Sunday, August 03, 2008

Wilshere the talk of the tournament, but goals still seem to be a problem.

All in all, Arsenal outperformed both Juventus and Madrid in our two Emirates Cup matches. The difference in each game was merely a goal: Juve got a dodgy one in the first, and we got a pretty soft penalty in the second.

We played with pace and fluency, but still looked a little lost when we get to the box. At least twice in the game today, someone should have just flown in and smashed a shot on goal. As it was, we over elaborated and lost possession. You can't score if you don't shoot, I still don't think this message is fully being hammered home.

However, maybe it's just preseason rustiness at this point. Certainly we didn't seem afraid to shoot earlier in the week against Stuttgart, with Vela, Bendtner and Walcott all looking especially dangerous.

Today, Ade looked the most likely of our players to score in open play, narrowly rolling the ball past the post after a wonderful bit of skill took him past several Real players. His celebration on scoring the penalty - kissing the badge - was every bit as galling as his statement earlier in the week that he had never asked or thought about moving from Arsenal.

It insults the intelligence of most Arsenal fans for him to say that but, as things stand, we won't find a replacement for him easily, and he does still seem to be our most potent threat up-front. It may have to be a case of forgiven, but not forgotten.

But the talk of the tournament, if not the entire pre-season thusfar, has been young Jack Wilshere. Just 16, he's done enough in the last few games to bring himself into contention for the coming season. Indeed, it was telling today that those players we thought were going to be the next stars to come out of the academy - Randall, Lansbury, Bazarite, even Gibbs - were left on the bench, if they even made it there.

Wilshere simply looks a cut above the other youth prospects I've seen. He has no fear when given the ball, and actively puts himself into positions to get it. He has a strength that belies his shorter stature, and also the requisite technical ability and all-round skill to fit into a Wenger team. Most importantly, for me, is he looks like a player who can make things happen. He must be one of the first names on the Carling Cup squad list already, and I would not at all be surprised to see him involved in the first team, if only as sub this season.

Elsewhere, Diaby seems to flit between looking impressive and a liability and Denilson still seems a bit unsure of his role in midfield. It isn't beyond the realms of possiblity that Diaby starts the first game of the season next to Cesc in centre-mid, but I still think an experienced defensive midfielder is a necessary signing.

Oh, and a new goalkeeper.

However, the team really doesn't look too bad at the moment. One more decent signing and maybe we will surprise one or two people this year. Also, I have to say, the new home kit looks alright in the flesh, and the new away kit is excellent. I may have to buy two shirts in one year for the first time for a long time.

Next up is Amsterdam, and hopefully a few more clues to how the coming season might unfold.


Anonymous said...

I think we might be drooling over the start of the season right now if Cesc had played a major role in the Emirates tournament.

The maestro sets up one easy goal per game, and we would have gotten some tap-ins or rebounds instead of tough opportunities after hard build-up work.

There is an ocean of difference between Cesc and Diaby, who I'm finally ready to concede is NOT the next PV4 but merely a squad player good enough to hang around the edge of a good team but definitely not gifted enough to impact it.

Hate to say it, but Diaby doesn't have a physical liability -- he just doesn't see openings, can't make quick decisions, won't ancticipate runs.

And he's not technically or mentally suited to the DM role. If the season started tomorrow and we don't buy anyone, I believe Denilson will be the holding midfielder -- and he looked pretty decent against Juve and Madrid. Most particularly, he wasn't afraid to crunch somebody in possession. And that's a big part of the job at DM.

Yes, I'd love to get a savvy veteran partner for Cesc, but this is a terrific team just as it is -- and that's missing Rosicky, Eduardo, Toure and Song.

Finally, I'll be the one millionth person to say it: Wilshere is the real thing. No question. Looks like he's been skinning Real Madrid fullbacks all his life.

When Cesc came into the team at 16 he made my jaw drop with his poise and impact on the game. I never thought I'd see another one -- but I have, and he could be Cesc's sidekick for a long time.

I was thrilled with the Emirates tournament overall, as a building block for the season.

We're going to have an exciting year and, say what you want about bad advice or silly statements, Ade is still the nuts on the field. The lad is a damn handful and was unlucky not to have had a hat trick. Plus, he worked hard tracking back.

Hate to say it, but he's worth the money. An off-beat lad, but not a bad one -- and a hell of a player.

Anonymous said...

Where abouts in California are you Steve?

Anonymous said...

I was really upset seeing the way Diaby played. To me Gibbs would be a better option ahead of him. He was a liability the whole match.

Anonymous said...

sell ade the headless chicken

Anonymous said...

hang on, this was Diaby's first start compared with Denilson's 7th. Den looked very dodgy in his first 4 appearances but finally looked the real deal today. Players need time in preseason to show their true selves. Ramsey is also looking right up there and ready to play. I dont care that he is 17 because he's good enough.
Wilshere will still be behind several other players but wenger is trying to develop him as quickly as possible. so he wont play a huge part of our season but in certainly in the pecking order and can only move upwards. Good game today.

Anonymous said...

Agree Gazzap - Diaby is still finding his feet so he should be given some more time before he is judged as not worthy of a start in midfield. Denilson was excellent again today and I could really see him starting alongside Cesc against WBA.

Anonymous said...

Wilshire looked incredible... sample is too small, but based on this weekend's display he is ready to be a super sub this year. Theo is going to step up and hold down a starting spot, with Nasri locking down the left before Rosicky gets fit enough to win it back. We'll end up with Denilson partnering Cescy... there's a reason Wenger has played him so much this pre-season. Diaby is not a DM... By next season, Ramsey will be the first central midfield sub. Wenger is not going to sign a starting DM... you wouldn't wait this long in the silly season to do that.

Just my humble,

"Berkeley" Charlie

ZafarZZ said...

seem like wilshere iss too low gravity put matured passer.. hopefully he will grow up n improve