Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's never nice to lose, but perspective is needed.

I had my doubts about yesterday's match before Kick off: we've never travelled well to Russia or ex-soviet union countries. So, when I saw Moscow had taken a relatively early lead, I feared the worst; justifiably, it would seem.

Due to my new working status [its lunchtime] I couldn't watch the match, which was dissapointing. I wanted to see how Arsenal would do in difficult conditions - the freezing cold, relatively hostile fans, and far, far from home. And from the highlights it was difficult to judge how well we played.

It appears Moscow were extremely effective in stifling Fabregas and Henry, nullifying much of our creative impetus. Gilberto, in the clips I saw, won a few tackles, yet also got caught in possession and gave the ball away a few times needlessly. These mistakes were only rectified by some, frankly, heroic back-tackling by Kolo. I also noted that RvP was preferred in a five man midfield, to a straight 442 with Adebayor. I think Adebayor would have relished a full 90 minutes last night, and his substitution, along with Theo, caused Moscow problems. I noted that RvP tried to take the ball round the keeper in a ridiculous piece of skill rather than square to Kolo. I was livid when I saw that. At best it showed indecision; at worst, the squandering of a golden opportunity due to vanity.

We seemed to pull ourselves back into it in the late second half and, perhaps, were worth a point by the end. Thierry's 'goal' was a goal, and I can see why he's so upset, the most upset I've seen him for a long time. Hopefully, he can use that anger positively in the return leg, instead of just moping about it and getting frustrated.

So, a loss is never palatable, but some defeats are, on balance, more acceptable than others. To go down one-nil in freezing Moscow after pulling out a reasonably battling performance is not the end of the world. Especially as we will beat Moscow and Hamburg at home in our next two CL matches. This should mean we'll have qualified before the tricky away match in Porto - whether as group winners or not, I'm not sure. The only real cause for concern was the effectiveness of Moscow's 3-5-2 formation in stifling our play; again, this is something we should overcome in the game at the Emirates.

I'm also slightly concerned that after yesterday's tough match, we've got another one on Sunday, away to Reading. Its good that we've got more recouperation time, but, I think Reading will take the game to us and I hope we have the strength not to sustain another defeat.

Tonight's games should be fascinating. I wish Peter Cech all the best after his awful, and I would say probably accidental, injury. His absence is a huge loss to the Chel$ea team: no Gallas and no Cech could expose defence frailities of the like we have barely seen under Mourinho, although Chel sea briefly showed how much they struggle without them in their defeat to Middlesborough earlier this season. I think Mourinho may play for a point and try to shield Hilario from too much responsibility [the headlines are already written for that guy]. I also have my suspicions that Bordeaux could cause Liverpool some grief tonight, with Gerrard and, perhaps more importantly, Sissoko both missing.



gazzap said...

basically if there was ever a game we could afford to lose and it not matter too much in the grand scheme of our season it was this one.
I would never accept a prem defeat or indeed a cup knockout defeat with such humility, but we live to fight another day with this format, so its just important that we learn more than anything.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I agree, this defeat is not that significant, we are still second, have two home games to come, and can get revenge in the next match and go top again.

What is worrying, is why Wenger plays Van Persie in a 4-5-1. It just doesn't work. Play him in a 4-4-2 or play another midfielder. Where is Flamini these days? He could have played in the middle with Gilberto and Cesc with Rosicky and Hleb on the flanks. I reckon Wenger is pissed with Flamini for saying he won't play left back.

Gilberto's passing was really bad and Clichy is going to make a real positive contribution to the team. Hoyte looks pretty competent at right back as well, has real recovery pace.