Monday 28 September 2009

Luck, profits and balance needed

I can't be arsed to write a match report for the Fulham game. I though it would be wise to concentrate on analysing the interesting bits, rather than reproducing yet another description of a match that has been described many times elsewhere. So a 1-0 win, exactly the kind of juice we need, the slight problem I had with it was it was not a convincing grinding championship winning 1-0 win, it was more of a flukey riding one's luck 1-0.

Mannone had a stormer, there's no doubt about that, I have not been convinced by him in the past but against Fulham he showed real ability. The defense played pretty well, with Gallas and Vermaelen having good games. I think our main problem is that our defense does not get enough help from the rest of the team and this is something that was a big problem last year, as well as the year before that.

Fulham were always going to press and harry us, they were always going to keep the tempo high and try to rush into errors. By and large it worked, and frankly that is a bit of a concern because better teams than Fulham will do the same later in the season. Song is the one guy who helps out the back four, but one man is not enough. Cesc is a ball player, he's physically small and will never be a defensive rock, I would never expect to do that much but he could still do a bit more than he did against Fulham.

Diaby is an enigma, the boy blows hot and cold, more frequently cold. The frustrating thing with him is that he has so much ability, he can do the most amazing things, he can beat men at ease, he can score blinding goals, he can defend well when he chooses too. The problem is that he appears to have no natural instinct for where he should be and he sometimes lacks a direction, how much of this is down to the player and how much down to what he is told I do not know. What I do know is that he doesn't make as much of his ability as he should. His pace, strength, technique and skill are as good as Vieira in his prime, it's just what's between the ears that is lacking.

So when you combine a light three man midfield with only really Song getting stuck in with a three man forward line then you have a bit of a recipe for being overwhelmed in midfield. The combination and balance just didn't seem right to me, I would be interested to know what everyone else thought. It fits with our collapse at City, I just don't think we have the players to defend a lead, we can only try to score more, we cannot close up shop and hold onto a one goal lead if we wan't to. For this reason I cannot see us winning the league this year.

We have quite a few options in this area, it's a great shame that Denilson is out for two months as he provides an understated efficiency that contrasts with Diaby's erratic showmanship. Rosicky might me a good option as a wide man in the front three, Ramsey might deserve a few more starts in the midfield. Another problem with the 4-3-3 is that it does not get the best out of Bendtner, he is at home in the middle and is wasted out in wider areas. I just don't think we quite have the right balance of players in the squad, Arsene has tried to get around this by changing the formation, but this hasn't got rid of the original problem. We just don't have enough hard all round combative midfielders in the squad.

Meanwhile the club's holding company has reported record profits. The full report can be seen here at The return to fitness of the housing market which has resulted in more Highbury Square sales, however a large reason for the record profit and turnover has been the team's success. Runs in the CL and the FA cup combined with the increased gate receipts from a bigger more corporate stadium have seen the money flow in. If Arsene feels he needs some new players in January then these impressive financial results mean that money will not be a problem.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you, we are deluding ourselves if we think we can win with only Song defending in midfield. Fabregas doesn't defend much since last season, Roskicki even less and Diaby isn't disciplined enough.
Denilson and Nasri are the ones we need to boss the midfield. Until their return Rambo should be given more opportunities.

Uncle Mike said...

If this were Dixon-Winterburn-Bould-Adams keeping a clean sheet, I don't think anyone would be complaining about Fulham 0-1 Arsenal, except maybe opposing fans talking about "Boring, Boring Arsenal." But who cares what they think: Winning ugly is still winning.

I don't know where this supposedly Vieira-level talent Diaby I keep hearing about is. As the Boss would say, I didn't see it. I never see it. Every time I see Diaby, he's ticking me off in some way or other. Sometimes it doesn't matter. And then...

Obsinho said...

Everyone called the "defensive midfield" as the weak spot, and Lo it is upon us. Also, we said it may not be a problem if Diaby steps up, and I'm with Uncle Mike here - it was never going to happen.

My hope is that Diaby is dropped, and Rambo is given a couple of the games coming up. They are against "lesser" opponents so it is a good litmus test of his ability. With denilson out till at least Xmas and Song thenoff to the ACN, we will need to have a replacement ready & up to speed. Wenger has mentioned Jack as a potential option, but I am sure we should see him as part of a front 3.

The balance isn't there. But is it there in many teams? Look at the number of goals conceded (as a defender I like to see goals as largely preventable - some you can do little about, most you can) so far this season. Defenders are being overrun as they do not have support from midfield, who themselves are too busy in the opponents box to Marshall their own.

I don't think it's an Arsenal specific problem, but one we are most aware of.

Ted said...

I agree Obs. The massacres that are happening every weekend shows, if anything, that the premier league is not full of teams playing defensive football at the moment, although i think that will change as the season progresses.

That said, it may just be that people have at last realised that the 3 points per win system means that its almost worth the gamble to try and score. Its only taken about 30 years.

I don't think the current issues in the Arsenal team have anything to do with formations. Its simply that Diaby is unreliable and Cesc does not do enough defensive work.

Whether those risks are worth taking is debatable. I am happy to take the risk on cesc, but Diaby just does not do it for me. I think the Will Smith small-beard was the last straw.

That said, and hold on to your horses, Diaby scores more goals than Vieira and is probably a better player in the final third than him. Its just the other two thirds where he is a problem. If he could just stop fucking around and decide he wants to be the world's best player then we could be in business.

Rhinogooner said...

Phew! At halftime against Olympiakos, I found myself thinking "hang on, I've seen this same bad movie before".

Thankfully we were able to continue to create chances and eventually score. I always feel like we're going to get one when we are dominating in the fashion we did tonight. But there remains that gnawing at the back of my mind that we might remain profligate, until we finally make the break through.

Personally, I didn't think Nikopolidis was performing out of his skin, we just made him look good by either hitting our shots straight at him or tickling our shots at goal making it easy for him to collect.

Strange that Eduardo didn't start the match. And Sagna got another rest.

No criticism of anyone in the team tonight. I'm happy to have won and grabbed another 3 points. And the clean sheet was well pleasing too.

Good to see Vela back. I'm hoping he'll get some more playing time now. I consider him a better prospect that Walcott. Not meant to slight Walcott. I just think Vela is more composed and incisive.

Uncle Mike said...

I am the "I told you so type," I admit it. So, A, "Winning ugly is still winning." And B, did anybody notice that it took only three minutes after Wenger finally realized he had to remove that (insert insult of choice) Diaby that Arsenal scored?

It really gets my Irish up (not an easy thing to do, since I have no Irish blood in me as far as I know) to see a team dominate a game and have nothing to show for it, and in this case it wasn't because certain individuals weren't working hard enough. We hogged the ball, took a lot of shots, totally shut Olympiacos down, for God's sake even Eboue was really good. And... in the real world, it was nil-nil at halftime!

It drove me crazy to hear the name of Olympiacos' Dudu called so many times, until our own Dudu, a.k.a. The Guy The Whole World Thinks Dives More Than Rooney, Gerrard And Drogba Combined, came on and made that brilliant pass for van Persie to put us on the board.

Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into with this team. Then that Eduardo-to-RVP play happens, and I have my answer.

Big bonus: Just six blocks from where I saw the game, "Fever Pitch" author Nick Hornby read from his new novel, "Juliet, Naked." And yet the first questioner wanted to talk about football! I overheard two bookstore employees calling him a rock star, based on the reception he received.