Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Senderos's departure is no big loss, but we may have let him down.

I've put a photo up of Phil in the 04/05 kit because I feel that was his best time at the club.

After a rather unimpressive opening couple of games, Phil came in against Bayern Munich at Highbury and was absolutely superb. He was so good after this that he kept Sol Campbell out of the team for the remainder of the season, even keeping his place for the 2005 FA Cup final (some of you may remember this as the last time we won a trophy).

Phil repeated the trick in the 05/06 season. He initially looked horribly exposed against the likes of Drogba in the Prem, but in the Champions League he was part of a five man defence that set a Champions League record for the length of time without conceding a goal. One can only speculate what might have happened if he hadn't have picked up an injury weeks before the final that saw him ruled out.

At the beginning of the 06/07 season, there was a real buzz about Phil. He looked good in the world cup before picking up a nasty shoulder injury, and was handed the no.6 shirt in pre-season.

But then Gallas arrived. And with Gallas's arrival, Phil's Arsenal career stuttered and never really recovered.

Phil is clearly a confidence player. He needs a run of games in which he can build up his belief in his abilities, and acclimatise to the speed of the Premier League (something I don't believe he ever truly mastered). Throwing him in every now and again doesn't work for Phil, and at this level Wenger has to bear some of the responsibility for Phil's demise at the club.

Gallas's arrival turned him and Kolo into our first choice CBs. Consequently Phil never got a run of games after this, instead being intermittently thrown into the team with varying results.

This season he looked like he had begun to re-gain his form. With Kolo at the African Cup of Nations, Phil came into the team, got a run of games, and started imposing himself again.

But, as soon as Kolo comes back, Phil was dropped for the AC Milan first leg tie. An absolutely appalling decision by Wenger. If a player is playing well, play him; what message does it send out if some players are automatic selections? Anyway, Kolo picked up an injury early in the game, Phil came in, and his last decent moments in an Arsenal shirt occurred over the two legs with the rossoneri.

But then, the nadir. Phil's Arsenal career died in the Anfield cauldron, when he lost both Hypia and Torres before their respective goals. After the game, Phil burst into tears in the dressing room, and was given, essentially, compassionate leave by Wenger til the end of the season.

That was the final straw for Arsene - a combination of poor defending and mental weakness that he felt he could no longer continue to tolerate.

Yet one wonders if Arsene didn't help contribute to this situation in the first place. The state of defensive coaching under Arsene has always been under question. He inherited the back-five, bought one of the finest defenders (in Sol) after this, but when it comes to some of his own defensive creations, they've been decidedly hit and miss. Take Kolo Toure: a rock when with Sol, he's been curiously exposed since his departure.

And, perhaps more pertinenly, despite Arsene's protestations of not wanting to 'kill youngsters' by not buying too many older players, did he not do exactly this by buying Gallas?

As it is, Silvestre in for Senderos doesn't weaken the squad, whilst Djourou and Song both now look better long-term prospects than Phil. So, whilst, physically, we've lost a body in the squad, it's one I feel we can afford to leave given the decline in his form in recent seasons.

Phil will be a success at Milan. The slower Italian league will suit his style of play, and he'll receive incredible advice from the likes of Paolo Maldini. But, and remember this, even if he does well in Italy, this is the right decision for Phil and the club at this time.

Til later.


roy said...

hopefully he will come back a better player for his experience in Seria A & Maldini

Anonymous said...

actually i think arsenal fans have to look at themselves a lot more. when it comes to our players we seem to believe that our players are not good enough for us but players playing for other clubs are. take the continued vilification of adebayor ,ebue even flam and hleb b4 they left, this seems to translate into loss of confidence and form to be honest i would hate to play for arsenal considerring the kind of comments that our bloggs seem to provide now.there is even a site claiming that our early season lack of form is due to adebayor but i dont see manu fans blame their opening day draw on ronaldo.we are a very fragmented fanbase now and we need to unite behind the team

Anonymous said...

Not sure I agree that Kolo has been bad since Sol left. I think it's more his partner, Gallas, that makes him look bad. They're both the same type of defender - Kolo needs a 'rock' next to him - i.e. Phil/ Sol/ Adams.

Still waiting for another rabbit out of the hat from Wenger as there's no way we can compete with our present squad. Need a defensive midfielder and a centre-back.

Anonymous said...

We won't buy another CB now. Silvestre is it, and probably shows that Wenger was considering the sale of senderos for some time.

We desperately need a new CM, but I'm only 50/50 whether we'll get one. It's not beyond Arsene to suddenly declare 'the squad is complete'.

King Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

after playing with keown and sol ,kolo should have grown into a great defender ,instead it proves that he has gone backwards or is indeed in need of a great motivator next to him! we let phil down badly ,rio was older than phil when a bit of mark overmars pressure forced him to score an own goal worthy of lee dixon ! centre halfs only really become the man around age 25!arsenals phil was like englands tony adams!

King Eric said...

A diplomatic and reflective post gooner...

Senderos is a player that I have never entirely rated. Though it is quite sweet (!) that he wears his heart on his sleeve and genuinely cared about his club, I was always happy to see his name on the team sheet when United faced your lot. As with many defensive players, he will always be remembered for his mistakes as opposed to his consistent displays. I didn't realise that he was such a key part of your run to the Champions League final for instance - how pivotal he was is surely up for debate.

I think he perhaps to some extent shows that whilst Wenger does indeed know about youth, flair and attack minded players, he tends to strike it lucky where the defence is concerned. Sol aside, his most astute defensive signings are generally players like Sagna who are equally competent going forward.

Arsenal have long been prone to concede and that is to me where they fundamentally differ from United, Chelsea and (dare I say it) the scouse scourge. United's success these last two seasons has been built on the solid back 4. Whilst Evra is adept at going forward, he is first and foremost a quality defender. The other 3 are also solid (and almost always) well positioned ball winners.

In a league where losses play the most crucial role in the title race and where the 1-0 win is so important to deciding the fate of the title, a suspect back 4 with inadequate cover is the difference between champions and also-rans.

So whilst I don't think you will necessarily be any worse off for his departure, I think Arsenal will still be outsiders until the defensive frailties are properly addressed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we let him down. So many fans made a scapegoat of him. He is a good defender and IS good enough for us!

Anonymous said...

Great analysis of Phil's play Goonerboy. I hate to say it, but Im beginning to wonder what goes on in Wenger's mind these days. Firstly, he needs to swallow some humble pie and get it that extra body in midfield as soon as possible - something which we have all known about since the start of pre-season. Delaying it till the end of the transfer window might help to drive the price down, but it means that the player doesnt even get a pre-season with Arsenal - and you only have to look what happened to Baptista for the last time that occurred.

Secondly, to have a manure scum in FOR big Phil, when you take into consideration all that Goonerboy has said about him being a confidence player and still barely 23 and far from his defensive peak,is just too much. Already buying Silvestre didnt go well with me cos it meant Senderos would be pushed further down the order again. Worse, to REPLACE Senderos with Silvestre? Dont forget, this is a player who has been on the fringes of man yoo for a couple of seasons now - it's evident he's past his peak, and worse, he's injury prone. Wonderful. Not another one.

Sorry, but Silvestre just doesnt cut it for me - he's got a LOT to do to win over Arsenal fans.

Being used to Arsene's patient approach, I'm ready to wait till the last minute for the transfer that he has promised will come in at CM. Declaring that the squad is finished while having let Gilberto, Flamini (not replaced), Hleb (replaced by Nasri), Senderos (Not replaced - silvestre doesnt count as the giant Vidic-like stopper we need beside Kolo/Gallas) go is just NOT acceptable till the next January transfer window.

The club has reported profit over the last couple of years - there's no reason not to take out the chequebook and spend now, Arsene. You're running a football club, not some cost-saving charitable organisation. You already worked your magic last season to within four points of the title - show the rest of the league we mean business by just adding that final piece in the jigsaw.

Anonymous said...

I think certain sections of supporters have to look at themselves for their behaviour towards Senderos. I really feel sorry for him because I know he is a true gooner unlike the likes of Gallas.

Wenger has also let him down but continuously dropping him when he was in good form.

Anonymous said...

umm, we needed some experience so we signed Silverstre for almost nothing.

Fact is that with another CB we now have, Toure, Gallas, Senderos, Silverstre, Song and Djourou.

With all those centre defenders, when are they going to get to play? almost never.

Senderos will go to get more first team chances, this will also give other players like Song and Djourou more chances at Arsenal.

Wenger will analyse all the stats at the end of the season and if Senderos has lower stats than Djourou and Song and AC Milan want him then he will let him go, simple and a good bit of business.

By then Nordtveit should be ready to start competing for a place in the first team.

Should Senderos come back then please Wenger, never ever play him against Drogba, he'll get his *** kicked as usual.

Anonymous said...

Hill Wood will eat humble pie when the season ends.Fabregas is starting to get injury prone having played way to many games lately combined with the fact that we have no other reasonable alternative in midfield we will suffer big time.Wenger has got his fist so far up his own ass that he believes that every word that comes out off his own mouth is gold encrusted wisdom......in fact it is rubbish and he has been wrong on almost every account regarding his youngsters since that famous fa cup win in 2005.Remember that he was the only one who saw a brilliant arsenal playing the rest off us couldnt believe our luck against an emerging young Manure side.Since then Arsenal have been a train wreck waiting to happen or the rebirth off the Titanic ship Wreck.Our manager has talked so much bravado since then and been bullish all the way and never been so wrong in his assessment.Remember how many times he said give our youngsters time and this is a special side.......yes the worst Arsenal side since the early eighties.

thezha said...

This is truly the best gunner blog at the moment. Very thoughtful Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Maybe an example that an experienced, big name player is not always the answer?

Consolation: Alex Song looked good against Fulham, cruising around, intercepting and passing well. Complete change from 2 years ago on the same ground. Proof that Arsene's policy of development is working, even if we arent winning trophies.

It is too easy to criticise Wenger for one game but its difficult to question him over a whole season, any season:

97: 3rd, did well
98: Double
99: So close to another double, beaten by a team that had grat quality as well as outstanding luck.
00: UEFA Cup final, a European final is hard to argue with
01: So close in Champions League, robbed by the scousers
02: Double
03: 30m Ferdinand proved crucial compared to Pascal, still retained the cup
04: Invincible
05: Roman's roubles caught up with us but still beat United in Cup
06: Cant argue with nights like Madrid and Juve at Highbury. So close, again.
07: First season at new home, Carling Cup final with kids but too far from the title.
08: Combo of bad luck and terrible injuries cut us down.

Bit of a long one but season by season AW clearly has a plan and more often than not it culminates in a cup final or a title challenge. NO one wins cups every year, so what more can you possibly ask for competing against financial behemoths in United and Chelsea?

Anonymous said...

Arse&Nose - couldn't agree with you more