Monday, March 19, 2007

The false idols of Anfield further exposed.

Well, it's all getting a little depressing isn't it. A month ago we had cup ties galore to look forward to, including a cup final no less, and Thierry seemed to have regained form and fitness after a difficult few months.

Now look where we are: dumped out the cups, twenty points adrift in the league, and with a struggle for third, if not fourth place, on our hands. Where did it all go wrong?

Perhaps some answers can be found earlier in the season, in a moment of wonderful hope for the team's future. Namely the 6-3 victory at Anfield, where our young guns rightly earned themselves a page in our, and Liverpool's, history books.

Several myths have emanated from this moment, not least that Liverpool were supposedly playing their first team. (Whilst they had more first-teamers out than us, this was not a full strength Liverpool eleven by any means.)

Yet, and perhaps fatally for the second half of our season, two players had an absolute stormer that night: Messrs Aliadiere and Baptista.

Aliadiere not only scored but created goals with the nonchalance, ease and almost serene aura of a younger Thierry; the Beast justified his sobriquet with a double-brace, a game in which he perhaps should, incredibly, have had a double hat-trick.

At that moment, both players undoubtedly convinced Arsene that they could cut it in our first team. So rather than, say, give Aliadiere the chop in January and, perhaps, bring in a new striker, Jeremie stayed. We all seemed rather confident that we had five top-quality strikers.

What we actually had was a crocked Henry, a soon to be crocked RvP, an Adebayor who needs one of the first two next to him, and the two Anfield idols, neither of whom have really cut it since that night. Sure, we've had a few goals from Baps, and some verve from Aliadiere, but neither has really looked like a threat in front of goal.

And thus yesterday. Another game in which we've carved out chances, but had no-one to take them. Jeremie had more inexcusable misses; Baptista ran about a bit, without really looking like scoring.

Did they fool us on that night in Liverpool? Were we duped? They still have a few more games to convince us, but I would suggest that Aliadiere does not have what it takes, and its 30-70 whether Baps has it. A greater depth of quality is needed in our strikeforce and hopefully its in this area, as in a few others, that Arsene is thinking of bringing in a 'super-super' player this summer.


Anonymous said...

The thing is, alot of fans dont understand or can see the difference in intensity levels between carling/fa cup and Premiership. Remember we went and beat Everton in the Carling cup with our youngsters. In the prem, the tackles are fiercer, quicker and you need to take your chances. That is why Arsene sometimes doesnt throw the youngsters who excel in the cups. Its like the U21s and the full international team. A massive gap, a chasm even between the levels. That said, we really should have had a penalty when Walcott was hacked from behind but we used all our luck for the week against Villa for the Diaby goal.

Anonymous said...

Was Wenger supposed to guess that RvP was soon to be crocked? The way you write it seems he should have known.

How about crocked whilst scoring a brilliant goal against Man U.

Did Chelsea ease up in carling cup? No tackles fly in? Did Spurs go quietly?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, the owl of wisdom flies at twilight.

Goonerboy said...

No, but now he knows he should buy during the summer to ensure it doesn't happen again, and ship out at least Aliadiere, if not Baps as well.

And I worry that RvP may be injury prone, so we need greater quality in depth.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, I think this squad is capable of winning everything in sight. Lets be honest, we really should have beaten Chelsea, put Blackburn out and beaten PSV. We would have got Liverpool in the quaters!
Alot of you are saying, 'but we didnt'. But look how close we came. With one or two players, and a clean bill of health this squad is going places, fast. Arsene knows

Anonymous said...

'almost' winning means nothing. Not a jot. I'm sure spurs were delighted with 'almost' getting into the champions league. A quick glance around blogosphere makes one thing abundantly clear: the fans are tired of almost winning. If we fail to be competitive in the league next season yet again, fans will start voting with their feet. Everything arsene has worked for, the stadium, the youth setup etc will have been a failure. Personally i have no confidence that we have the players anywhere in the squad.

Anonymous said...

The players to score goals, that is. Not a single one of our strikers/midfielders bar RVP looks capable next season. We have lots of talented players, but a VERY flawed squad. We absolutely MUST Buy.

Anonymous said...

The 'False Idols of Anfield' as you so brilliantly describe them are the result of the subsequent media hysteria following the 3-6 victory.

We have two problems that need to be addressed:

1. The lack of goals from midfield.

Rosi, Hleb, Fabregas and Ljungberg have 3 league goals between them.

Lampard has 11 and Ballack has 5.

Cronaldo has 16, Scholes has 5, Giggs has 4, Park has 4 and Fletcher has 3.

2. Set-pieces; attacking and defending.

In our two league matches against Everton, we had 20 corners and scored from none. Everton had eight croners and scored twice.

As for Baptista and Aliadiere... they are a pantomime double act. Fatty Robinson has scored as many Premiership goals as the two of them put together. Once the season is over, I pray that we never see either of them in an Arsenal shirt ever again.

All I can say is thank God for the return of Adebayor. He may not be the most clincal striker in the world but he's a damn sight better than those two cloggers.

Anonymous said...

what sort of fans are you... obviously the ones that only support a team when they are winning. before Arsene , Arsenal was the most boring team to watch and non of you complaint! Long ball and stealing games at 1-0... then came Arsene and Arsenal has played the best foortbal in England for the last decade, beating teams regularly 4-0 or even 6-0. Best attack in the league year after year.... trophy cabinet laoded, a super stadium and now a team for the future. ManU didn't win a thing for two season and now they are up there... we are just so spoiled and want success now! just like a bunch of footballers wifes that are looking for quick bucks without effort. Ajax won everything in front of them with kids... but it took time. In a few years time , you will all be demanding a statue for Arsene because you would have been part of the magic that will be Arsenal. Being a fan is about seeing through the media bullshit and really knowing where you are and wher you are going. We need to work on a lot of things befre this team get there... but playing the way they did to the Carling Cup Final and the total footbal they can produce is no fluck. To see teams worth millions with seasoned proffesionals having as sole ambitions to not open up and steal a win against our kids are the signs that the league knows .... Arsene is building a Brazil 70 team or a Johan Cruiyff Ajax of the 70's.....Patience is a virtue my friends.....
And we keep on saying it .... ARSENE KNOWS...

devvil said...

Amen for "Anonymous". Arsene is building an empire, and empires take time. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. Once he'd achieved the unthinkable (the Invincibles season), something that hadn't been done in over a hundred years... and then seen the team starting to age and decline and become somewhat jaded the following season... he decided to be MORE ambitious. As the Boss has said, you always have to look up. He desired to break down his aging side and build with youth, and to build a team that can compete for MULTIPE Prem and CL titles year after year. This, in an environment where we would be outspent by Cheski and ManUre every year.

This meant we would sacrifice the Battle to Win the war. Give up a few titles and blood the youngsters.

Those who are swayed by the "here and now" media and Sky mentality, are getting frustrated. I would be lying if I didn't say disappointment didn't hit me at some heartbreaking losses too. But we have to keep our perspective, Gooners.

Most of the pieces are in place now. Except for the odd maestro we may add each summer, the team is what it will be for years to come. But his young geniuses need to learn some painful lessons (last minute losses, set piece covering, finishing their chances, etc.) and mature on their way to multiple titles and trophies.

The truth is, tho most people don't have the perspective to see it, that we are in the midst of the most bold, brash, and audacious team-building excersize any of us will ever see. Arsene aims to make us surpass the Total Football of the great Ajax and Brazilian teams, and we are very, very close to achieving it, if you look at our success in the Carling, the FA Youth Cup, and very nearly (ahead of schedule) the CL last year.

The Future is Bright, the Future is Arsenal.

The Saint said...

Let's face the reality folks, the stadium means that we cannot afford the Gaffer to be like Mourinho and buy success and so AW is the right man for this particular job which is to find gems and build a competitive team on a shoestring budget; very few managers are capable of this feat. What's been our undoing is not so much a lack of good signings and I personally won't be too upset if we don't sign anyone next season because of the already-mentioned stadium issue and also because we do have great talent at our disposal already. The problem lies in bad team selection for the games; AW has been at a loss at times this season but don't fret as this time around, he will have a proper preseason despite the UCL qualifying games to study and train what should be a fit and undistracted squad to discover what his best lineup is. I've sensed all this season that he still doesn't know what that is because of the World Cup and other distractions (no thanks to the whole Ashley Cole episode)impacting upon his preseason preparations. This time, he should be able to take a deep breath, forget the past and get on with the job of identifying all the talents at this disposal and making the tough but necessary decisions about who to play where and what his settled first team lineup should be. I also think he should let the first team concentrate solely on the EPL and UCL and let the reserves concentrate on the Carling and F.A. Cups. Let's face it, we have outgrown them and we have to look at the truly important championships; romance and history aside Arsenal have grown in stature and deserve to compete in the highest levels of competition. The EPL is important only because it is the ticket to get into the really important UCL competition. Look at the disdain other top clubs put on their domestic cups e.g. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich etc. If we want to compete and be the best, we have to have a different mindset. Let the Boltons and Watfords go for the domestic cups but let's focus on the EPL and UCL. Screw what the FA thinks about this because we already know from the way they treat the mediocre refs and lie and cover up their mistakes that they rarely think anyway so why be bothered about that? Remember we are Arsenal! The team others are too scared to play against even at home and resort to anti-football aka giving up and surrendering even before a ball is kicked!

Anonymous said...

Last season, we snuck into 4th. This season, we're comfortably 3rd. That's improvement. The rest will come in time.
The thing I'm most worried about is our injuries. It's not natural to have so many people out, for so long, all the time. Are we buying injury prone players, or is something wrong with our training regime?

Anonymous said...

Just sharing with every Arsenal fan I know...Saw in Holy Moly

He Shoots, He Scores!

A certain much-hated and in-no-way greedy footballer is in a (penalty) spot of bother with his bride of a few months.

The sportsman took advantage of his expanded pay packet by revealing his expanded packet to a well-known soccer groupie called Brooke.

The boy done well, slipped into the box, shot and scored. But in their haste, both had 'forgotten' to take precautions; so far too much hit the back of the net, meaning the chance for both teams to do battle again, in around nine months. At the Child Support Agency Arena or the Theatre of Screams.

The lady was ecstatic that her Machiavellian plot had produced such a result. The shamefaced, traitorous footballer was less delighted, especially after telling his wife that his most recent fixture was adamant about having the baby. Cue a phone call from wifey, trilling down the phone in her best singing voice that if she ever comes across Brooke she would "bash her head in".

Careful, Brooke, she's got previous!

Anonymous said...

If you are the sort of supporter who votes with his feet, then I suggest you go becuase we do not want you here. This team is going to be huge and is almost there.Our role as supporters is to back them through the bad times as well as the good. I suggest we start doing that....It really is about time we came up with some new Arsenal songs, stuff we can really identify with as supporters, stuff we can saty and sing even if we lose. Let the players know that we are there for them.

AS far as purchases are concerned - AW just needs a couple of keepers.

Goonerboy said...

All I'm saying with this article is that there are players in the squad who are not good enough to play for Arsenal, and who need to be replaced.

I'll stick by Arsenal whatever; it's just hard to take us playing with players who are obviously not good enough to win trophies for the club.

Anonymous said...

I think AW has just answered your concerns on, so let's get behind the team and start playing our part in its development.

Anonymous said...

A better dept in quality?
What nonsense, you think Ali or Baptista are not good enough to be 4th and 5th choice strikers?
Post like this just goes to show how lacking in in knowledge and basic intelligence most football fans and pundits lack.
Henry scored 17 goals in his first full league season, playing as the main striker with 31 90 minute appearances. What kind of record are you expecting from a 4th choice striker, playing with a 5th choice strike partner. With an unsettled midfield and defence?

Anonymous said...

Players not good enough? What qualification do you have to decide that?

arstech said...

Goonerboy, you are allowed to be frustrated but I agree with Arsene on this one.

It's frustrating not to win things this season but with all the injuries we've had, the inexperience, the shaky start to the season, it's okay. I can't really complain.

To be honest, after we got knocked out of the CL, my mind wondered aimlessly. I even tried to imagine Arsenal without Arsene. I couldn't bear the thought. Unthinkable, catastrophic, but most of all unwatchable. Moving on...

Can I go of-topic a little and bring up a question you raised in the previous post:

Gilberto playing in central defence... when Kolo and Djourou are in the squad?

I'd really like to hear more thoughts on this. It's a tough one but it's an interesting question. Surely we have learnt that Gilberto in midfield is just indispensable (remember his back knack?) -- I am not saying he hasn't been good as a CD, that's not in dispute. But, what does it do to our "i don't know what to call it." Cos, it's not really shape, is it. It's something though.

Goonerboy said...

Anon.8.50: I expect a better squad than we have now. If they're a striker and they can't score, and they're not creating, then they shouldn't be in the squad.

Next season we need Four strikers who can score when called upon. At the moment only RvP looks like a real out and out goal threat. Hopefully Thierry will get a few more next season, and Ade as well, but our fourth choice striker needs to chip in too - especially if our main goalscorer is as injury prone as RvP appears to be.

The article was just stating that the Anfield result may have fooled a lot of us - poss including Arsene - into thinking some of our squad members were better than they actually are. The consequence of this is having a toothless pair up fron. You can't blame Arsene for this as the Anfield performance was so convincing, but he NEEDS to sort it out in the summer.

Our real problems, of course, stem from the fact our midfield is devoid of goals. If we had more adventurous midfielders, I think Baps might pick up a few poachers goals.