By 1970's Gooner
There were two tactical weaknesses apparent during Arsenal’s first game of the season against Fulham at the Emirates. The first concerned Hleb’s positioning during the game and the other the obvious lack of a strong centre forward.
In my preview of this game (and considering that Wenger was not going to select Bendtner) I favoured Hleb to partner Van Persie over Eduardo even if the latter had been available.
Hleb looked sharper and rejuvenated during the pre season relishing his new role behind Van Persie and getting on the score sheet too. A feat which he promptly repeated again in a real game.
However what he tended to do a lot during the game was to drop deep into midfield and try and dictate play from there.
This crowded out Fabregas and Flamini not only in terms of space but more importantly restricting Fabregas from running the show as only he knows how.
And I think that we all agree that Fabregas is much better at it than Hleb; who has shown however that he can replace Fabregas if need be.
This had another negative effect. There was no support for Van Persie which restricted his passing options when he was able to receive the ball.
The second tactical weakness concerns the role of Van Persie himself. He is better deployed behind or next to a strong centre forward and not as a lone striker.
This was very evident last season when Henry was around and now with Bendtner in the friendlies. This is probably the way Wenger intends to deploy him when Adebayor returns.
However he chose not do so for this game probably because, as he has said recently, he does not consider Bendtner ready for the Premiership yet.
In my posting after the Ajax game for the Amsterdam Tournament I argued that Bendtner was the new fox in the box that we have for so long been looking for and that he should be starting against Fulham.
Wenger I think has underestimated the boy’s capabilities. The answer is staring him in his face yet he refuses to see it.
Bendtner has proved more than capable of playing that role and it clearly showed when he was brought on the pitch at 72 minutes.
This had a multiple of positive effects as you often get in football games when a weakness is corrected.
The introduction of a strong and tall centre forward raffled the opposing defence and allowed Van Persie to play off him thus becoming more effective himself. Additionally Hleb’s repositioning on the left flank (to make room for Bendtner) released Fabregas to weave his magic.
Bob’s your uncle Fabregas releases the killer ball that Hleb dispatched into the net on 90 minutes for the winner.
The latest news is that Eduardo has joined Adebayor on the injury list. Bendtner, if called upon, is well capable of performing well in the Champion’s League qualifier.
We have set up a poll on the issue of who should partner Robin Van Persie. Please cast your vote and leave a comment!
Bendtner makes a case for starting against Fulham
Strength in depth eases Wenger’s team selection worries for the coming season
Ed: Can Asa or anyone linking here from the "Same old Arsenal" blog please contact me using the comments box as the link from Arsenal Analysis" does not appear to be working!