Friday, January 11, 2008

Arsenal scrape a draw; Diarra and Jens remain in limbo.

You have to start wondering what it’s going to take for the Spuds to beat us. The last few occasions we’ve played, they’ve had the chances and the momentum to win matches, yet they just can’t seem to go that extra step and actually get the result.

If I was one of their supporters, I’d be somehow between frustration and despair. It doesn’t help when their best player, Berbatov, does his best impression of s sulky Thierry Henry; moments of brilliance interspersed with a distinctly casual, couldn’t care less attitude, even if, of course, Thierry was better.

So we got away with it on Wednesday. Just as I was given a last minute reprieve due to the delayed kick off – don’t even start me on Transport ‘For’ London (they’re transport ‘for’ some fat cat's back pocket if they're transport for anything) – so Theo popped up at the last minute, scuffed his shot, and watched as the spuds actually hit the ball against him in order to make sure we got an equaliser.

The overall performance was poor. Djourou was abysmal, Senderos not much better, and their partnership was non-existent. Hoyte can’t be faulted for effort, but struggled at times, while Traore was not only put on his arse by lennon at least once, he also conjured up a gloriously inept freekick.

Theo made some nice runs, and at least showed the confidence to take on players, yet failed to release the ball early enough, as either a shot or pass, to be a real threat. Denilson was functionary without really answering the question about whether he can be a playmaking central-midfielder, while Gilberto defended well yet passed abysmally.

Diaby was infuriating. His persistent attempts to dribble past the entire Spuds team were almost entirely unsuccessful and led to us ceding possession in dangerous areas. For all that, he was still our best midfielder.

The only players to really cover themselves, individually, in any glory, were a generally solid Fabianski, a spiky and creative Bendtner, a livewire Eduardo, and Sagna, who surely earned himself our motm award with his running, tackling and all-round play.

Yet we still drew, and that’s the most important thing ultimately - going to the Lane, we still have a chance of getting a result. Whether the XI that went out on Wednesday are the one’s to pull it off remains to be seen. It would be disappointing to go out at this stage, especially to the spuds, as Arsene needs a trophy. The carling cup would be a nice hors d’oeuvre to greater things later in the season.

The major absentee from Wednesday’s match was Diarra, who seems to be getting sillier and sillier by the day. According to the latest reports, he dropped himself for the match, saying he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play, given the speculation surrounding him.

Now, Diarra will go to Euro 2008, regardless of whether he’s first XI with us by that point. The only question is whether, in the future, he will develop into a first XI player, and to my mind he probably will. He looks a cut above Denilson and Diaby, and, with Gilberto potentially leaving in the summer, it could turn into a scrap between him and Flamini for the 2nd central midfield spot. He could win, if he’s willing to work for it. If he’s not: cheerio.

Jens also now appears to be staying, after failing to agree personal terms with Dortmund. It’d be nice for him to stay, but I doubt whether he’ll accept being second string for the rest of the season. Arsene confirmed my earlier thoughts when he stated that he wouldn’t buy a new keeper if Jens leaves; Fabianski will become number two, with Mannone at three.

So, it’s on to Birmingham tomorrow. A game we should win, even if we only appear to have one fit centre-back at present…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, there is no such problem with Diarra, he thinks he is the best midfielder we have around, he has been here for something like 5 months, and he has the right to talk! if he wants to leave, let him leave, Wenger will always find a replacement, trust this Man and he will deliver, we will win the Premier League.