Sunday, September 10, 2006

10% from perfection or disaster.

Its hard to stay optimistic after the start to the season we've had. 3 average teams, and 2 points is unacceptable - regardless of the new stadium. If we want to get anywhere in the league this season, we need to start improving fast.

And the most frustrating thing seems to be that we're only 10% from clicking. We're not playing awful football, and we're dominating games. But we're ponderous at the moment when we need to be decisive, whether this be making a quick break, or deciding when to shoot.

We're all used to Arsenal teams full of binding pace, with Jose, Thierry, Bobby, and Ash scampering up the wings. Now, we seem to take an age to formulate our attacks, which is allowing our opponents to get men behind the ball and stifle us. Because that's all Boro, City and Villa have done. Nicked a goal with virtually their only attack of the game and then held on to it through massed defence. And we've had no answer so far. We pass the ball when a speculative effort is needed, or we let them get back en masse before we really launch an attack.

I was surprised with the starting line-up. Rosicky, and perhaps even Walcott, should be starting in front of Ljunberg. I just don't think he has it anymore. He struggles to beat players, he didn't link up particularly well with Gallas, and he just didn't look like a goalscoring threat. He works his socks off but we need more from that position than he's giving. Rosicky caused an instant spark when he came on, with some lovely dummies, and a few attempts on goal. He needs to be starting to get used to the premiership.

RvP also dissapointed. For all his undoubted finesse, he's too leightweight, frequently being barged off the ball and looking for fouls when continuing play would have gained a greater advantage. I'd say to try Baptista in a half-striker role, because my doubts about RvP in the Premiership refuse to go away.

Especially when my worries about Adebayor are rising. I've defended him a lot on here, but yesterday he was hopeless and looked out of his depth. He needed too much time on the ball to control it, and then think about what to do with it, and he wasn't getting into the box to offer the aerial threat we needed. He causes panic in the opposing defence, but he needs to get a goal soon.

Indeed our entire aerial threat is quickly turning into a farce. We've had the best part of 50 corners in our three league games yet I don't think we've really looked like scoring from any of them.

But we did play some nice football yesterday, which could have resulted on a goal if we could find that final 10%. Hleb, Fabregas, and Henry linked up a few times to great effect, yet all three are just a little too far off their top level to turn good football into goals. Hleb, in particular, came in for a lot of unfair abuse yesterday, mostly stemming from a hatful of opportunities when he passed instead of shooting. He is not a goalscorer, and I'm not sure he can be turned into one, but he still forced a superb save from Schwarzer in our best chance in open play. Fans seem to be too keen to deride him when he gets caught in possession, and are quick to forget that TH squandered many of the lovely through balls Hleb played yesterday.

Indeed, the main problem for the team, it seems, is Thierry is 10% away, at least, from full fitness, and consequently he's playing awfully deep. We, at times, had no real forward line yesterday due to this. He, the lynchpin of our team, is not clicking with the rest of the players. It was important for him to get his first goal at the Emirates yesterday, and he needs to be rested if necessary to get himself back to full fitness as soon as possible.

Combined with a defence that looked shaky and uncommunicative - Eboue is painfuly unaware of wider goings on in defence sometimes, even if he's great getting forward - we have a team that aren't playing anywhere near their full potential. The new players need to integrate, and the entire team needs to get used to the Emirates pitch - with they all seem to be struggling with. They need to learn to up the speed and amount of passes necessary for clinical attacks as the pitch is bigger than at Highbury. Clichy and Rosicky need to form our left wing, with Gallas moving into the centre. Wenger needs to make substitutes earlier in the game if things aren't going well. The triple substiution should have happened at least ten minutes earlier - we might have won if this had happened. How Gilberto, Rvp, and Freddie remained on for so long is a mystery, and there was a strong case for taking off Fab and even Thierry.

But time to gel is not necessarily what we have if we want to challenge for the title, or even a top four place. While Spuds and Liverpool have started sluggishly, Chel£ea, and Man U even more so, have sprinted out the blocks. I don't think ManU have the squad or stamina to maintain their current performance levels. But they'll be red hot when we play them next Sunday, and I'm seriously worried that, without some considerable tactical adjustment, we could be looking at played 4, and 2 points. Hence, whilst we may be 10% from moulding our team into something special, the fact we haven't could lead to a disastrous week which could take us a while to get over. Especially as our next two premiership opponents at the Emirates are Sheff Utd and Watford who will undoubtedly play the 'eleven men behind the ball' game.

p.s. To the Stadium announcer at the Emirates 1) you didn't need to announce that many times about the traffic problems as 2) it negatively affected the atmosphere. and 3) the way you announced it made it sound like Arsenal were more interested in flogging us beer than our welfare.

p.p.s Why is club level always half-empty?


Anonymous said...

Wow, the points you raise are the same as the ones I raise on vital football. (though they're pretty obvious to everyone). In short, I agree with you about Hleb. the sodding PA announcer (I stayed to watch the Man USA Spuds game and everyone was kicked out at half time), our ponderous style of play (especially RVP). But I don't agree about Adebayor, I thought he looked dangerous until we started lumping the ball at him and I don't agree about Henry. I watched the France game on wednesday and he was awesome, no problem with his sharpness. Yesterday, he just didn't try, he didn't want the ball and refused to control anything that didn't roll gently on his boot.

gazzap said...

this is my team for later in the season when we have more players fit.

Lauren Toure Gallas Clichy
Eboue Gilberto Cesc
Baptista Henry Walcott

rosicky for walcott is also OK, but these players like Eboue and Walcott are the only ones who use their pace out wide to get in behind teams.

Anonymous said...

Van Persie has been better than Henry this season and looks far more dangerous and likely to score than TH14.

Henry doesn't look up for i. I'm not saying he isn't, i'm sure he is, but he's been poor so far this season.

Van Persie is class and needa a proper run in the team. There is no way he should've come off yesterday. Moving him to the right, like for Holland, would have been a better option.

It's early days yet. Too good to go down?......................!

Anonymous said...

goonerboy dont despair just yet. did not watch the match but followed it on the net. was like gutted too but then remembered that if we are too drop points then this is the time to drop them. the team can only get better. for the pessimist, they should be very grateful for a draw for tomorrow can possibly be worse...

Anonymous said...

Club Level is always half empty because the beer is free at HT. Obviously many fans prefer to remain in there quaffing than watching the team going backwards sideways and backwards before losing the ball

Anonymous said...

Announcer was a pain in the Arse(nal). Just when some of us were trying to get behind the team he comes on with traffic updates and beer adverts and tells us the manure-scum game will be on the stadium tv. Arsenal are fighting for a win and we get told about another game involving two teams we hate. Seems Wenger was not happy with announcements either.

Anonymous said...

Hi, i was looking over your blog and didn't
quite find what I was looking for. I'm looking for
different ways to earn money... I did find this though...
a place where you can make some nice extra cash secret shopping.
I made over $900 last month having fun!
make extra money