Sunday, September 16, 2007

That was more than just a derby win.

What a game yesterday. At the time I was forced to use a combination of streams, radio, BBC text and Chris Kamara to try and keep up with the action, but having watched the full game subsequently, it seems unlikely that there's going to be many more games this year with quite that many incidents.

Watching the game post-facto merely hammered home just how many potential turning points there were. If Berbatov had, as he perhaps should have, scored at 1-0 or 1-1 we would not be celebrating today. Only Clichy's body and an incredible recovery tackle by Kolo saved us on those two occasions. I would talk about the Darren Bent miss, but I'm still laughing.

The first half performance wasn't great, but wasn't completely abject. Bale, a player with considerable talent, scored a cheeky, if technically impressive, free-kick to give Spurs the lead. It's difficult to know where to apportion the blame. On the one hand, Almunia should have got down to save it; on the other, Hleb should have blocked the shot. Coupled with Almunia's rush of blood which led to the Berbatov chance at 1-0, I don't think it's harsh to say doubts remain about his big-game ability. But I am warming to him, especially when he showed the fire to stand up to Huddlestone.

The other player who disappointed was Diaby. Not only did he miss an absolute sitter - again - he looked somewhat lackadaisical at times. He couldn't deal with Chimbonda or Malbranque, which is a pretty powerful indictment of his performance on its own, but he doesn't always look like a player giving his all. It takes a lot for Arsene to haul a player off before the 70 minute mark, and that Diaby exited after 50 or so minute says a lot.

But what is most heartening about our current squad is their ability to play for the entire 90 minutes - to grind out wins or draws even if it takes until the last minute to do so.

No-one epitomises this never-say-die attitude more than Flamini. You can question his ability, although he actually passed the ball around and broke up play well yesterday, but his sheer drive and spirit is a joy to behold. Every team needs a Grimandi, as it were.

Adebayor similarly embodies this spirit. In truth, he missed a hatful of sitters yesterday, chances that often decide matches. But he never gave up, and yet again he came up with the goods in a big match. And as for his second: an early goal of the season contender, not just for the strike but for the flick. Joyful.

Yet we all know who the star man is: Cesc. At 20 years of age, he is dangerously close to becoming the complete midfielder. Last season I criticised his lack of goals, as many others did. So this season, patently, he's decided to start scoring, and start scoring when it really matters, when it's 1-1 at the Lane and pride and points are at stake. Trophy winning teams have players like Cesc at their heart; that's all I'm saying for now.

Kolo also deserves a mention for some truly heroic defending and leadership. Clichy was excellent, and Sagna must be in the running for the player to adapt most quickly to the Premiership and to the club. Gilberto did a job at centre-back, but we really need Gallas to return asap to look really secure in that area.

Last year, we came from a goal down at the Lane, before falling to a last-minute equaliser. This year, we won, and as I wrote a few weeks ago, the draws are turning into wins. So, yesterday wasn't just a lovely derby win, it was another sign that the current team has the ability to win trophies.

They no longer shirk from the fight; they're finding the last-minute winners; end-product is being produced. And the team have successfully overcome the first real test to their credential as title-contenders.

But the Premierhip is a marathon, albeit one with a pretty hefty pace. When injuries really start to kick in, perhaps then we'll know just how much this result really means.


Anonymous said...

Kinda unfair towards Diaby methinks, he is as lost on the wing as I am on a golfcourse. And Im pretty fucking lost out with the 'ol driver.

Anonymous said...

It's clear that Diaby isn't the finished product yet, and he needs to learn: when to dribble with the ball and when not to (i.e. a pass to another colleague is the better option); when to make a tackle for the ball and when to stay on his feet; when to slow down the tempo of the game and when to not slow down the momentum of an attack; when to give your all and track back when possession is lost; and finally to improve his shooting on goal.

We must bear in mind that he isn't helped by being played out of position on the left of midfield or in the "hole", on occasions.

Anonymous said...

Diaby needs time on the pitch to develop and improve. He's also a year behind in his development due to that horror tackle by Dan Smith. These factors should be taken into account when criticizing his performance.

Anonymous said...

"It's difficult to know where to apportion the blame."

No it's not. Just don't. Pretend it didn't happen and get on with it instead of looking to play the blame game. It's a totally pointless exercise. (If you must know, though, it was Gilberto for conceding the free >_>).

Anonymous said...

I think that the spuds were literally suprised that we shot from outside the box. I cannot imagine how good this team will be with yet another seasons experience. Arsenal will go from strenght to strenght, if we manage to keep hold of our key players.

Anonymous said...

I don't think enough credit has been given to the boys. For every chance the yids missed we missed one that was equal. The yids had one shot on goal in the first half and that was the bale free kick. Any home team who only has 1 shot on goal in the first half deserves nothing. And thats what the yids got.

The fact is we had more posession, more shots on goal and dictated the game from start to finish. The yids are not in our league full stop.

Not one of their starting eleven would get in our team, and that includes this BERBATOV guy, have you ever seen him score in a big game for the yids? Because i havn't. actually thats a lie i saw him score at the bridge in the fa cup last year then in the replay at the lane when terry was playing he went missing.


Anonymous said...

I think Arsenal played great football and that fact should not be lost. we deserve a lot of credit.
Diaby was again used in a position foreign to him. he was fresh though, maybe too fresh having not played more than a few minutes for many weeks. I dont think we can be in the slightest bit critical of him. he had a good game in a strange position. denilson looks more comfortable on the wing than Diaby but I think wenger realises Diaby needs to play games and he just cannot get into midfield with cesc there - and he wont pair them together. its a difficult one.

Almunia only made one error and that was rushing out to Berbatov with the chance he missed. strangely though, the fact he rushed out made Berb take a touch to the left which basically is what messed up his momentum and allowed Toure to get in a good position. without the rush out Berb could have gone straight for goal and had a straight forward one on one with almunia. yes a mistake but a blessing in disguise also.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading Bent say that we got mugged by Barca re Henry sale as the fee was the same as Spuds paid for Bent. When you're through on goal and you miss like that with no pressure whatsoever, its a miracle that I did not piss myself. As they say, do your talking on the pitch!

Anonymous said...

Surprisng anybody doesn't focus on our main problem; the lack of adequate backup for Toure and Gallas. Playing Gilberto in the back is a solution that will be punished more severly aginst more clinical strikers, let's not kid ourselves. Senderos has potential, sure, but is he really up to the task aginst the very best?
Wenger HAS to address this issue in january. On the good side; the team has develop a lot since last year, beautiful to watch!

Anonymous said...

The only player I would take from Spurs is Berbatov. He would be sensational at Arsenal, linking with Cesc and releasing pace.

Adebayor-often frustrates, but you have to love him. Cult hero if I have ever seen one. I read somewhere that Bobby Pires has the record for an Arsenal player with the most goals against Spurs-8. Ade has 5 in 4 agaisnt them. He is only 23 and will easily plunder double figures.

Slightly worried about RVP. He cant link play and often looks lost. However, he is a match winner.

Bring on Seville!

Anonymous said...

Diaby is good, hes just a year behind fab and the other kids because of his long injury last year.

Very happy that coles gone, now Clichy and Traore will develop well.

Almunia and Lehman together would make a good goalie but they both lack some qualities, hopefully, almunia being younger will work on fixing them.

I saw a great improvment in Adebayors passing, running foward, bring the ball down and wining the ball in the air. He has alot of potential but can still mess up in the worst of ways.

Fabregas is great but im not too happy with all the attention he is getting.

Arsenal has a long long year ahead, and lets just hope we get that little extra luck so we can stay on top.

Anonymous said...

i was just looking up the word lackadaisical on my mac safari dictionary n i laughed my ass off.. read it yourself:
"lackadaisical |ˌlakəˈdāzikəl|
lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy : a lackadaisical defense left the Spurs adrift in the second half."

haha... anyway yea lets hope the team wont evolve round cesc like we did around henry cos that wont work out too well... n senderos not good enough? he was good enough two years ago to get us into cl final, i dont see why he's not good enough now.

Goonerboy said...

lackadaisical is a top word. heh.