Sunday, December 03, 2006

The importance of scoring first; the Thierry 'situation', or lack thereof.

A great, great win yesterday; one the club badly needed after a depressing succession of defeats.
The match hammered home the importance of getting the first goal to our style of play. Teams play cagily even at 0-0 when they're at the Emirates, but if we keep on gifting opponents a head-start it allows them to play even more defensively, making our task even harder. Indeed, Sp*rs should have gone one up yesterday. Malbranque's chance in the 11th minute was their 'welcome to Ashburton, have the first goal on us' opportunity and they should have scored. When they missed, I sensed things might go our way afterwards.

There was an element of luck in all three of our goals, but our victory was very much deserved. Frankly, we played Sp*rs off the park, and made them look average. It was great to see such a battling, yet skilful performance, one we need to see more often this season. The only real negatives to be drawn from the game were the injuries to Rosicky and RvP, Rosicky probably now out for the Porto game as a consequence. I thought he struggled a bit during the game, and faffed around on the ball a bit too much. I was disappointed with Eboue's theatrics, which are endearing him to no-one. Also, I thought Arsene could have used his subs a little earlier: if you're coasting at 3-0, why not give Theo 20 minutes instead of 5?

Aside from these relatively forced whinges, the rest of the team was outstanding. Jens spilled the ball when he perhaps should have caught it, but was solid otherwise. It was quite amusing to see Kolo berate him for his mistake as well. Kolo and Djourou were rock solid, and Kolo seemed to be everywhere, putting several important challenges in. For me, Djourou should now be third choice centre-back. He looks a lot more composed at the back than Senderos and more comfortable on the ball. Clichy put in a good performance as well, largely nullifying Sp*rs' main threat - Aaron lennon - which is no mean feat, and getting forward impressively.

In midfield, Freddie put in his best performance for a long time. He battled and tackled well - which is what we can still expect from him - but it was nice to see him actually beat his marker a few times. He looked a threat, but we can still improve on him. Gilberto and Fabregas were outstanding, in markedly different ways : Gilberto broke up any sp*rs possession superbly; Fabregas distributed it in a consistently threatening manner. It was great to see Gilbs dispatch the two penalties with such aplomb, and he really rose to his role as captain. Fab was so dominant in midfield that he basically dictated the game. Indeed, the only means by which the 'Zokora is the new Vieira' comparison was valid, was by the way Fab completely took him out the game - much like when Paddy came over with Juve.

RvP had a great game, playing intelligently and unselfishly. It's been great to see him steadily improve over the last few weeks: I always felt he had the talent to be a great player, but its nice to see him thinking a bit more about his team-play. I do hope he didn't handle on purpose, however, because that's not how I want to see Arsenal players behave.

But, my man of the match has to be the Togolese goal-machine that is Manu Adebayor. Silencing, yet again, his myriad critics, the big man put in a colossal display, not just finishing his chance superbly, but leading the line in a wonderfully authoritative manner. Some people have forgotten that Manu is only 21, and I think over the course of the next two years he could develop into a truly potent centre-forward. Now, if he could just replicate this form against some of the lesser teams...

The atmosphere inside the stadium was also wonderful. Really loud, constant singing, and a real sense of jubilation and pride. People have complained about the lack of atmosphere in the Emirates, but we showed what type of atmosphere can be produced in the ground - an atmosphere which I'm sure influenced the result. We need to try and re-create that atmosphere more often, just like the team needs to re-produce that type of performance on a more regular basis if we want to take anything from this season.

Finally, a word on the Thierry 'situation'. For a man supposedly suffering from a rift with the club, he did a wonderful job of 'hiding' it. He was in the tunnel before the game, pumping up the players; Adebayor, in a touching moment, ran to acknowledge him after his goal; he celebrated with the team on the field after the game. There may well have been an argument in training, but I hope there was - it shows Thierry's desire and passion for our club. He's frustrated because he knows just what the Arsenal-Spurs game means to Arsenal fans. I think he was also frustrated because he realises that trying to plough on and play with an injury has not been a great idea. I expect he'll miss the Chelsea game to try and rest up properly. The journalists who have hyped up the 'rift' are the same ones who confidently predicted TH's departure to Barca throughout all of last season. They're probably still smarting from that, or they've realised what great copy Thierry is - either way, they're peddling a misleading story.

I expect Baptista to come in for Tomas on Wednesday, a game that's really important to the immediate future of the club. It's not a '£40 million' game, but exiting at this stage would be a real blow after all our progress in the competition this year. I'm confident we can get a result out there.

Til later. Gb.


Anonymous said...

Good article but you should have drawn reference to the change back to a 4-4-2 system which was a big factor in our performance yesterday. I hope hleb replaces rosicky(if he is unfit) wed nite so that we stick to the 4-4-2 formation and give rvp a chance to play up front when his capt isn't around to berate him every 5 minutes. We are now seeing henry trying to do to van persie what he did to reyes for over 12months - bollock him endlessly until his confidence is shot to pieces. If you think there is no problem with henry then you are 1 of an ever decreasing minority amongst arsenal fans. His attitude and effort this season has been a disgrace and its no coincidence that our best 2 performances this season have been without him (manure away & sp*rs at home). I believe that the other players work harder both individually and as a unit when th is absent and if arsenal fans care to think back they may remember a similar scenario arising when Ian wright was in our team. I've heard it disputed before that we are a 1 man team but clearly henry thinks we shud be built 100% around him. If he now decides to knuckle down and return to the form of 2 r 3 seasons ago then we will all be delighted but if his attitude and form doesn't improve then I for one will be wanting him out.


Anonymous said...

I thought TH could suffer a serious injury soon if Wenger had not taken his present stance. Very smart Le Boss.

Augie, I think you r over-reacting. He is no way near his top form and he has managed 7 goals. Talking about TH like this is stupid.

I hope he goes in and does whatever fitness work he needs to do. We need him back in Jan in full fitness. Diaby and Lauren will be returning then too. In the absence of further injuries I think we'll see a different Arsenal in the second half of the season.
Good article!
I think Walcott may start in Portugal. They don't know a lot about him over there and it would be a good way to sting them. Him starting at Porto may be why he only played for 5 min.
He won't start at Chelsea so I can predict him starting against Porto.

Anonymous said...

Good for you guys, you managed to keep pace with Reading :p

Anonymous said...

I have had a look at your blog and found it a good read, cleverly thought out and often with points well worth thinking about.

Credit should be given to Jol for not trying to blame the ref for their bad performance but I disagree with you on Van Persie. He is a form player and right now he is off form, his general play is inconsistent. Play 4-5-1 or use another striker.

Anonymous said...

Dong Zhuo,

You don't really know much about football do you?

Anonymous said...

You got that idea because?

Anonymous said...

Dear Dong Zhou,

Check RVp'S goals scored. Just think a little about the way he plays. Look at the runs and passes he makes. Ask yourself what do I mean when I say his "general play is inconsistent"
Then you can answer your own question!

Anonymous said...

So he can score wonderful goals and is a useful free kick option even when off form, that is indeed true. When on form, he can do a lot more but right now, he can't pass the ball six yards, twice this season has handballed and can miss some great chances.

Unless we just want to rely on free kicks and 30 yarders, he should be dropped till he is back to near his best at which point he will be an asset again.

Anonymous said...

AW says the gunners are not a one man team.However when YOU see previous games it seems titi is the only scorer.
I've nothing against him. Who can forget that he single handeDLY destroyed Inter Milan and what abt the one when he scored against Pool
to win the championship for us.
But then no player is bigger thanthe club. It wouldn't surprise me if Arsenal were to sell him priceless as he maybe.

Anonymous said...

Dong Zhuo,

Seems to me that you have misssed an awful lot of RvPs game. Watch the videos again before you come out with ridiculous statements about not being able to pass six yards. Watch the crosses, watch the through balls. Watch the tracking back, watch the positioning at away corners, watch the talking to other players, watch the interplay with Theo when they play together, watch the running off the ball, watch the raking 30 yard passes to TH, watch the physical aspects, the competing with opposition defenders, the protection of the left back the filling in for the left back. You ignore all of this because you saw his hand touch a ball, a hand which belonged to an arm which was being held by an opposition player. The other occasion was a joke, a laugh, a bit dangerous, a bit contraversial.

A superb player and a superb team player - with the ability to learn. And you can't see it can you?

btw I don't give tuppence how the goals go in and at this point in time I|am surprised you do.

Anonymous said...

Where did I say he was a poor player? I said he was off form, you know, not playing at his best. When played in midfield, we have tons of players that provide that, up front can you think of a forward that doesn't track back? He works hard but, first half against Spurs aside, he hasn't been consistently good this season.

I do care if we cheat our way to victory, it would make us as bad as Chelski or Spurs, not the team that offered a replay to the Blades. We have been robbed by referees many times but better to play with class then to punch the ball over Reina and score.

Anonymous said...

Are yoy serious? Cheating??? Oh dear oh dear!

Goonerboy said...

If he did deliberately handle the ball just before the second penalty, that is cheating. I was appalled with his deliberate handball against Liverpool. It's a part of his game that he needs to cut out, because it could taint future victories.

Anonymous said...

And I am appalled by your attitude and think you need to get a sense of perspective, and a sense of humour.

And the real point is he did not handle the ball deliberately on Saturday, if you have ever played football you will realise that it does not work that way. Meanwhile I should stick to cricket - not the ball-tampering, sledging, drug-taking version of course..the other cricket.

Anonymous said...

I think the Spurs handball was an accident and could easily have bounced of Jenas's hand but he has got to make sure it doesn't happen often, keep his hands down when possible. Too easy to get a reputation, for example Pires dived two or three times for Arsenal but got a reputation as a diver.

I play as a defender, I know not to put my arms up if I can help it.

Anonymous said...

OK. Let's agree that it was an accident, and most importantly lets agree that he is a great player and becoming more and more effective and important to the team. And here's the best bit..he is an Arsenal player in all respects, with the patronage of DB, Marco VB, Johann Cruyff, and Arsene Wenger...oh and God knows how many Arsenal fans.No better list of referees on your CV than that.

Graham Clark said...

haha when RVP handballed it i laughed out loud, pretty cheeky really, the ref cought him and will if he does it again

anyways, what do you guys think of RVP and Ade running around after their defence when they have the ball? seems to be working well when they do. I think 1 reason TH was being bad to RVP is bcus he was tired, and mad at himself, and expecting more consitancy from RVP, yes he usually plays great, but at times he just sseems out of the game. I think perhaps after this rest TH might act differently to working with RVP.

I must agree with what you said about Walcot, AW seems to have something against subbing until late *cough* Kanu *cough*