Saturday 9 January 2010

Lucky Arsenal escape with a point

A chill wind blew threw the Emirates this afternoon and of the 50,000 odd thousand there (the official attendance is ticket sales not turnstiles), only the foolhardy will disagree that Arsenal were lucky to escape with a 2-2 draw.

The line-up was generally as expected, with Denilson, Diaby and Ramsey in the middle trio, leaving Nasri, Eduardo and Arshavin the so-called strike force. I don't know if minds were elsewhere, and I was told after the game that Diaby and Sagna used to play in France with one of the Togolese players who was shot (get well soon), but Arsenal were in disarray for most of the first 45 minutes.

Everton, to their credit, also played very well. Fellaini was immense in midfield, Cahill equally impressive in a more forward role in attack and then neatly tucking back into midfield defensive duties when required. I was also impressed that more than half of the Everton team wore short sleeves in the freezing temperatures - Fellaini about their only player with a pair of gloves - these Scousers were up for it and Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey were simply eaten for breakfast.

Denilson, in particular, could scarcely have had a worse match, his deflected goal after 27 mins one of the few things he got away with. He was miles off the pace, constantly caught in possession, inaccurate with his passing, and useless defensively.

Nasri perhaps did slightly better than average first half out on the right week, but Eduardo cuts a forlorn figure out on the left. AW has a history of playing strikes on the left wing, particularly if they are left footed, and memories of RVP's miserable six months last year out on the wing came flooding back. Arshavin barely touched the ball, the tiny Russian is wasted up front on his own, and without someone like Cesc to link with, he was lost in the ice. Its obvious to everyone apart from AW that Eduardo has to play in the middle. It seems to be one of AW's tics to make players play where the don't want to.

Anyway, the second half showed glimmers of improvement. Arsenal seem to have a mentality of saving themselves for second half performances at the moment. AW brought Nasri's work rate back into the midfield trio, pushing Ramsey into the forward right slot. Diaby seemed to warm slightly to his task, Tommy V thumped one chance into Lucas Neil, and there were a couple of good crosses from Sagna and Traore that Eduardo (now more central) almost got on the end of.

But Arsenal were over-committing forwards all over the pitch, and without anyone in midfield with Song's nose for danger, or his ability to track runners, there were several awkward moments in the game when Everton had several players free and would be in on goal if the right ball was played. That chance fell easily for Pienaar after 81 mins, when with Denilson in the early death throws of an injury, Everton broke from a corner and put Pienaar through by himself from the half way line, with Nasri desperately closing down the 10 yard headstart, before the South African chipped a glorious finish over Almunia (who was generally at his flappy worst).

Frankly, Everton were good for their 2-1 lead, but as soon as we restarted, Denilson decided to continue his odd performance by collapsing to the ground, leaving the Evertonians to charge through on goal again, only for an excellent block by Senor Flappy to deny them.

Now, Denilson was clearly injured and it was unfortunate for him, but he really had it coming. He took a heavy blow from Neville (who else?) on about 75 mins and lay motionless in their box for a couple of minutes, before rising to his feat, trotting to the side lines with the physio, and then coming straight back on. However, with his back injury clearly still an issue, he was now the walking wounded.

It was Denilson who had patrol of the middle of the pitch from our corner on 80 mins, and when Pienaar brushed passed him, the young Brazilian looked a geriatric and didn't bother to even try and chase him. Denilson had not even made the half way line when Pienaar scored.

But still Denilson didn't say to the bench "I'm fucked. I need a hot bath and a massage". No way siree. He had other ideas. Like collapsing motionless again and seeing if Everton could score a third.

Now I am sorry if this all sounds a bit anti-Denilson, because I like the kid and there were a least three others out there who had stinkers (namely Arshavin, Diaby, Eduardo if you're still interested), but it was so damn frustrating. Everton, in truth, had not fashioned a great deal second half in terms of good chances, and to give Denilson his due, I think he was tried to shrug of the Neville challenge and play through the pain. But that was a bad error of judgment in hindsight.

But lets hope this was a Denilson blip, because we are going to chuffing well need him to turn up against Stoke, Bolton and Manure in the next few weeks.

Thankfully, however, this little horror story has a decent enough ending, as Rosicky's 20 minute cameo was probably enough to make him my man of the match, just ahead of Nasri. And Lucky Arsenal picked a few passes in the 92 second minute and Rosicky's deflected goal earned us a point we barely deserved. For all the wrong reasons for Arsenal, it was a great game of football.


Anonymous said...

They say you earn your luck. Whereas I do not deny Everton theri well deserved point, Credit due and pleae don't just gloss it over, we scored an equaliser that was very well worked and whether you think deserved or not I'll take it.

Nobody ahd a greta game but apart from Traore no one had a "stinker". Denilson was just abck from injury and thankfully bagged our 1st equalizer but def looked slightly off the pace throughout. His injury looks bad and I now fear for him. Injuries are decimating us yet we are still 3pts off the pace. A loss today would have been disaster-the point keeps momentum moving forward albeit more slowly tahn we would have wanted.

Anonymous said...

He did not say the equalizer did not have a good build up. He said Arsenal were lucky to get a point, just like Wenger was honest enough to point out. Please at least be honest enough to see this. Arsenal play fantastic football on many ocassions, however it does not mean it should go to your head and us not congratulate the opposition. They deserved to win more than Arsenal did, plain and simple, accept it!

Anonymous said...

someone should make wenger sell almunia right away. he doesnt instill confidence amongst the fans, let alone his defence. the way he crumbled in a heap for pienaar's goal, a premiership keeper would have made pienaar make a decision or forced him to change his mond. he just stood there. and clearly traore didnt trust his keeper, who was in no mans land and only succeded in taking armand out. for a keeper, its all about decision making and almunia is no longer 20. he is simply not good enough.

Anonymous said...

Almunia is a night mare I call him a night bad pls Mr AW sell Almunia and put Manone in pool as soon as posible and need to buy get reed of Almunia pls

Obsinho said...
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Obsinho said...

We got away with it. I see some positive in getting a late goal as Wenger is right that it shows character and drive. We will need that. There is also no need to be knee-jerk. The game should not have happened and we suffered more as a result. Our game is based on fluidity and momentum, which after a week with minimal training will be a problem. Everton are a side of attrition, and Moyes wisely made his team play faster and harder. We coped with a team that was without it's 2 key midfielders and 1 who was clearly not fully fit to play. Also, against Everton you need a strong target man.

However, there are growing issues in the squad.
1) how much longer can we cope without some muscle up-front & will we expect Nikky B to find form immediately
2) will Wenger ever play Eddy through the middle and Shava out wide?
3) has the back 4 got any faith in the growingly erratic madman behind them
4) is a central defender/utility defender more needed than a striker?

Next season we will have Djourou back and I see him as a first choice if Billy leaves or loses form. We then are straight into Silvestre. Bartley looks good, but will need games.

In midfield we rely heavily on Song. We do have options when he is not fit, but they are not like-for-like changes. Diaby & Rambo play their football higher up the pitch, Denilson is a mover if the ball rather than a blocker. JET or Eastmond may be options (where is coquelin?) but the pressure is too high.

I remember us being linked with Behrami a while back, and was impressed with his stamina and workrate in both Hammers games this season. He is a classic squad player (like the Flam or Comrade Eboue) and could help patch the thinning parts of the squad, without causing a selection headache next season.

So I believe we need a player of his ilk (an all-round defender, who plays in our half), though not sure of any other like him. Also we HAVE to drop Almunia.

1979gooner said...

Agree with Obs on the type of squad players we need.

The balance in our middield is all wrong and has been all season, we have been lucky that Song has papered over the cracks with his brilliant work thus far.

Playing three up front can only work if you have some of the forward line tracking back and defending, plus irrelevant of this you need more hustle and bustle in the midfield three.

Our central midfield is like warm butter without Song and there are not many options to remedy things, this area should be Wenger's no1 priority.

I hate to say it but Denilson is not a Premiership winning midfielder for me, and never will be. He doesn't have enough outstanding attributes, he is good at a lot of things but not excellent at anything, plus he's poor defensively. Wenger has too much faith in this lad.

Ted said...

Obs - good points. I agree that Behrami or Scptt Parker would be good signings.

But I have tried this morning to remember an occassion when AW paid a transfer fee to another Premiership club. I can't think of a single one. The only two transfers I can remember are Campbell and Silvestre - both on free moves.

So I think we can pretty much forget the idea of raiding the West Ham cupboards.

1979 - I hope you are wrong about Denilson, but I suspect you are right.

P.s. to the first poster - Traore had a decent game. Not his best and a couple of errors, which he recovered well from and tackled back. Denilson was much, much worse.

Obsinho said...

Denilson us not a defensive midfielder. Watching Ray Parlour and Tony Adams on goals on Sunday and their views seem bang on. He just is not the type of player to be a DM, he is another good squad player to have on the bench.

Thing is on current form, a Song Diaby Fab middle 3 seems fine to me. If ahead of that you have Shava RVP Nasri then I think that is a solid and dangerous front 6. Add Rambo, Denilson from the bench in the middle and Theo, Eddy, Nikki B up front then I still think we are well equipped. Buying stop gap players is very hard to do, as they won't want to move knowing they are stop gap.

I would be happy with a good defender & keeper.

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