Sunday 30 January 2011

Doubt, defending and destiny

We are through to face Orient, but it was again not the most convincing of wins and some rather big doubts remain over certain elements of our squad. Huddersfield are a very good League one side and they put up a good fight, much like Ipswich in the Carling Cup, but really an eleven of such highly paid internationals should have been able to put the result beyond doubt far earlier in the afternoon, it took a late penalty to save us again in the FA Cup and the injury to Samir Nasri is not good news.

The red card for Squillaci certainly changed the game, Bendtner's slightly fortunate deflected effort saw us one up and many of us thought we may well have coasted from then on, alas some sloppy defensive work from Denilson with a slack missed tackle saw Hunt burst through, Squallaci and Koscielny were not perfectly positioned, the former obstructing Hunt when he may well have been through on goal, 'may' because he did look like he might have lost control of the ball, anyway the useless Clattenberg gave Squillaci no benefit of the doubt and sent him for an early bath.

Huddersfield did knock at our door for a while before they did actually equalise, Almunia producing one particularly fine save from a downward header that seemed destined for the corner of the net. Almunia had no chance when Lee met Pilkington's corner with his head to power home in unstoppable fashion, one one and our nerves were jangling. The winner came courtesy of a clear penalty after a foul on Bendtner as he was about to tap in from six yards out, the Huddersfield defender was all over Bendtner's back and the Dane had to go down. The calls of this being 'soft' from certain predictable quarters of the media were poor in my opinion, the defender was wrong side and knew exactly what he was doing, how Clattenberg forgot to red card the defender I will never know. Cesc was convincing with his spot kick.

There were some positives but there were more negatives for me. I don't expect some players to come back from injuries and be brilliant straight away, therefore we should be slightly lenient with Squillaci, Diaby and Gibbs for example. Denilson was woeful again, he just isn't good enough at anything, his defending is poor, his attacking isn't great, I struggle to think of anything which he does really well. Chamakh looks a forlorn figure, a shadow of the player who started his Arsenal career with such a confident goalscoring start.

Without Song and Wilshere in the centre of the park there simply wasn't enough meat or fight there, without these two our midfield cupboard is rather bare in terms of getting properly stuck into a game. Denilson looks like he'll never be up to it, while Diaby simply doesn't have the game to play deeper and reliably put in a solid shift. There is talk of calling back some of our loanees, and I have to say Henri Lansbury would provide a great option ahead of the likes of Denilson and Diaby.

I know Arsene isn't likely to bring anyone else in before the window closes, hopefully I'll be surprised but I'm not counting my chickens just yet. I really think we could do with some more cover at centre back and in the deeper defensive midfield area. It is a big big gamble to be approaching such a dense fixture list with so many important crunch games with only three fit centre backs and only two scrapping midfielders. If I were Arsene I'd be sorely tempted to recall Bartley and Lansbury from their loan spells, they could have a valuable role to play.


Anonymous said...

This should be a wake up call to Wenger.If he doesn't get any defensive cover,expect more of such defending.Other epl teams are a different propposition.
Everton are no mean team and could be expected to harass and harry the gunners out of their stride.
Btw don't be surprised they nick a point even if the fm puts his trongest 11.

Anonymous said...

Everton played a tough game this weekend, while we rested 6-8 starters. Let them harass and harry; they'll be knackered by the 65th minute.

Kevin said...

The thought, let alone the sight, of Denilson is thoroughly depressing as we are going to see in game after game just how inept he really is these days.