Thursday, October 30, 2008

Immaturity, bad substitutions and embarassement: Wenger doesn't have a league-winning squad.

I can't remember exactly who it was, but for argument's sake let's say its Cesc, as I'm pretty sure it was him.

You're 4-3 up against your biggest rivals, who've just pulled a goal back to bring themselves back into contention with about a minute or so to go. You have the ball near the half-way line. Do you

a) play a short pass to a team mate to maintain possession.

b) put your head down and try and run toward the corner flag.

c) try an ambitious cross-field pass to a player who's won bugger all in the air all night, which has a high chance of being intercepted, and which will lose your team possession, even though you only have to maintain it for about 90 more seconds.

We all know what the answer is. And for all Arsene's talk about how we were 'too negative' at 4-2, and should have pushed on for the 5th goal, I'd say exactly the opposite. We were immature, again. We couldn't professionally close-out a game we were, ostensibly, comfortably leading, again. We started celebrating before the final whistle, again.

When we threw that lead away against Liverpool, you thought some of the players might have realised that it's not over til the final whistle. Yet we had RvP doing party tricks with twenty minutes to go, and Alex Song coming on with a huge sloppy grin across his face. We had Cesc push Sagna away when he came over to try and keep the ball penned into the corner flag through a short-corner.

And we had the same disruptive substitutions. Maybe the reason for our negativety, Arsene, was that you took three attacking players on, and put 2, if not 3, mainly defensive players on.

Why not replace Ade, who'd done bugger all apart from score, with Bendtner, a player who could hold up play and keep the ball in the opposition half. Why not unleash Vela against tired Spud legs?

Instead, we had the chuckle brothers - Diaby and Eboue - come on, who didn't even seem to know where they were meant to be playing. And Song, who usually takes a while to get into the match, again shoved into an unfamiliar position.

Just like Birmingham away last season, we put on the wrong players, started to invite pressure on ourselves, and lost control of a game we were cruising. What does Theo have to do to finish 90 minutes?

Some of this shows the problems in the squad - we have too many journeymen players who can play anywhere without playing well. Eboue, after a brief moment of starting to look good at the start of the season, is back to his old tricks, strolling round the park like he doesn't have a care in the world. No-one knows where to play Diaby, and Song is a CB or Defensive CM, nothing else.

But there are greater problems with the squad. Even if Denilson played well yesterday, him and Cesc don't work as a partnership. He's not defensive enough, nor all-action enough. With Flamini playing yesterday, we would have walked the game. It's not a coincidence that Arsenal have started to conceded so many long-range shots, or goals resulting from them, this season, when we have no-one closing down the space between defence and attack. Sort it out Arsene - even you should know that if you lose three defensive midfielders in a season, and replace them with kids, it won't work.

So we have a hole at the heart of the team; and we also have instability at the back.

Almunia has done well this season, but should never have let in the first, and made a complete hash of the second. Clichy, outstanding all season, also had a 'Birmingham moment'. Let's hope he's not making a habit of them. Finally, do we have any working centre-back combinations? I can't think of any.

So, it's as you were. The game confirmed to me that we have players who need to be told to stop being so cocky - at least until they win something. That we have a team that can blow a lead against almost any team. That we can concede goals as easily as we can score them. That our goalkeeper isn't awful, but isn't as good as he should be. And that the failure to adequately recruit in central midfield will cost us the league this season.

This year will be about a cup run, if it's about anything. Last night made clear that inconsistent, immature, arrogant teams don't win league trophies.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bentley's rat grin even surpasses savage's for creating an instant feeling of nausea. Thank god he left Arsenal and went to a team that represents peasantry in all it's stinking, putrid forms.

Anonymous said...

your a HUGE cunt

Anonymous said...

Hi this is Arsene Wenga.

I have taken note of your ideas for Arsenal as a team. Possibly.. I will think about buying a new centre midfielder with maturity.. but then again that would be CRAZY with all the young talent that we have in the squad to go out and spend. The team as a whole will mature throughout the season. And I will prove to you that in our next game against Stoke, that we do not need to spend. I have been condsidering selling Eboue but there have been no offers so far.

LOL

Thats pretty much what arsene would say back to you. sad isnt it :*(. Sme of what your saying is so true though.

Anax said...

Without doubt AW is a superb manager but he has two critical weaknesses choice and timing of substitutions and team selection.
I can never forget the day he brought on Cygan to shore up a lead late in a match and all it did was send the wrong message to the team who fell into a state of panic and allowed the other team the ascendency. Hiddink and Mourinho do the opposite. Vela and Walcott wold play havoc with their defences stopping any teams late charge.
As for selections you are right. We are just a squad of midfielders. Why play Gallas at all? Why play Silvestre at CB? Can Clichy and Sagna cross the ball like the Neville brothers? Who would be attacking them anyway? You are right. As much as I love Denilson the combination with Fab does not work. They shadow each other rather than compliment the team. Who closed down Modric in the last minutes. AW must get the front triangle right. The team simply did not work.

My team wold have been. Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, (Traore); Walcott, Song, Fab, Vela; Diaby; Adebayor.

Anonymous said...

Bang on
I could'nt of put it better myself except you forgot that we (Arsenal) have a great team going foreward and can pass the ball better than ANYONE however tthe defence needs sorting badly and the attitude of SONG and DIABY was poor
Oh and lets not forget that where we really went wrong was
1 Even i knew Bently had a huge point to proove and would be a key player for them so why wasn't he put in someones pocket?
2 given that Arsen knows that attack is the best form of defence why the fxxk did he take off our two best strikers of that game and then winge that we didn't take advantage after we were 4:2 up
it made mr Wenger look a real ARSE
still we live and hopefully they will learn!!!

Anonymous said...

And another thing......
The good news if any is that the SPUDS also feel like it was 2 points lost and only one point won so it seems we are not all that dfferent to them Is our glass half empty or half full???
Afterall we did score FOUR in exceptional curcomstances of spud euphoric rebound
Still we will all laugh if the squad learn to concentrate to the end and grip the game and strangle it to death in future
I hope Arsen has learnt a valuble lesson in attack being best form of defence

Anonymous said...

Obviously a massively galling game and result - just an incredible lack of on-field intelligence from a number of players in the last 10 minutes. Literally stunning....also a demonstration that too many of our squad players don't have a clearly enough defined postion / role within the squad, and some of them lack the temprament for a top team.

Almunia - 5 - He's been very solid for the most part this season, but still doesn't dominate his box like a top keeper and after Bentley's goal seemed shakey last night. On the whole though he knows his role, adapts to the tactical changes well and has improved sufficiently and quickly enough to be stuck with at this stage. Still will always be a bit of a John Lukic when we are looking for Dave Seaman.

Sagna 7 - Quiet going forward, solid defensively. Don't think ant spurs attacks after about 5 mins came down his side. Misses Hleb massively, oddly enough. Still obivously a long-term 1st teamer.

Clichy - 6 - Was really great until 80 mins in, before he lost his head a bit and eventually had his slip (which was contributed massively to by Song who was calling for the ball whilst never getting in any space). Great player with real guts but always seems to take far too long to get to the pace of the game tactically when us or the opposition change formation.

Gallas 8 - Good header for the goal, and no defensive errors. Possibly on his heels regarding rebounds to bent and lennon, but both fell away from him and towards them. Would have given him a 9, but as captain he should be providing more leadership to his team mates, giving more advice to the younger players. Probably the worlds best junior centre-back partner. Would have been world class alongisde Sol, Big Tone, Keown - maybe even Bouldy...

Silvestre 7- Well taken goal at an important time. Missed another easier chance afterwards, but that shouldn't have mattered. Not totally at fault for any goals, but really should be reacting quicker to close people down. Still adpating to his role at the club, and I'm happy to have him as 3rd choice centre half at the moment. Not sure he offers more than Toure.

Walcott - 7.5 Incredibly dangerous in first half without any definite end product, but scared spurs witless. Faded in the second due to tighter marking and not beign given the ball. Sagna and Cesc still trying to form solid on field partnerships with him, but the others seem to get it. Him coming off, unless replaced by vela or bendtner was a massive respite to spurs. Currently undroppable to my mind without being always totally convincing.

Nasri - 6.5 - as of late flitted in and out...still fitting in. Has for the most part great instincts, but needs to get a tiny bit stronger and to integrate better with the rest of the midfield. Shouldn't have needed Ade to finish his goal for him, but at least he had the rght idea. Great intelligence - the rest should improve over the season. Won't ever be as quick or strong or as good a finisher as Bobby Pires, but is tougher mentally and more of a fighter.

Cesc - 6 - Struggeld with Spurs 5 man midfield. Toure playing behind him stepping forward would have helped a lot freeing up space. Passing radar was all over the place and his decision making in the last 10 was poor. By all means keep going forward but if a pass isn't on retain posession. Looked tired. Really missing hleb and flamini in almost equal measure. Starting to work out how to play with Theo.

Denislon - 5 - Same probelms as cesc but more so. Tactically naive, no reall defensive instincts, can't tackle, not strong or quick enough for DMC. Very tidy footballer with good instincts going forward, but is cover for cesc and not his partner as his strengths and weaknesses are almost idnetical, only slightly worse. Not sure where his place in the team lies, but I think he's good coming off the bench. Not really his fault - square peg, round hole...should be kept in the squad though.

RVP -9 - Hand in all 4 goals and dangerous from start to finish. Still not quite got his shooting boots but better at taking corners and free kicks than the rest of the squad added together. Really up for it tonight. Enjoyed his silly dance with Ade, and they seem to enjoy playing with each other despite a slight lack of natural understanding. Only problem is after all hsi injuries the rest of the team are still working out how to play with him. Nice to see him shoot with his right foot for once!

Ade - 7.5 - Continues to wander from the sublime to the ridiculous with amazing regularity, as well as from the flat out to the lazy, but a continual threat and when played with a partner keeps defenses on their toes even when poor. good pass to RVP, good appetite for his goal, and the odd really good bit of build up play. Also shocking hold up play at times, bizzare decision making, bad finishing and last night poorly timed showboating. he is what he is and he makes the team better for the most part, particularly wheh he plays at pace.

Subs

Eboue - 6 did nothing really wrong and equally little right. Him coming on for Walcott was bad for the team but not his fault. Actually liked him in CM partnering cesc early on in the season. Quick, quite strong, good engine, will tackle from time to time, decent ball skills and plays best when playing simple. I actually think he is our best DM option apart from maybe Toure….time to be shot down! Also clearly the best reserve right back in britain!
Diaby – 6 Some good touches, some poor decisions, still can’t tackle. Languid style not helped by his lack of stamina. At 4-2 seemed like a good choice. Less so at 4-3! Really good player, but where does he fit in except a team shape like the Fener game? Want him to work out for us, but don’t know how….clearly not a DM option….
Song – 5 Did absolutely nothing but get in his team mates way, fail to impose himself or close the oppostion, or make himself available for possession. Lacks the Energy for a midfielder except in really defensive sense, and lacks the composure for a centre half. Suspect he’d probably be a good sweeper, but not shure when that would be relevant. Needs a big year or should move on.

Rest of the Squad Comments:

Djourou – Not sure what AW has against him. Never totally convincing but surely a better bet than song, and more sensible than anyone else when trying to plug gaps. Really hope he gets a run somewhere this year, preferrably at CB.
Toure – Like gallas needs a bigger man alongside him and has been worse than smiling billy so far, Think we have to stick with him….does he have the stamina to play the holding role. Lacks composure when things go against us, but still should be in the starting 11 for me.
Bendtner – Flatters to decieve, but you always suspect he’s really close to being brilliant, but doubt if he’ll ever get there. Good bench and cover option, but no better at this stage
Vela – massively promising, massively unproven. Wish we’d brought him on last night, as I think he’d have scored.
Ramsey – far better at his age than anyone bar cesc and theo in our squad. Spot on attitude. Will be a winner for us.

1god said...

those player reviews were mostly spot on-only thing is gallas was at fault for the spurs equalizer-he was dreaming-he does that sometimes, too many times, then he wants to rap the fresh prince of bel air theme tune to himself after the game. We are abit babyish, im not panicking like some others who have read the sun or listen to andy grays garbage that comes out his mouth. We as arsenal fans of course must point out stuff and voice our angryness but we should be careful, we dont make enough noise at the emirates because we are spoilt. Wengers young players policy aint that bad but a yaya or a commanding, relaxing presence would win us a trophy.

Mos said...

Anax
Just a few points:

How is Wenger a superb manager if his weakness is picking a team or make subsitutions?

You ask why should play Gallas at all then you put him in your team?

You drop Clichy who has been one of the players of the season so far and you replace him with Traore who Portsmouth don't even trust to play left back.

We don't play like Man Utd so we don't need to cross the ball like the 'Neville' brothers.

I agree we need a defensive midfielder instead of Denilison but a lot of your comments don't make sense.

1god said...

he is a superb manager, who would you prefer paul merson? i admit wenger makes mistakes but not many-our players have to take responsibility also as they are on the pitch and went crazy in the last few minutes.clichy is world class-how many mistakes have we seen him make? 2? in how many games, im hurting too but the media are making more of this, i trust wenger to sort it out.