Wednesday 30 December 2009

Diaby to fill the void? And Pompey Preview

Its still one match early, as Song is still available to play tonight against Pompey before flying off to Angola for the ACN, but one issue that is high up the agenda at the moment is who will play in midfield when Song is away?

Song has had a great season and his good result in the blog vote for 2009 player of the year has surprised even me, one of Song's biggest fans. He will be missed, no doubt, and 1979's post on Tuesday neatly poses the problem - there is no one in the squad who is a similar 'like for like' swap with Song, and the risk is that midfield experiments in January could leave us defensively weak.

However, one player who has also surprised a lot of people recently is Abou Diaby. It was almost 12 months ago that Cesc injured his knee against Liverpool and Diaby was given a chance to impress in that creative midfield role. But he failed to do so, and finished the season in pretty abysmal form - widely slated (including by me) for his performances against Manure and Chelsea in the big games at the end of the season.

This season has seen a different Diaby turn up. Or perhaps has seen the good Diaby turn up more often than the bad one. Maybe he is one of the players who suits a 4-3-3 system? Maybe he has simply matured as a player this year? Or maybe he is going to the same doctor as Cesc, because both players look at least a yard quicker this season than last year. Who knows.

But on his day, Abou Diaby is a phenomenal player. And is quite unique in his style - a great runner with the ball, fantastic ball skills, occasionally a good passer, and increasingly strong on the ball and determined to win in back. When not on his day, he is god awful, and those bad games led him to be classed by a lot of fans as "not good enough for Arsenal", but as things stand, if he keeps this form up then he must in with a good shout of making the French squad for next year's World Cup.

With Rosicky almost back to fitness (he might be on the bench tonight), Nasri yet to find his best position in the team, and Rambo also pushing hard for a starting place, there will be fierce competition in Arsenal's midfield to play alongside Denilson and Cesc (who I think are Arsene's automatic first choices) whilst Song is away. And on present form, I have absolutely no doubt that Diaby is ahead in the pecking order at the moment and is good enough to do the job.

So unless Denilson gets injured, I am one Gooner who is not that bothered about Song being away for a month. Its not ideal, but we are coping well with other absences in the team, so I don't see this being the straw that breaks the camel's back. Fingers crossed.

Hopefully Song can give a big performance tonight and help put Pompey to the sword. Its already got to that stage of the season where we have to stick close to the leaders, and dropped points will be hard to recover. I would also love to see a good performance tonight from Eduardo, who has also come in for some stick from some quarters.

Now, its beyond doubt that Eduardo is struggling a bit at the moment. But I don't buy the idea that Eduardo is only good in a 4-4-2 system. Players doing well in certain formations is a real chicken and egg situation, and its impossible to know whether Diaby (for example) would be having a good spell even if we were still 4-4-2 this year. In my opinion, a good player will perform well in virtually any position. Especially in a Wenger side that almost plays the Ajax "Total Football" model anyway. But that also means that a "not so good" player will struggle when out of his preferred position.

Well I think Eduardo is a very good player, but got massively slated during Divegate in August, has struggled for some form since, Croatia did not qualify for the World Cup, his confidence has dropped, and things are just not happening for him. He easily could have scored in the first 5 mins against Villa, but dreadfully scuffed his shot. And that had nothing at all to do with systems and everything about confidence and a bit of bad luck.

Because with the pundits and press circling for Wenger to sign a main striker during January, I think its Eduardo's future that is in the balance.


1979gooner said...

agree on eduardo, big time for him

personally i think his performances have been much better over the last couple of games against villa and hull,

he has been in the right areas, his sharpness is returning, he has held the ball up better

i think he'll come good, we'll just have to get behind him until he does

Anonymous said...

I agree on eduardo's class, his performances have improved during the past couple of games. I just wish people would allow him more time considering it was not long ago that his foot was hanging from his ankle!!

Ted said...

I agree. Its not as if Arshavin or Nasri have been that excellent recently either. A couple of good performances and some goals for Eduardo could make all the difference.

Anonymous said...

3 pts 3 pts 3pts!! However we get them. Preferably with a composed display in what will be a hostile environment. We are down to bare bones but have players with the POTENTIAL to step in and do the job. Eduardo, Nasri, Diaby, Theo, Rosicky, Ramsey must get the job done tonight (that's enough creative fire power to win a game as this)! Getting Arshavin in the game early is a must. And whomever is pulling the strings in midfield (Rambo/Nasri)must have a blinder.

Most of all though we require a disciplined team game a la Villa and need to take our chances when they come as they surely will. Pompey are not at the foot of the table for no reason!

Rhinogooner said...

Line ups announced. Where is Walcott?

Anonymous said...

agree with everyone about Eduardo. Great that he scored tonight (not the best, but its a goal to him) and his performances, as 1979 said, have improved. he's creating chances, working it, etc.