Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tsarshavin and Silvestre: a tale of two signings and 8 goals.

I don't know about you but I was actually physically shaking at the end of the game at Anfield. Not necessarily with rage or joy; just due to the immense amounts of adrenaline that had been pumped through my body during one of the more incredible games of football I've seen.

People have said it was a strange game as we had nothing to play for. Well, that's balls. Firstly, we're only 6 points behind 3rd place,and after Chavski's draw we would have only been 4 if we'd won. Secondly, I'm not wholly convinced that some of the players didn't have a sneaking feeling we could make a late title challenge.

The only way that was going to happen was if we won all our remaining games, and others fell to bits - a kind of replication of the '98 season.

It didn't happen, and I'm still trying to work out if we were unlucky not to win or lucky not to lose.

The game veered from the sublime to the ridiculous - Arbeloa playing a virtual one-two with Arshavin before his stupendous goal or us AGAIN being outnumbered in our own box in the closing minutes of a game we were hanging on to win (spuds home, villa away spring to mind).

On balance, a draw was probably fair. As incredible as some of our attacking play was, I can safely so I have witnessed few defensive performances as abject as that from an Arsenal team in the past.

And so for me it largely came down to two players: The Imperious TsArshavin of mother Russia; and the light-bulb headed disaster that is Mikael Silvestre.

Arshavin epitomises everything that the majority of our signings should be: established players with bags of talent who can make a difference instantly.

His goals highlighted every part of a great attacking players repertoire: speed, finesse, agility, power, an ability to use both feet, and a tenacity to be in the right place at the right time.

His fourth goal was almost hallucinatory in its brilliance. Theo sprinting half the pitch with another great Anfield assist, before Arshavin finished with the type of aplomb that I doubt any other Arsenal player could muster. I nearly wept. It was beautiful.

And within seconds, the other signing had helped undo his work. Silvestre, who has been unremittingly awful since his arrival at the club, helped stir panic in our defence and saw us again snatch what felt like a defeat from the jaws of victory. Seriously, if he wasn't good enough for the Mancs, why the hell should he be good enough for us? His performance yesterday was worse than Senderos's last year up in scouseville, and i'd never thought i'd say that.

I'd like to say it's incredible that we managed to concede with only 2 minutes to go, but it wasn't. The only incredible thing is where Howard Webb got five bloody minutes of injury time from. We have the shell of a great team at the moment, but one that still turns off too often at critical moments.

The only reasonable excuse is that we had a patched up defence yesterday. But even then, when was the last time Kolo had a consistent period of form? What was the point of losing Senderos and buying Silvestre? Does Denilson offer any defensive assistance whatsoever?

The game was thus a microcosm of Arsenal's season - moments of sublime attacking football woven into periods, and i do mean periods, of utter chaos in defence.

Can we push on from this? Yes, if we concentrate on improving our defence again. Silvestre should be sold/put-down. Kolo should be a squad player. Gibbs - who has been fantastic since coming in - should be allowed to push Clichy for a starting berth. Gallas and Djourou should be our starting CBs, and if Gallas leaves a decent replacement - not a kid or some ropey Cygan-esque CB - should be brought in. I still think a new goalkeeper isn't an awful idea.

In midfield, Denilson's place in the team should come under serious consideration. I think that playing Nasri centrally but with a more defensive mindet could really work as he bust a gut doing so last night. He certainly can't be worse than the performances Denilson has produced in the last two games.

Cesc should not play in the ridiculous support striker position he's been pushed into.

Song should be first XI - his improvement this year has been a joy, and he even pushed Arshavin for Motm last night.

The team should be built around Arshavin playing centrally in the hole.

If our defence is tweaked, and we mentally thoughen up a bit when we get ourselves into good positions, we can push on from this season. I really think that Arsene not putting out a first XI for the FA Cup was a mistake because this group of players needs to get a trophy, any trophy under its belt, and winning the FA Cup would have been easier than the Champions League. Players need to learn how to win and sometimes you have to aim a little low at first.

Overall, more Arshavins and less Silvestres. Then, one day, we might actually hold a lead at Anfield...


library2.0 said...

but can we beat manure with this defence?i fear we will be ripped apart like sporting against bayern

Anonymous said...

ashavin's fourth finish was "almost hallucinatory" - great comment. that's exactly what i saw too - he ran on to the all with such pace and hit it so quickly my mind was already seeing it in row Z and then incredibly my eyes were telling me it was in the back of the net - stunning goal and in the 90th minute as well. Damn why didn't we get him in the summer!?

Anonymous said...

silvestre is awful dear god for a person with bags of experience he dont really show it was at wembley sat and he was rubbish the mancs must be having a right old laugh

Anonymous said...

Villa game and the Liverpool game if you go back and watch the game you will realise that the midfield never help the defence in getting the second ball. take a look at the last goal on tuesday, you will notice Diaby strolling towards the top of the D and it has been like that all season.
you need to ask with 2 mins to go why was the team still insisting on attack? i thot we were told they had learned from the spurs game? 2 mins? were was the midfield to assist the defence.
i strongly believe it a collect thing

Anonymous said...

Silvestre had cracking game aginst villareal! So leave the old light bulb alone! 2bh Sagna cost us 2 goals at liverpool! Not having ago at sagna cos he been outstanding but he was more then rusty at anfield!

Anonymous said...

Silvestre was appalling, but Sagna was equally bad and Toure was a fucking joke as well. Unless Wenger buys some defenders, his team will never win anything again. If he can't be bothered then Arsenal should get another manager who is serious about Arsenal winning trophies and Wenger can sit upstairs and scout for attacking players instead.

AmitD said...

You do realize that the first three goals were gifted to you guys on a silver platter don't you? You had 4 attempts on target and 4 goals. Your keeper was the difference in us only getting 4 goals. A draw was in reality not a fair result. Liverpool should have won this game handily. Be objective why don't you?

russ said...

agree with alot of what you say but the defence shouldnt shoulder all of the blame. also 5 minutes is in my mind irrelevent. had there been one minute of injury time arsenal would still have had enough time to draw that game. as it happenened the goal came with 93 minutes on the clock but it doesnt really matter.

as good as arshavin was in an attacking capacity he left gibbs dangerously exposed all game. i really think wenger got it wrong on tuesday and i dont say that very often. Fab up top was wrong and his refusal to play him in the middle of the park even when theo came on seemed to baffle even he at the end of the game as he chated with nasri. to bring off bendter with two min to go meant that Carragher had what was effectively an unchallenged header (against Theo), the ball dropped to Alonso and his vision created the 4th. a defence can hold some of the blame but if your wide midfielders are playing as support strikers and your best and most fiesty midfielder is playing up top it should come as no surprise when you concede 4 at anfield when liverpool must win to keep championship hopes alive.

it appeared on tues as if wenger doesnt know what his best team is and where his best players are most effective. hopefully he can rectify it before old trafford or the tie might be out of sight before the emirates. i trust he will. always trust wenger.

for me if all are fit: Almunia, Def:Clichy, Gallas, Djou, Sagna, Central Mid holding: Fab, Song, Advanced 3: Arsh, RvP, Theo,
Up top: Ade.

Anonymous said...

Denilson is shattered. He would have never played so much football in one season ever. He has played almost every game for us and i honestly think he is just too physically and mentally tired to continue. Lucky for us Song has started to improve

Silvestre really is useless.

Did anyone else think Bendtner's goal was onside???
I only saw one replay but it looked like one of those 'benefit of the doubt' decisions.