Monday, December 31, 2007
Electric Eduardo digs Arsenal out of a hole but still without rhythm for West Ham
By 1970’s Gooner
I don’t think that Arsene Wenger has discovered a plan B as most media pundits are reporting. The long ball, for those who watch Arsenal’s games more regularly, has recently played a bigger part of Arsenal’s play as the midfield has struggled to find rhythm.
This was due to the fact that the team had become more static without a lot of movement off the ball. This is after all essential for the “ball to floor” approach that Arsenal had come to be associated with at the start of the season.
Prior to the game I, along with a lot of others, were calling for the abandonment of the lone striker approach as the balls to the front man especially the long ball that had by necessity been adopted was not finding enough recipients able to take advantage.
What really changed at Goodison Park were two things. The first was the fact that Eduardo was in the starting line up in a 4 4 2 formation. He had started in a 4 4 2 formation before but that was when the long ball to the strikers was more reluctantly used.
And during the first half at Everton Eduardo was again not contributing much nor was he able to hold the ball to any good effect. But in the second half Arsenal started hoofing the ball to the front men and due to his pace and anticipation was able to find the space to use the ball more efficiently.
There was also more space available for him as the Everton midfield were more preoccupied in pressing tight against Arsenal’s midfield rather than staying back protecting their defence and relinquishing space.
The second thing that was different at Everton was the inept defending from their central defenders especially Jagielka who was found wanting for both of Eduardo’s goals.
Don’t get me wrong. Eduardo has proved again that he is an electric, clinical finisher. He only needs the merest of chances and he will convert with ease. A real fox in the box that Arsenal needed to add to the impressive generation of chances that are usually created.
Although his second strike was more like Bergkamp’s famous goal at Newcastle he reminds me more of Van Nistelroy who was lethal within the box and on many occasions his goals were the only highlight of Manchester United’s wining performances and title triumphs.
Arsenal’s emphatic win at Everton was such a performance where the team did not play that well but still got the three points. We will need a few more of these to be crowned Champions at the end of the season.
Which conveniently brings us to Arsenal’s next game against West Ham at the Emirates. I watched their sumptuous if unexpected win against Manchester United and I was very impressed with their strength, tenacity and approach.
They pressed United’s midfield very tightly and in Mullins and Noble they have the players capable of doing that. They also played with a single striker up front in Carlton Cole who impressed with his ability to hold and lay the ball off to his team mates even if under the pressure of Vidic and Ferdinand.
West Ham will bring this attitude to tomorrow’s game and they will rely on the dead ball situations to make an impact especially when they decide to go with two up front by bringing Ashton on if the game demands it.
The probable absence of their more creative players in Solano and Parker may, in a way, work against Arsenal’s favour as this may force them to become even more physical in their approach rather than try and pass the ball around.
I would expect that Arsene Wenger will keep the same shape as at Everton. Adebayor will probably start in place of the banned Bendtner and maybe Rosicky will get a starting place in front of Hleb who was not at his best.
Diaby although below par at Goodison may be kept in the team due to his defensive and more importantly his aerial abilities which will be much in demand.
The game is likely to be decided in Arsenal’s favour if chances are carved out for Eduardo who is on a hot streak at the moment but more importantly if the defence organize themselves well for the high balls in the area especially from set pieces.
Prediction: Home win 1-0
From myself and the other contributors to "Arsenal Analysis" Happy New Year!