Thursday 15 April 2010

Fight, defending and our failings, plus ratings

It's hard to disagree with much Arsene said after the game, many of us can also empathise with Arsene's feelings of frustration and disappointment. As Arsene says we were never really under threat, we didn't use the large amounts of possession we had well enough, we lacked sharpness in the final third on the whole.

For me it has been our ability to leak soft goals that has cost us this season, this has been for several key reasons. None of our goalkeepers have been on top form, we have not got the strength in depth in terms of centre backs, Sagna and Clichy have not had the best of seasons, while there has been no defensive midfield cover for Song, our inability to press as a team has also meant we can be a bit easy to cut through at times.

Some of our players were magnificent last night, while some were not. Sol Campbell was awesome, the fight and determination he showed was not apparent in the whole side, Nasri was excellent, Clichy worked hard as well. There were too many under performers, Sagna has not been at his best for a while, Almunia is just not quite good enough, Silvestre is way short of being good enough, Denilson and Diaby seemed to miss Song, Rosicky and Eboue were ineffective in the final third, while Bendtner was too isolated. RVP came on and was magnificent, he had the fight of Campbell combined with the cutting edge of Bergkamp, a truly electrifying performance, Theo gave us more of a cutting edge on the right as well.

Almunia - 3 - Erratic and a poor punch out for the goal.
Sagna - 3 - Off the pace and badly out of position for the second goal.
Campbell - 10 - Terrific fight and some tremendous tackling. Has he another year in him?
Vermaelen - Injured early on.
Clichy - 7 - fought hard and was one of our better players.
Denilson - 5 - Average.
Diaby - 6 - Frustrating given his ability.
Nasri - 8 - Always looking for the ball, inventive and hard working. Our best midfielder.
Rosicky - 5 - Ineffective.
Eboue - 5 - Tried hard but no end product.
Bendtner - 6 - Isolated.

Silvestre - 1 - Not up to it. His pass near the end summed up his season's contribution.
RVP - 10 - Fantastic.
Walcott - 7 - Gave us a cutting edge out wide.

Overall we have definitely made progress this season, unfortunately we have come up short when it matters and this is really symptomatic of how we are just not quite good enough in a few areas. We need a better goalkeeper. We need to defend better as a team and this also includes having a bit more depth in the squad in certain defensive positions. We need more luck with injuries, the number of key players we have lost this season for long periods has been quite ridiculous.

One thing I have particularly noticed this season has been how our defensive weakness has seen us unable to soak up pressure and kill teams on the counter attack, this has been a hallmark of our previous double winning sides under Arsene. Other teams have beaten us with our own old game, we have often conceded a cheap early goal which then enables the opposition to sit back, defend in numbers and then kill us on the break, this has happened so many times, Everton, Chelsea and Spurs are just three recent examples. We need to rediscover this footballing dimension for next season, possession does not win you titles, defending solidly does. It is a bit of a vicious cycle, our defensive weakness means we can only really play one way, we need to learn to defend better and we may need to change a few personnel to do this, this will then mean that we could soak up pressure when we need to, we need this dimension to our game back.


Ted said...

Diaby and Rosicky have had a very disappointing end to the season.

But I think we say that about Diaby every year. The bloke is a mystery.

Anonymous said...

Why insist on giving Diaby a 6?

With a good player with heart and fight in his position (who doesn't just give the ball away constantly game after game, except for one game in ten) we would have won last night. And other games.

For me, him and Denilson are what is wrong. They are not Gooners, just run-of-the-mill professionals collecting their money at the end of the month. No fight. No ideas. Never won anything, and if they do, someone else will have to win it for them.

Anonymous said...

this is diaby's first real season as a first teamer. in previous years he's been peripheral or injured. part of me thinks wenger should give him one more season to show himself. but another part of me would be sad to see merida go away because diaby was blocking his path...

Rhinogooner said...

I hearken back to our discussion months ago about the most important signing we could make - a defensive coach!

Mr. Wenger would have to suck up his pride a bit. But I'd wager we would be significantly stronger defensively if we had Keown on staff coaching our current defenders....

Uncle Mike said...

It's official: I can now be counted with the Dump Almunia group. And with Dump Rosicky. I was already with Dump Silvestre, and have often been with Dump Diaby. I am not yet ready to Dump Denilson.

Face it, when the two hardest-working, most effective players on the team in the game are a 35-year-old centreback who has been given up for dead twice in the last year (by crap teams no less, Portsmouth and Notts County), and a guy playing his first game since November, then a serious attitude adjustment is needed.

Clichy was okay, but the rest? If Bendtner had played the first 80 minutes like he played the last 15, we would have won. I can't smack him too much because he's saved our bacon a few times this season, but even he wasn't up to snuff yesterday.

marcus said...

Agree with Rhino and Uncle Mike.

I'll just post AW's own words:

"Sol was one of our better players. He has shown the way to some players. What a winner he is. He showed what you need if you want to win titles. He deserves a lot of credit because he turned up with a real performance."

Amen to that.

That's a criticism of his players, the implication being the other players (at least some of them) on the pitch last night don't have what we need to win titles.

Injuries yesterday were entirely irrelevant because Spurs had injuries too. And Diaby, Denilson, Sagna, et al. are good enuf to beat a Spurs squad carrying injuries. Esp. after we had an 8-day rest while they had a far shorter one -- after an exhausting game on a horrible pitch and a devastating loss.

I've been mulling this over more and more this season:

When AW came to Arsenal, he had success, inheriting a rock solid defense, the toughest defense in the league. AW basically just let them get on with it, he didn't interfere, he didn't need to train them. He couldn't make them better defensively.

In 05/06, we had an excellent CL defensive record (the best in the tournament) -- because Keown was our defensive coach.

Now that none of the old back four are gone and we have no defensive coach like Keown, Arsene's weakness in this area is consistently being exposed. He refuses to hire Keown or someone like him again and he refuses to prioritize defense.

You CAN defend successfully (and win titles) by possession: that's what Barca do. But you have to train your players into playing with incredible discipline, precision, speed, understanding so that it is nearly impossible to take the ball away. Arsene hasn't done that.

So we keep conceding stupid goals from very stupid mistakes. And that--alongside persistent injuries--prevents us from winning trophies.

Anonymous said...

Almunia needs to go...Midfielders had a bad game...
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