Friday, November 07, 2008

A win to paper over the cracks? Or a defeat to end the great experiment?

I don't normally like writing previews because I'm almost invariably proved wrong. That may sound a little arrogant, but once you start watching a certain level of football you like to think that you know what's going on.

So I think tomorrow's going to go one of two ways.

Arsenal may well lose heavily. Thankfully, I think the 6-1 was a one-off, we must have angered God in some way, moment of absolute awfulness. But the result which sticks in my mind equally is the 4-2 drubbing we received in 04/05 at Highbury. Whilst we took the lead in that game, some choice refereeing by Graham Poll(and let's not forget the equally awful Howard Webb is in charge tomorrow), and a couple of goals by a still emerging Ronaldo helped put pay to our title challenge that year.

In 2005 we had a great team on the way out; this year, we have a great team on the way in, if we're to believe Arsene.

The problem is, some of them just aren't that great; and, as painful as it may be to contemplate, I'm not sure they will become world-class. Players like Denilson, Song, Diaby, and Eboue just appear too erratic and, possibly, pampered to push on to really become the bedrock of a winning squad, let alone a first XI.

This could be extended to others in the team. Almunia - is he really good enough? Gallas and Silvestre - should they really be the future of our defence? Two players that other top-four sides have considered surplus to requirements?

It seems that we have a few really great players - Cesc, Sagna, Clichy – and a few who could go either way - Adebayor, van Persie, Nasri, and Theo. Aside from that, there’s a huge amount of filler in our squad, and that’s why we’re not going to challenge for the league this season, although a topsy-turvy Champions League run remains a possibility.

When you compare this to the United squad, who not only didn’t lose any significant players of the summer, but added a £30 million striker to their league and Champions league winning team, it’s hard to see how there can be any comparison.

But a one-off game can produce any result. And we beat United twice in 06/07, despite them having a far stronger team and a better season than us. And United aren’t stupid enough to think that they can pitch up at the Grove and walk a result there, even against a team which has lost to Stoke, Hull, and Fulham already this season, and which conceded four goals in its last league match at home. They may start cautiously, which could play into our hands.

So, there’s a chance that if we can frustrate United for long enough, a 1-0, or a 2-1 could be on the cards.

Let’s hope the latter happens – it’s certainly what a disciplined Pool side did against United a few weeks back. But if it does happen, let’s hope it’s not a win which papers over the cracks, which masks the deficiencies in the first xi and the squad this season. If we don’t strengthen in January, we will not win anything this season, regardless or not of whether we get a result tomorrow.

Flamini hasn’t been replaced, you could plausibly argue that neither has Sol, and we’re still short of the additional quality on top of that which cost us the league last year. Unfortunately, whether we win or lose tomorrow, the squad is still not good enough.


Anonymous said...

I agree, I feel a tough and no-nonsense Centre back in the Sol Campbell/Adams/Keown mould is what we need too partner Kolo and bring the best back out of him, I'm not a big fan of Gallas, And i detest the fact Wenger made him captain last year, let alone this year, I also think your spot on in terms of a DM, while i like Denilson, and also Diaby too, We really need a Paddy V, Stevie G, Roy Keane mould player in the middle too battle it out and allow super allow Super Cesc and the rest of our flair players do there thing.

In my opinion, Wenger should ditch Gallas and try a Djourou & Toure pairing, which has done well before, if he insists saving the pennys.

Of the 2 players we need, i am not even bothered if there well known or experienced, so long as they have the ability and needed backbone/aggression too do the job that is needed done.

Go, Go gooners, lets beat Utd and kick on from here, but lets hope, it dont paper over the cracks! :)

Anonymous said...

i am not sure wat u mean wen u say unitedhad a far bigger squad tha arse --giggs was playing striker for3\4 of the season ,and against milan they had to play brown evra heinze fletcher as defence ---thats hardly better than wat we hav got!!

Anonymous said...

We will probably get our asses kicked like we did a few seasons ago with a much, much stronger side going down 5-1 but as a fan as long as I see effort and a fight-to-the-end spirit I will be satisfied. After all the team is not responsible but the manager is who in his stubbornness has refused to address issues obvious to others like abandoning ideas that don't work and spending a little to address shortfalls in defense and midfield. Our ridiculous "only give above 30 year olds one year contracts" policy has killed us making us lose Pires and Gilberto early. Taking away Gilberto's captaincy still boggles the mind. What a great job he would have still done for us this season is obvious to me. It's not the team's fault that the manager is letting them down and so as long as they play for pride and go down tonight I will be happy. Unfortunately, until we get Guus Hiddink or someone of that ilk in, I'm just praying that we avoid relegation until he retires.

Anonymous said...

Neville's 'Champions' Devoured by Bloodthirsty Diaby-Lamb!!

Read the best post match analysis at


Anonymous said...