Saturday, November 01, 2008

A rubbish formation, predictable goals, and Arsene's chickens come home to roost.

Well if Wednesday's game was an embarrassment, this was just pitiful. Arsenal were outplayed by a team that have laid bare their incredibly basic gameplay strategy on numerous occasions already this season, without so much as a whimper or much of an idea of how to get the better of them.

It's a shame that Clichy's first goal for the club will, and probably should, be forgotten in the midst of all this, but this was just about as bad a performance as we've seen in the Wenger era.

What have Stoke done several times already this season? Scored from long throw ins. I believe they've done this five times already this season. And do you think they might continue to try this against us, a team that can't defend high-balls into the box? Yes, yes they did. Did we seem ready for this? Of course not.

The first goal saw Almunia, again, no-where to be seen when a high-ball was put into the area (he's cost us a handful of goals in this way already this season), and Toure simply not bothering to jump and make a straight-forward header. Given that, one decent save aside, Almunia had a poor performance all round today, will he be dropped for Fabianski? Lehmann was dropped for two mistakes in two games last season, after all.

More pertinently, this goal was entirely predictable. Entirely. Yet as soon as the ball came into the area the team acted like they had no idea whatsoever how to clear the high-ball from a throw-in. It's either poor players, poor coaching, or both.

The decline of Toure is now also become a major issue. He's becoming a liability in the box and always seems to be on the verge of a mistake. His recovery pace was always his strong point, but without a big defender next to him to do the dirty work, he looks completely exposed. Silvestre, despite an impressive debut, does not appear to be the answer either. And Djourou, inexplicably, still isn't being given a chance.

Yet the real problem, all game, was the ridiculous team selection and formation. Arsene's tactics had almost ruined things against Everton last week, and here was a formation that, from the off, clearly wasn't going to work.

Picking 4 central midfielders doesn't work, unless they have exceptional quality and discipline to stay in their designated positions. Playing Song, Denilson, Fabregas and Diaby in one midfield wasn't going to work, and didn't. We had no attacking threat, until, like against Everton, Theo came on and offered some width, speed and danger.

So, the question has to be begged, why is Arsene persisting in these bizarre formations? Does he think quality players can play anywhere? Possibly, but most of ours certainly can't. Is he so enamoured with his success of turning Flamini into a great CM that he thinks he can do the same this year? Because Denilson/Diaby/Song aren't the answer in CM next to Cesc.

So not only does our midfield have no bite, but it had 4 players tripping over each-others toes, meaning that our best midfielder, Cesc, was, again, totally wasted.

And up front we had Ade, who decided he couldn't be arsed and limped off half-way through the second-half, RvP who lost his composure and was rightly red-carded for an absurd challenge on Sorenson, and Bendtner who doesn't appear able to play with Ade.

All Arsene's chickens have come home to roost. Any Arsenal fan could have said at the start of the season that we still didn't have a dominant CB, yet this was addressed by getting rid of Senderos and replacing him with Silvestre, which doesn't appear to have improved the situation at all. That Man U were willing to let him go should have spoken volumes.

We could all tell that selling/losing all our defensive midfielders would cost the team if they weren't replaced; and yet we were greeted by Denilson, Eboue and Song now 'sureing' up our midfield.

We all knew that a major reason behind our failure to win the league last year was that our squad was too thin. Yet we have barely replaced the players (in numerical terms) that we lost last season, and did not get the extra bodies we needed in over the summer.

I'm sorry Arsene, but the experiment must end; transition has turned into stagnation.

We need a new CEO who can tell you when you're wrong.

We need experienced players, not youngsters who gain 'experience' every time they lose.

We need a defensive coach, because we keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and I'm beginning to wonder whether you can do anything about them.

The club needs a team that will challenge for honours, and justify the highest ticket prices in the Premiership, because building a team on the cheap and then charging huge fees to see it isn't fair on the average Arsenal fan.

Let's hope today is a wake-up call. But then, weren't we meant to wake-up after Hull, Fulham and the debacle on Wednesday? This could be a pivotal season in the history of the club.


Anonymous said...

It is all about balance
It is all about balance really. In any successful team you need constructive players and when you don’t have the ball destructive players to stop the opposition from playing. In other words players that will work hard when you don’t have the ball. Players that will hound the opposition and close them down. Players that can defend corners and score from corners at the other end. When we go out to buy players it always seems to be the same type we are looking for. Skilful, two footed players that look pretty on the ball and can easily be deployed on the flanks. But when are our scouts ever told to seek out imposing players, players that you can play at centre half, or as holding midfielders, hard players that are good leaders and when you are behind will by hard graft take you back into a game. Players that shut a game out when you are ahead. The Patrick Vieiras, Emmanuel Petit, Tony Adams..... It’s just not in the Arsenal blue print when we go looking for players. This is why we have ended up being a light weight, pretty team that is going nowhere because there is no backbone, no substance and no heart in this team. We are a team without a spine in every sense of the word. We have become a very unbalanced team and the saddest thing is that it is becoming a habit season after season. Arsene told us this summer again that we didn’t need any new players as the panel was strong enough. If he is this delusional then we are going nowhere quickly and we better get used to it. So it is plain to the dog in the street what this team is lacking for at least three seasons now. So now what??

Anonymous said...

It is now getting very worrying. The total lack of creative players on show today in our midfield must leave Cesc asking whats going on? We have to get through to January and buy some quality. If we dont we will lose Cesc and Ade and then what? Our central defenders are poor, Almunia inspires no confidence and a partner for Cesc is a must. Funny Alonso is playing out of skin!! An extra £2m might have been the answer, what will he cost now, even if the scousers will let him go.

Anonymous said...

golden boy fibreglass seems to beyond critisizing but hes been our second worst player second only to that great finisher with the brilliant first touch ade badplayer

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster. Adebayor is a lazy JOKE. At least Bendtner is willing to put in some honest work. Our first choice strikers should be RvP and Eduardo, when he comes back, with Vela and Bendtner as backups. I also agree that Cesc is a shadow of the player who was on fire in the first half of last season. He seems to have given up already. Not good enough, Cesc! Finally, Almunia has had some decent games but some of us always expected him to come up short when it mattered. He is average, not good enough for the Arsenal. The last time we had a world class keeper on form we went unbeaten through an entire season. Look at Chelsea and ManU. A top class keeper is a must if you want to compete.

Anonymous said...

Good article, spot on with CEO and Coaching issues. We need change, and change big time.

Anonymous said...

the chickens are coming home to roost. this is all down to a ridiculous summer. you reap what you sow and wenger risked too much with the defensive aspects of the team (especially midfield). but he also seems to have lost the plot. why would anyone stick 2 big men up front and then no wingers to supply crosses? dropping both walcott and Nasri was pure suicide. wenger needs someone to tell him when he's getting it wrong cos clearly Rice does not.

we are going for 4th spot, no question, but I want to see some big changes so we can challenge for the CL.

At least some good news, Ade is injured and RVP is suspended so we might get an attack that actually gels and wants to be there. shame about Sagna's injury but lets hope Eboue can come back to right back. knowing wenger he will stick Toure there and Eboue on the wing!
time to oget Djourou, Ramsey and Vela into this team as many people have been saying for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Terrific blog Goonerboy. To add to your post, in my opinion, we need to start doing some simple things.

1. Stop talking about the league title. Just forget it, forget the position, etc. and concentrate on taking 3 points in the next game. The old cliche of taking it game by game is so true. Focus on the next game at least till the January signing period.

2. Wenger needs to continually motivate this bunch. Yes, we failed to address the problems everyone and his grandfather knows about but the major problem has been a lack of leadership. Missing Flamini and Gilberto has not just been about the way they play--they brought additional leadership. So, what Wenger needs to do is to light a fire under everyone's behind so that they perform every single game. This team, as much as it has its faults, can still beat the best teams when it shows up to play. The problem is that we don't show up. And since Wenger doesn't have the leadership, he needs to kick peoples' butts before games, during games, and after games. It's tough but he has to do it because this team just needs it.

I don't see any team this season that has looked way better than anyone else. United shipped 3 at Old Trafford to Hull City and they looked incredibly nervy in the last few minutes. Liverpool lost to league bottom Spurs. Chelsea surrendered their long-standing home record at the Bridge recently.

It's going to be incredibly hard to win the league with this team but it's not impossible. And if we hang around till January, who knows what might happen. A signing or two and we're back in business.

I hope the crowd at the Emirates does back the team mid-week and more importantly next Saturday. If we take 3 points off United, the outlook will brighten.

Here's hoping that happens.

Anonymous said...

Its the same shit repeated over and over again. Football blogs are shit.