Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Youngsters superb in Zagreb, but Cole and Reyes continue to cast a shadow.

A performance that was little short of superb last night. I had some doubts about how a team shorn of Henry, Lehmann, Cole, Pires, et al might cope in the electric Croatian atmosphere, but the boys put in a performance they can be really proud of, and which should see us through to the next round and the massive financial boost it'll bring us.

The majority of our players last night were 25 or under, yet they coped with the situation remarkably well. I was pleased to see, and with the performances of, Hoyte at left-back and Djourou at centre-back especially. Hoyte played reasonably well - with some room for improvement - yet it was nice to see Arsene give him a chance, instead of just resorting to a makeshift lb. Djourou was excellent, and at one point sprinted back to make a great saving tackle. There's no reason - other than fatigue - why he shouldn't be starting before Cygan. I also think that Kolo should definitely be upgraded to captain in the absence of Henry. While Gilberto has more experience, I think Kolo has more presence, and is a better leader. Eboue played well, if he was caught in possession a few times.

Our midfield and attack was a bag of energy, not only keeping and dominating possession, but using it to good effect. Adebayor continues to lead the line superbly, and gives us a physical presence and channel up front from which we really benefit from. Van Persie is clearly pushing himself - which is great to see - to drive his game to the next level. He took his goal well yesterday, and I'm glad to see he's improving his support play. The other two stars of the show, for me, were Al Hleb and, of course Cesc. Alex still gets caught in possession a little too much, but he also continues to play wonderful, penetrating passes that lead to goals - such as Van Persie's second - or placing himself in intelligent positions to link up the play - in both Cesc's goals. If he could chip in with a goal every now and again he'll be one of the best midfielders in the premiership. As for Cesc - words nearly fail. It was great to see him take shots on goal - which he doesn't always do - because he can score goals. He was a joy last night, and has become the central lynchpin of our team.

Rosicky did well, but, naturally, was still finding his feet a bit. I think this process may take some time so we shouldn't get on his back. Gilberto did his usual invisible wall routine reasonably enough, but I was slightly disconcerted at some of his distribution.

Overall a fantastic performance, full of energy and belief. It was a a young team that represented us last night but they played greatl football, and refused to be muscled about which was great to see.

However, the game seems to have been overshadowed by specualtion surrounding Jose and Ash. It was a surprise to see Jose dropped in favour of Rosicky, but I'm not sure whether we should read into it too much. It may well have been a tactical decision, or an attempt to shield Reyes from the speculation. Quite frankly, until I see Reyes go, I'm treating the speculation in the Spanish and English media as unfounded, despite what his agent, who seems to be the main person trying to engineer the move, says.

It also seems that, unwisely, Thierry has had a little bit of a rant this morning, stating that we shouldn't be selling Ashley to our nearest rivals, who we're already trying to catch, and that we need to bring new players in. Thierry might be right that we seem to be making our job of catching Chelsea even harder, and that we do probably need one or two new boys, but he shouldn't really be making these comments in public. It undermines Arsene. I agree with TH that it'll be a blow - in terms of the ability in our squad - when Ash leaves, but surely TH can recognise the necessity of the sale, given the nearly irrevocably damaged relations between the club and player. I also disagree with his comparison with the Vieira sale: Vieira was a player who was far harder to replace, yet Ash has several players [Clichy, Hoyte, Flamini] who can step into left-back and do a decent enough job.

A thought that did stike me last night: does anyone else feel that sometimes, without Henry, some of the players look a little liberated? Thierry is such a colossal talent that I sometimes think the other players rely on him a little too much. Without him, the team almost becomes a little more democratic. Just a thought. Either way, it was good to see that the youngsters, if need be, can carve out a solid result away from home without our big players. I hope this continues throughout the season, and that when our bigger guns come back the team can play even better.

Gb.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

QUALITY performance.

Give it two years and we will rule Europe - SO LONG as we keep these kids together.

All eleven starters WANTED to play for AFC.

Cole and Reyes are bad apples. Lets cash in and see their careers go down the tube just like every player that leaves Wenger's team.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot been said about Adebayor being the "new Kanu", but watching the game last night, it was fascinating to see Adebayor dropping deep and playing on occasions almost as an attacking midfielder - much in the way that Kanu used to. This facility was always really useful when we needed to change to a 4-3-3 formation for the last 20 minutes or so of a game - going forward we had three strikers, but when defending Kanu gave us additional presence in midfield. I can see Adebayor being used in very much the same way this season when we are desperate for goals.

Anonymous said...

FOR ONCE I HAVE FOUND SOMEONE WHO SHARES THE SAME VIEWS. I BELIEVE THERE IS MORE FREEDOM WHEN HENRY IS NOT IN THE TEAM AND MOST PLAYERS STEP UP

Kiwi said...

"without Henry, some of the players look a little liberated"

Now that's a brave statement. But a reasonable one imo. Henry is extremely unorthodox and as such he bends the teams play. His standing, output and skills demand that the team plays to him. When he isn't there, the team has to find alternate routes to goal.

Puskas said...

Reyes isn't a 'bad apple' as you put it. He always plays his heart out, clearly respects the fans for the support they show him and has never shat on AFC like someone else I could mention. If he does leave, which I sincerely hope he doesn't, it won't be for financial gain. The lads just never really settled.

LG said...

GB: great post and plenty of food for thought, nice one!

puskas, reyes has beenpictured in an Real madrid shirt posing for the camera and repeatedly saying he would love to play for madrid asap! Now how isnt that being a rotten apple?

I rate him highly, but he obviously wants to go, so let him go!

Anonymous said...

Good article this, important to get back to talking about the football after all the transfer nonsense. Very sensible assessment of the Reyes situation too, we shouldn't draw any conclusions from last night (especially as Arsene has distanced himself further from the Ribery rumours). It must be still be most likely that he'll stay given the noises that AW and the club have made. We should all resist getting caught up in the tabloid nonsense surrounding the situation. Personally, I'm not convinced about the "liberated" theory, but I'm sure we can all agree that it's great to see an Arsenal side playing well and scoring freely without TH. That can only be a positive thing. Lastly, a shrewd selection choosing Hoyte at left back I thought. A blow to those who say AW doesn't trust young English talent. He's a good option to have in the squad and his strong physical presence could be especially useful for away fixtures, defending set-pieces etc.

Come on you Gooners...

Anonymous said...

I stand by the comment Puskas.

He played his heart out until the Battle of the Buffet.

Then he lost his bottle.

And sorry - he is a 'bad apple' - he tried weasling a move to Madrid over one year back, not only saying he wanted to go but also suggesting there were bad characters in the Highbury dressing room...

Only problem was the dumb fuck was talking to a hoaxster.

Goonerboy said...

Thanks Ig.

Re my Henry comment: I would always prefer him to play because he's such a good player. But I sometimes wonder if the other players take more shots on goal, and have to step up their overall level of play, when Tel isn't about.

I just think that one of the main problems with the team last year was a lack of goals, and this needs to be recitified somehow. Arsene needs to make sure that the other lads aren't just relying on Tel to score all the goals.

Re Reyes - I no longer know what to think. It's hard to tell if its actually him being quoted in the Spanish papers. I think he needs to grow up a little bit: perhaps stop living with his parents, and really try and settle into London life. Overall, I think he'll stay.

Puskas said...

I'm not debating that he wants to go to Real or that he's made some poor judgement calls, I just think lumping him in with Cole who has behaved like a cunt of the highest order is a bit harsh.

Anonymous said...

Both are cunts Pukas.

But as you correctly state, he's not in Cole's class.

But then again, has football ever known a bigger shit fuck than Ashley Cole?

I don't think so.

Puskas said...

Heh...we'll agree on different levels of cuntishness then.

Deise Gooner said...

I feel some of the players (because they were young) were a bit lost for ideas when Henry wasnt on the pitch. They got used to funneling most of the play through Henry. Now thats not a bad thing because hes a fantastic player. But i think what we are seeing now is that those same young players are a year older and wiser and are starting to play with their own ideas. They have the belief that they are top payers and dont need to look to Henry all the time. VanP, Ade, Cesc and Hleb can become great creators/scorers. And now we have added Rosciky too.

Anonymous said...

OK Puskas

We'll leave it that Reyes is just a cunt.

Ashley on the other hand is a skanky, stinky, yeast infected supercunt

Anonymous said...

Reyes is not a bad apple by any standard. he plays honest and always 100%. He has just not adapted and after so many yrs it is unlikely he will

Last night was great. Why the stick on Gilberto, I thought he was great

Ced the swiss said...

Very good article... And your sentence about TH14 is very interesting. A such great player is difficult to criticize, especially when he plays for our favorite team, but there is something right in what you said about him.

When AW said "no player is more important that the team", I immediatly thought about TH14... What about him ?

When I saw, during the goodbye to highbury, that AW and TH were in front of all the other player, something disturbed me.

Ok, he's the captain, certainly the best striker actually playing, but his talent is as big as the shadow he puts on the other players.

With all the respect I have for Titi, that could become a problem in the future.

gazzap said...

We sometimes put too much into attacking in these games. But we need to be a lot more solid defensively. even last night Zagreb could have stolen 2 goals from us with better finishing, and thats in a game where they had almost no sustained possession. partly its to do with quality of players but its far more to do with the system.
When zagreb attacked you found Gilberto, Hleb and Fabregas up the pitch way too far to protect the defence. how many times did you see a player sprinting back to make a tackle. thats not right. you never see Terry racing back to make a tackle because he is caught up field. the defenders should be behind the ball not all up front! Let the game come to you and hit them on the break.

Excellent passing though last night. we just need a better balance between attack and defence.

Anonymous said...

The best revenge we can get on Cole is to make sure that everytime a player tries to engineer their departure from their club, it is forever referred to as "doing an Ashley". That way, instead of being remembered for being a rather talented left-back, he'll be remembered for being a sneaky, lying, traitorous money-grabbing chav.

Gloryhunter said...

I quite like Reyes. Tries hard, doesn't complain, the epitome of the term "team player". It'll be a shame to lose him.
Shame about Ashley Cole, too. And shame on you bastards for turning on him. When you were cheering him on a few seasons back, did you like him because he was an Arsenal fan made good, or was he just another stiff in an Arsenal guernsey?
He made a mistake in meeting with Chelsea. And, like any successful, driven 25-year-old, he's too proud to admit it. And so, he wants to get away from it ASAP.
That isn't strong enough reason to call him a cunt, or a dumb fuck or whatever. Whatever you do, respect him for living out every Arsenal fan's dream.
Ashley Cole's biggest mistake was to think that a club and its supporters are "like a family", when in fact, you're all just a bunch of hypocritical, over-sensitive tossers. You love 'em when they're on your side, and you slag them off when they leave.
I can't believe you're ready to bad-mouth Reyes as well.
I'm a gloryhunter (2 years with the Arse), but at least I've got some loyalty to the players.
You fuckers.

WengerOne said...

Gloeyhunter, you say "atleast I've some loyalty ti the payers" lol. Shame the player you are talking about didn't show any loyalty to you as a fan eh?

wengerone said...

lg, that picture in the press of Reyes in a Madrid shirt was taken ages ago before the game against Madrid where he put in a sterling performance. The press just dug it out to stir the situation. I wouldn't put any emphasis on that picture as it is out of context.

Anonymous said...

Gloryhunter

Why don't you fuck off with Cole to Chelsea?

We don't need your sort at Arsenal.

REAL Arsenal fans have seen the good times and the bad times.

Cole is a cunt and so are you.

Anonymous said...

Seem to remember many years ago saying that the Arse played better when Ian Wright wasn't playing! Come on, if you have a goal scoring machine, you'll try to give him the ball.
Hopefully the Reyes situation will sort itself out in our favour. Personally I think he's one of our best. (Gooner for 59 years)

Anonymous said...

GloryCUNTer

'Living out the AFC dream' is playing your whole career for arsenal.

Not renting your ass out to another London team.

FUCK OFF TO CHELSEA...

Cole = Supercunt
Reyes = Cunt
YOU = Dumb Fuck

Anonymous said...

'GLORY HUNTER' YOU BAFFOON !
YOU SAID ..
He made a mistake in meeting with Chelsea. And, like any successful, driven 25-year-old, he's too proud to admit it.

THIS ISNT A MISTAKE ITS CALLED ...
'TRAITOR' !!!!1ST DEGREE

ANYONE WHOS ANYONE IN FOOTBALL KNOWS NOT TO CONDUCT TRANSFER TALKS WITH THE OPPOSING LEAGUE No.1 TEAM WITHOUT ANY CLUB PRIOR CONSENT !!!!
COLE IS A FUCKING TRAITOR !!!
AND A GLORY HOUND ! THE ARSENAL BUS AINT WINNING ANYMORE .. SO JUMP SHIP TO CHELSEA(THATS WHAT THE PRICK WAS THINKING)!
AND HE IS A GIMP ALSO FOR STATING ARSENAL LEFT HIM OUT HIGH AND DRY !!!

TOO RIGHT !!!! LET THE WANKER GET FINED !!
LIKE IN REAL LIFE YOU DO SOMETHING
WRONG ,(TRAFFIC OFFENCES , RAPE, MURDER) YOU GET PUNISHED !
THE TRANSFER WINDOW IS IN PLACE FOR A REASON !!!!

I SPOSE ARSENE SHOULD HAVE BACKED ASHELY COLE FOR TALKING TO THAT CHELSEA COACH WANKER???
NOW REYES IS DOING THE SAME DANCE !!

LETS JUST HOPE THERES SOME GOONERS LIKE ME WHO PRAY ARSENE STARTS BUYING PLAYERS RIBERY IS NO.1 CHOICE IF REYES LEAVES AND IN SOME WAYS I WELCOME IT !

DB10 said...

RE: Reyes - I like the guy cos he gives 100%. Occassionally you see him play a game like he did at Real last year - absolutely brilliant.

But sometimes he's the most frustrating player to watch as he either runs down a blind alley, falls over too easily, or makes the wrong decision at the wrong time.

I also don't think he's the sharpest tack in the box, and I'm not sure that him and Henry get on all that well.

Given all that I wouldn't be devastated to see the back of him - so long as we get an able replacement who can slot in to the team quickly (and doesn't need a few years to mature/grow pubes).

In the end I'd like the best of reyes to stay, but as a whole package I'm not so sure I'm that bothered. Sorry if that sounds disloyal.

UP the gunners.

almost said...

an interestign post and some interesting comments. God knows whats up witht he reyes situation - but ribery woudl be a very good replacement either way and is desperate to play for arsenal and with henry... so its not a tragedy. Clichy will come good this season and its almost a blessing to lose cole or we may have ended up losing clichy who deserves to be in the starting 11 of any team. and hes a sensible, mature kid who im sure will grow to be a real crowd favorite.
Also, i just want to point out that we dont (as a crowd of supporters) tend to give enough credit to the really loyal players - its always about whos going, whos gone and who might go etc... but then you have to think about players like ljungberg, toure and gilberto who never even come up in transfer gossip - especially ljungberg whos been around a while now and could still fetch a nice price. so hers my shout out to to the loyal boys...

JOWLS said...

i hope im not the only one whose tired of all this cole and reyes slating, then having someone defend them, then other people attacking them, then a chelsea or spurs fan winding up the rest of those who are really getting too carried away....yes i dont like what cole has done, and i dont like him, but it seems as if every arsenal blog, no matter what the topic of the original article, slides back into the same boring argument....we all know what you think, no matter how many times you say 'cunt' or come up with clever witticisms such as cashley cole, or cuntley cole or whatever...im not saying i think differently but whats done is done and can we start focussing more on the team that we currently have rather than those individual(s) who are going to leave

gazzap said...

here here jowls. the current team can do well regardless of the reyes and cole situation and anyway I trust wenger. dont you wish Henry trusted wenger as well? there's no need to slate the club for 'selling' cole to chavski when its cole that is demanding the move.

I am more concerned with how we play and not whose playing.

ET said...

Hmmm... I'm thinking, compared to other footballers, Henry's a very smart guy, and very much so is Wenger. Henry is very OK with Wenger and vice versa, otherwise, he would be in Barca. So, why say what he said about Cole?


In the meantime, we have nogotiations going on with Chelsea...

ET said...

Could it be:

Loss of Cole is big => Pay big money
Need new players => Give us Gallas

ET said...

For whatever Kitty Litter its worth, The Sun has reported Henry as saying “Our defence needs strengthening. We also have a number of players out on loan at the moment.

“No disrespect to our youngsters but we must get some more players in. We have a lot of good young talent and good players.

“After last season our youngsters certainly know that they are capable of achieving.”

In the meantime, its 0-3 for Zagreb-Arsenal.

Anonymous said...

Gilberto "reasonable enough?" I was at the game and he was outstanding, he really led the team and cajoled them. It was nice to see Adebayor- who does such a great job for us- and Gilberto play so well cos they are so unfairly criticised. I don't know whether that came across on TV. On you Henry point I've written an article in the gooner (out next month- shameless plug) that says something very similar, also stating that Kolo should be captain. Have you been reading my thoughts/documents?

Gloryhunter said...

I'm just wondering, if Cole doesn't leave and Wenger plays him regularly this season, will you muppets still boo him? If, miracle upon miracles, he's still around in 5 years time, will you still hate his guts, or will he revert to being "our Ash"? You're a bunch of goldfish.
Yeah, I'm winding y'all up. It's fun. But when does being an Arsenal supporter mean you have to be a sheep?
And dude from 12:47, what's the point in CAPITALISING words? I'm not short-sighted, you know.
Ashley Cole forever, dudes.
Peace out.

Gloryhunter said...

And isn't it ironic that people clamour to buy Ribery because of Reyes' "disloyalty"? Ribery's had 7 clubs in 6 years. He wants to leave Marseille because he feels unloved. If we buy Ribery, I'd wager he'll be whining for a transfer within 18 months.

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