Sunday, December 09, 2007

How bad is two outta three? A Long away run comes to an end.

Well, thank God for that. Finally, finally, our tired boys can return to London after jet-setting round southern Spain, the Midlands, and, er, the North-East.

First of all, read my last article: forget Sevilla. About as meaningless a game as a meaningful game can be.

But the last three fixtures warrant attention; three fixtures on the road, which have given us 4 out of 9 points.

The best came first, and it was no surprise given the line up. Hleb and Flamini gave us impetus and creativity and we saw the best forty-five minutes of our season (except the goal) during the first half at Villa Park. The second half, where we doggedly held on to get the points, was also impressive, albeit in a grittier, backs to the wall, style. An excellent three points, all in all.

But exit Hleb; exit Flamini. And on to St James.

Tyneside has rarely, aside from Dennis's lovely flick, been a great hunting ground for us in recent years, and even Adebayor's superb goal failed to give us maximum points. This was possibly due to us being unable to muster any sort of decisive attacking movement for most of the game after our early bang. If anything, we were probably lucky to escape with a point.

Finally, today, one of the worst league performances we've seen for a while - definitely the worst we've seen this season. The back four weren't too awful, aside from Kolo's continual tendency to pump futile long-balls up the pitch, but the rest of the team was bloody abysmal.

Adebayor continues to be an enigma. When a player scores twice in three games and still warrants criticism, something has to be amiss, and in Ade's case it was his complete lack of contribution to the wider team effort. The 'isolated up front' excuse only goes so far. If he was winning balls in the air yet has no one to play them to, I'd be more forgiving. But when a player wins nothing in the air, aside from, mysteriously, headers on goal, something is clearly amiss. Despite his goals, questions about his overall game should be asked.

As should they for our other goalscorer, Tomas Rosicky. Despite his goal today, about as meaningless a goal as they come in any case, he contributed little to the team. In the absence of Hleb and Fab, Rosicky should have stepped up and become the team's creative element. That he did not, and has not in the last few games, has surely shown him to be little more than a link man, albeit an effective one, in the Hleb-Fab-Flam midfield.

The rest of the midfield was similarly poor. Eboue should have been sent off in the first half after petulantly slapping an opponent; Gilberto showed why he's fallen so far behind in the pecking order; Diarra, whilst by no means awful, is not creative enough.

Eduardo, surprisingly, was hauled off at half-time. For a 'poacher' he's playing too deep at the moment, and with Adebayor not winning any ball for him, his ostensibly poor performances are unsurprising. I still think he will get better.

Things improved after Theo and Bendtner's introduction, but we were lacklustre, both in commitment and ability, and Boro were well-worth the three points.

So, a blip or the beginning of something worse? We had to, realistically, lose at some point in the league this year, but it's disappointing that we capitulated so meekly. After three games away from home, four points is by no means a disaster. But questions of whether our squad - not our first eleven - is strong enough to win the league should surely be raised after today's surrender.


Anonymous said...

Arsenal is not good enough this year. Stubborn Wenger need to buy a few players in January. I dont believe Ade, Almunia and Gilberto are good enough. I hate to think what happens when Toure, Gallas or Clichy get injured. The squad lacks experience. The belief and spirit in the team have been dented badly with 2 losses in as many weeks.

Anonymous said...

All Ade needs is to massively improve his touch and awareness of players and he will become a lengend by the end of the seasonbring on chelsea and Spuds

Anonymous said...

Arsenal fan for 40 years.

What i cannot understand right now is how someone so good at what he does, ie Ms Wenger, cannot see that Eduardo is a passenger, Gilberto doesn’t have a ticket, Senderos got lost on the way and Rosiky is essentially being impersonated by someone half as good at football as he was.

Diarra I think is a good player but when you have a partner in CM that cant pass, tackle or defend properly, your not going to fare too well. Gilberto. What a wanker.

Gilberto must go. Eduardo should be dropped until he shows he can do something for more than occasionally shoot in the first 5 minutes.

Adebeyor needs to remember what makes him a useful part of this team and stop believing his own hype.

Eboue should never play again for Arsenal, he is one of those cheating types we all detest. I find him embarrassing. His football has been weak recently.Maybe he is only useful as defensive cover but his attitude sucks.

I missed the game due to oversleeping after watching Hatton Mayweather, and now having thought that at least I would see us start to fire again today against a poor Boro side, we put out the same singularly unimpressive team and formation, and I am left feeling completely pissed off to see how we succumbed to opposition, who were getting demolished quite easily by everyone else! Then we come along and make them look good.

Couldn’t figure it out until after Wednesdays shocker, its simple. Every piss poor performance that I can recall this season has contained one maybe two lightweights. Gilberto definately and Eduardo possibly more than a few times. Its like we are playing with not just 9 men but actually when Gilberto constantly gives the ball away, its 12 vs 9, cos Eduardo is almost invisible as well and no use in defence as we saw against Newcastle for their goal.

So in summation this is what I believe. Until players like Gilberto, Senderos and Eboue are not seen anymore - i think Eduardo MAY prove to be a good player sometime - dont expect to see much of our quality flowing play if all 3 of them are on the pitch, cos when some of our lemons are in the team, there is always a self-inflicted disaster awaiting to happen.

Also Senderos started this terrible run of poor performances when he made that standard Senderos error against Seville. The guy is simply Igor Stepanovs after some cosmetic surgery. Get fucking rid of them FFS.

Jeff said...

Can't argue with that.

Anonymous said...

I think I've realized a few things from yesterday's game:

1)Firstly, quite obviously, we are in woeful form.
2)Almunia isn't a no.1 goalkeeper..Lehmann must be brought back...or someone else should be bought.
3)Eboue should seriously be reprimanded or released from the club for his terrible on-pitch behaviour. It does only harm to club's image on the whole.
4)Certain members of our team have taken their places for granted and are not giving their 100% for the past few weeks.
5)Wenger is too rigid with his team selection. He will choose some players no matter what kind of form they are in.
6)Theo n Bendtner really need to be started more. They always look better than the one they get substituted in for.

We need to take a serious look at ourselves. Our last decent performance was against Reading. Apart from that, against ManU,Sevilla,Wigan,Villa,Newcastle and Boro, we've been sub standard...we got away with it until yesterday. We need to start playing like table toppers again else a 3rd place is what we could achieve at best.

Anonymous said...

I think should buy one 1st class goalie in the January Transfer window. Give Gilberto a chance(I think he still can pick up his form). Try a new formation like 4-1-3-2. Put Denilson in. Play Bendtner instead of Adebayor if he keeps playing his lone striker reasoning. Eduardo can play better if he's more upfront. I think should play the worst possible lineup (but not till the point where we lose) for the Bhucarest match and save all the strength for the Chelsea match. I got the feeling that Chelsea will be beaten in stoppage time if the energy that could be used against Bhucarest is saved for the Chelsea match. Just so long as there is no more than 1 defeat happening consecutively, I think there won't be a crisis. I think the the EPL title race is still wide open due to the points dropped and it will be hard to say the standing after 38 matches at this point in time. However, I'm predicting that the worst position will be 3rd and if the performance continues at this rate, no matter what teams in the second round of UCL will face us, we will be the ones in trouble.