Thursday, January 10, 2008
Absence of wise hands leads to injuries (plus player analysis and ratings Vs Spurs)
By 1970’s Gooner
What was noticeably absent was the lack of a wise hand in the middle of the defence.
Senderos amd Djourou were very square and did not really work as a pair. Berbatov and Keane run them rugged with Berbatov dropping deep to receive the ball and with his trickery dictate play.
If Gallas had been in the line up things would have been a lot different in defence. He would have brought organisation and positional awareness.
Arsene Wenger will need to consider correcting this imbalance between youth and experience for the return leg if we are to go through to the final for a second year in succession.
However who will be fit to play in the return leg in two weeks time and indeed for the Premier League games coming up in between is now debatable.
The imbalance in the line put the whole team and certain players under a lot of physical pressure which inevitably led to injuries.
Robin van Persie, Johan Djourou, Philippe Senderos and Theo Walcott are undergoing scans today. All four are now major doubts for the game against Birmingham City on Saturday.
Senderos injured his medial knee ligaments and Djourou has a groin complaint. With Kolo Touré and Song already departed for the African Cup of Nations only William Gallas is now the remaining available centre-half. Hoyte looked a viable alternative to me.
Arsene Wenger said: We don't know yet how long the injured players willl be out."
Van Persie complained of pain in the thigh he hurt last month. "It might be just scar tissue but we have to respect the injury," said Wenger. Walcott also twisted an ankle late on and was substituted by Randall.
It was a flat performance with a lot of the players playing below par in all areas of the pitch.
As feared the central defensive pairing of Senderos and Djourou was suspect throughout the game and was the weakest link in the Arsenal line up.
In midfield players like Diaby and Denilson were wasteful in possession contributing very little in their respective roles.
And in attack Van Persie did not look match fit and therefore could not link up well with Bendtner or be dangerous enough to bother the Spurs defence.
The draw flattered us.
Here is the player analysis and ratings which was also posted last night.
Overall had a good game and made two good saves. Made a couple of mistakes dropping the ball in the box in front of a bunch of players and once his burst out of the area was not fast enough to catch Berbatov. Due to his inexperience in the Premier League I would be worried if Almunia got injured. 6
Steady and reliable. Impressed me a lot when he had to play centre back. In fact he steadied the middle of the defence something that was missing before Djourou was substituted. 7
A much better game than at Burnley. Was well positioned and strong in his challenges. Lennon was kept mostly quiet which is a very good compliment to pay for Traore. Got forward a lot more in the second half and put in some useful crosses. 7
Has not improved this year. I have to say he is probably the only one of the “younger” players that has not added a lot to his play this season. Was out of position again on a few occasions. Played better in the second half. 5
Disappointing. The pairing with Senderos did not work. They did not cover for each other and were both rather flat. His mistake on the header he misplaced was not helped by Senderos lack of cover and Keane was through to lay the ball for Jenas to score. I would be worried if Gallas got injured and we had to pair these two in a league game. From tonight’s performance I would prefer Hoyte instead! 5
Played much better today. Was more combative and commanding in the air. His passing was not at its best and he faded a little in the second half. 6
One of his worst games for Arsenal. Passing was off, decision making below average and he go caught with the ball too often as Spurs employed the tactic of pressing from the front and not allowing any space for the midfielders to turn with the ball. It was on one such an occasion that he lost the ball in the middle of the field which led to Spurs getting their goal. 4
Pass the ball man! Don’t try and show us that you can play football. He ended up slowing the game up every time he got the ball and held it up selfishly. I can’t remember any occasion where he got passed his man on the wing. Contributed very little for the whole. 3.5
Tried to be busy and use his pace but he hardly got any joy on the wing as he kept running into opponents. It was only when he ventured in the middle of the Spurs defence to receive a lovely through pass from Eduardo that he actually scored. 6
Busy and got a lot of headers. Dropped back a little bit in between the midfield and the attack but his passing was not at its best. He wasn’t helped by Van Persie’s lack of mobility. Got into a good position to head Walcott’s cross but Cerny saved it. Was more active in the second half. 6
Unfit and therefore less mobile. Was not able to contribute much and rightly substituted for Eduardo for the second half. Still he had to play so that he could get match fit. 5
I think if he had started he would have probably scored. Gave a delightful assist for Walcott’s goal and generally prowled around sniffing for the goal opportunities. Arsenal’s below average play did not help however. 7
Came on at half time for Djourou and had a fine game at right back bringing some experience to bear to what was a beleaguered back four prior to that. Ventured forward putting some dangerous crosses. 7
1, goals, 1
0, 1st half goals, 1
4, Shots on Target, 5
3, shots off target, 5
2, Blocked Shots, 3
4, Corners, 5
0, Offsides, 6
0, Yellow Cards, 0
0, Red Cards, 0
76.3%, Passing Success, 73.8%
30, Tackles, 35
70%, Tackle success, 74.3%
51%, Possession, 49%