Monday, December 18, 2006

A disappointing weekend of sport shudders to a halt.

Firstly, the Portsmouth game, or, as it could be known, 'Jeremie Aliadiere's last game for Arsenal', at least in the Premiership. I didn't actually think he was that bad, especially as RvP showed no desire to work with him at all. But Arsene's decision to haul him off after 55 minutes is probably the end for old Jezzer.

In the first half, we were flat, insipid and uncreative. There was no movement or urgency; our defence was often shambolic. Portsmouth, inevitably, nicked a goal just before the end of the half and we probably deserved it. Two men almost came to blows in front of me as the teams walked off - one had booed and the other confronted him. It was that type of performance. To cap it all, I'd somehow conspired to pay £7.30 for a pint of lager and a rather average pie in the build up to the game. Not good.

Nothing really changed after break. Panic continued to ensue in defence, and with Portsmouth's chipped second goal, the writing seemed to be on the wall. It took Adebayor's arrival to inspire a comeback, and the big man scored a terrific goal and helped set up a second. Why, precisely, he was rested is a mystery to me. He's young and in form: don't play him in the Carling Cup if he needs a rest. It has to go down as a selection error by Arsene. Subsequently, Hleb, Walcott and RvP all had chances to win the game but spurned them. Watching Chelsea twice come from behind to win, away at Everton, painfully emphasised the gap between us and them.

A few positives can be gleaned from the game. Clichy seems to be improving; Gilberto continues to inspire; Adebayor is rapidly becoming a colossal, vital figure; we can fight-back. Maybe with Rosicky, Henry and Gallas we'll push onto win games like the one on Saturday; maybe not.

However causes for concern also continue to manifest themselves. Hleb is a constant source of invention, but noticeably slows play when he receives the ball. Walcott at times looked very much a young boy playing with men. Fabregas was effectively, and worryingly, marked out the game. Eboue is, I hate to say it, looking like he's not good enough defensively. Arsene didn't help matters by being consigned to the stands, a matter Goodplaya has thoughtfully analysed.

So, again another performance which inspires hope and anguish in almost equal measure. Is progress still being made?

The other disappointment this weekend occured at about 5am GMT on the other side of the world, as England's cricketers meekly handed back the Ashes. I could write a lengthy diatribe on this matter, but its bile would probably dissolve your screen. Let's hope to see an improvement, from both England and Arsenal, in a few day's time.


gazzap said...

cheer up, we have Song to come in tomorrow and save our season in the league cup. Ah.

I agree that the return of 5 key players will make a huge difference to us. by end of january we will literally be a different team. How come the bad players never get injured?!

Anonymous said...

A very good synopsis, I think.

The one thing that disappointed me more than the fact that we played the first 50 minutes with no guts, no fight, no effort and no determination was that, after finding the extra gears and pulling it back to 2-2, we then went back to sleep and carried on with the sideways passing, seemingly uninterested in winning the game. We had 30+ minutes to get the winner !

Arsene said afterwards that he recognised the lack of tempo as the problem; all he needs now is to find a solution. I may be wrong but that shouldn't be the hardest thing to find.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm Australian, so it's not all been a dissappointing weekend for me :)

Anonymous said...

I think Billy Gallas has the problem summed up very well. He said that the problem with a whole team of youngsters is that they are all too laid back. He also said that they lack the fighting spirit. I agree, which is why we really could do with some more experienced players in the squad. Currently, our most experienced players are Henry, Gallas, Lauren, Rosicky and Gilberto; four out of the five are out injured !!

Renoogami said...

Worrying thing is, we are 2 points behind last season at the same stage and I can't see teams around us being so generous in dropping points as they were last year. Is it just me, or does anyone else fear we are rapidly turning into a mid table side. I also fear we are suffering badly from only replacing one of the 5 key players in the last great team we had - Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires, Campbell and Cole. The other interesting thing is (Cole apart) they were all six foot plussers! Have we become too physically small?

gazzap said...

the double winning sides contained all either physical or tall players. no one was short and weak. I mean even our short players like Parlour, Lauren and Cole were tough. we had so many tall players like Keown, Sol, Vieira, Edu, Pires, Kanu and Bergkamp. now we have way too many short AND weak players like Walcott, hleb, cesc, clichy, flamini, RVP, aliadiere and even eboue, who given his size and speed I feel is a little weaker than you'd expect.

which players now are either tall or tough? we have Toure, Djourou, Gallas, Gilberto, freddie (but is injury prone instead) and Adebayor. only 3 of these were on the pitch when we condeded the 2 goals at the weekend. How many tall or tough players did pompey have in their side? 11.

Anonymous said...

Oh God. Just as we thought the negative reports were all over, along comes another one...with a whole bunch of matching comments. You and Goodplaya best mates now are you?

Anonymous said...

The height of the team! It was the height of the team all along to blame for our shortcomings and failure to produce positive results against tough, proud teams like Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea this season. Stupid height.