Sunday, August 27, 2006

No width, no penetration, much frustration.

I was tempted to write some form of stream of consciousness rant after watching yesterday's game, but on reflection we weren't as awful as I intially felt.

For a start, we dominated the game. We had almost all the possession and the football we played was of a very high standard, showing a confidence to knock the ball about and be patient in the build up. We did carve out opportunities, and, on another day, one of our chances would have gone in and we'd have won the match.

But it all smacks of last season a little. It was highly reminscient of the Middlesborough game in August [or was it september?] last year, when we dominated the game, and boro scored with their only two chances. One feels we still don't have a plan b - even with Adebayor now in tow - that we can really revert to when our preferred method of playing has not yielded fruit.

What seemed to be less comporable to last year, was the lack of width in the side. We seem to be trying to funnel everything down the centre. This was perhaps borne from the fact that our two wide players - Rosicky and Hleb- prefer to play down the centre, while our l-b, Hoyte, seemed unable or unwilling to go down the flank, preferring to cut inside whenever possible. I hope my concerns about Rosicky don't come to pass, but I think he'll be wasted if we keep him on the left hand side. He needs to be in a half-striker role, playing ahead of Fabregas.

Eboue seemed to have trouble getting forward as well, and it all culminated in us repeatedly trying to thread the ball through the City defence, who did enough to keep us out. Indeed, it was not until the introduction of Walcott that a player came on who really seemed to offer us a more direct form of play. He was far more willing to try and take players on and take shots from distance. While I don't think that a lack of shooting is the root of our problems, it certainly hasn't helped matters. I have to say, in fact, that Walcott has been an absolute joy to watch so far this season. The rest of the team seem somewhat weighed down at times, almost laboured in their attempts to pass through opposing defences. Walcott looks like he's just got off the school-yard, and this is by no means a bad thing. He also doesn't seem to be in the thrall of Henry as much as some of the other players, which has meant he's been more willing to try out things on his own. More of the same Theo.

What is clear to me, is that we haven't replaced the goals that Pires, Freddie, and Dennis brought to the team. Only Henry and RvP look remotely like scoring at the moment, and if this isn't resolved we'll be in trouble again this season. I'm really beginning to think that we should flog Jose to whoever comes up with a reasonable bid, and make a last ditch attempt at getting someone like Ribery in - an attacking winger who can score goals. I worry that Jose hasn't got the goals in him and his increasingly vocal wishes to leave the club are becoming an embarrasment.

On balance therfore, yesterday's game could mean either two things. One that the team is not ready for the season yet, and with a couple more games things will begin to click. Or that we're going to struggle again in the league. I still think - especially given that Thierry is clearly not match fit - we will have a better season than last year, but only if our midfield starts scoring, and not just trying to produce goals. What can't be said about yesterday's performance, as was usually the case last season, is that we were 'muscled' out of the game. We dealt with the physicality of the game well, and this, at least, is surely a plus point.

What we also need, despite the moral whitewash that will be necessary for it to occur, is for Ashley Cole to get back in the side. We need a player on the left hand side with not just his defensive skills but his pace and ability to get forward. Unless Chelsea are willing to give us £23m+, or £10m+ and Gallas, we should keep Ashley and get him back in the team. I thought the defence continued to look disjointed yesterday, and some experience, if nothing else, would not go amiss.

We've also started to be linked with some players who interest me very much. Either Re0-Coker or Mascherano would do very nicely. If only for the injection of new blood and,hopefully, enthuasiasm it would give us, we need some new faces in before the 31st. However, I don't think any will arrive.

So, some gloom, but perhaps not all doom.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Rosicky. I dont think we should play Rosicky and Hleb together. They both play centrally, Henry is not playing on the flanks and Hoyte offers nothing going forward. Mascherano would be a great signing and we will need a replacement for Reyes. I hope we swap him with Atletico's Maxi Rodruiguez. At the moment it looks 4th place unless Wenger does something in the market

Anonymous said...

I think you´re right on in most areas.

However our posession needs to be converted into goals, and Justin Hoyte has been crap in all the games he´s played so far this year. Why doesn´t Wenger use Flamini who got us into a European final???

I also think that David Dein and the moneymen aren´t helping us a lot in the transfer market. If we´d settled for a little bit less on the Cole/Reyes fronts maybe we´d already have brought in some good players to replace them, since they pretty clearly aren´t going to play for us this year.

However I agree, we played good football but weren´t sharp enough to make that last killer pass or make the space for a good shot on goal.

gazzap said...

we need to get shot of cole and reyes NOW and I dont give a sh*t about the money we get in. cole came through the youth so every penny is profit, and if we take a £2-3m hit on reyes then so be it... you win some you lose some. its worth it just to sort this mess out and get some other players in. 4 days to go til windown shuts.

we have 3 central midfielders in Diaby, Gilberto and Fabregas - we have to have 4 at least. I also agree that we need a proper winger. personally, I'd try Eboue on the wing when Lauren returns since he offers width, pace and gets in behind but he needs to work on his final ball! we need Lauren's experience at RB. the defence is desperate for more experience. flamini will have to play at LB, Hoyte is not good enough right now to be in the team.

Song, Cygan and Hoyte should not be anywhere near this team right now.

Anonymous said...

Song, Cygan and Hoyte should not be anywhere near this team right now. I think we should include Reyes as well, he is too bloody predictable, I call him a ball loser. Can't wait to see him leave..

If Cole is not ready, please use Flamini

Anonymous said...

No goals from mid-field - 5 of our 6 so far have come from their, 4 from central mid=fielders. Only RvP of the strikers has scored!

If your premise is wrong, so is your whole article.

Goonerboy said...

Ok, so can you see Hleb, Fabregas, Hleb, Ljunberg, or Gilberto scoring 15+ goals this season? Can you even see RvP doing that? If they don't we're in trouble this year.

Anonymous said...

Let us face it. Arsenal do not have the financial muscle to challenge for the league title. I think Arsene knows it and Dein knows it. It is obvious from the transfer policy. Even if Arsenal gets 30million from Cole and Reyes, Arsene will be given only a fraction to bring in some young player of the year winner. The rest will go to debt repayment. My advice to Arsenal supporters is to enjoy the occassional wonder goal and wait for 5 years before you can sniff any trophy. That is a fact. The Champions league final last year was a bonus and 4th place was good luck. I predict first round exit at CL this year and 7th place in the league.

Anonymous said...

7th place in the league.
And you've supported Arsenal since, oh what, 2002?

Five years my arse, you'll be a Chelsea fan by December.


gazzap said...

having seen Liverpool, Man U and chelsea none of them have impressed. Man U have been lucky with their fixtures and played worse against Watford than we did against Man City. Chelsea and Liverpool both looked very unconvincing this weekend. If we sort ourselves out, all is not lost. I think our problems are pretty simple to sort out as well.