters. Maybe in a couple of years time they'll be experienced enough?

Anonymous said...

he hasn't really built from the 2004 season,he has let world-class players go and to be truthful not filled there shoe's.his change of transfer policy and strict adherence to wage and age barrier have possibly cost us silverware over the last 4 yrs?yes we understand the need for youth to sustain the future of the club you also need experienced players to bring these players along.we have too many youngsters in essential position's i;e midfield where a experienced player is needed.tactic's have changed for the worse,it's ok against the like's of boro when your best players are played out of plce but against top sides you get found out like wednesday night proved!!!wenger go back to what we use to and go out all guns blazing!!!

1979gooner said...

Agree on centre backs K, we need more in that department.

We also have too many injury prone players, who knows why these players get so many injuries, but we should not sign anymore and gradually offload our injury prone players.

It's definitely true that our young players will be a year stronger and wise, however we are still short in certain areas.

We need more defensive strength in the squad, plus we only have one defensive midfielder, Song, we need more than that.

Si said...

I fail to see how we can challenge for the title without a defence. This is the worst AFC defence I can remember. But bizarrely our full backs when on form are in the higher echelons of Europe's finest.
You can sometimes get away with a leaky defence as long as your midfield is excellent (ours is not) or you score tonees of goals (we don't).
Someone in the AFC hirearchy needs to have a word in Mssr Wenger's ear. The man is an Arsenal legend, but he is not beyond chastising and is certainly no longer the best manager in the league. I'm sure he has not sat on his laurels, but this season it has certainly felt like it.

Ted said...

Very interesting debate and a tricky one.

cesc would have walked into any team last season, as would Adebayor. things are very different 12 months on.

And things will be again by xmas. Players like Arshavin and RVP are on the fringes of being truly world class. Toure is returning to form. Gallas has been better this year. Gibbs and Eboue will keep the full-back slot competitive.

Nasri, Eduardo, Theo, Bendnter, Song, maybe even Vela, have the potential to make it at the very stop level.

The Invincibles never made it to the Euro semi-final and lost to Manure in the fa cup semi-final.

On form, we are level with Liverpool at the top of the league in 2009.

There is no reason why this team cannot develop, just as it is, into world beaters next year.