Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Arsenal HAVE to win the league this year
By Eros, Arsenal Analysis resident season ticket holder
For the first time this season I left the Emirates feeling extremely frustrated that we had surrendered two points and with it top spot, to one of Fergie’s chums. Mc Leish practically admitted after the game that Sir Alex gave him a game plan on how to play against us.
What is more frustrating however is that Birmingham’s tactics were not anything to write home about. They did not have any kind of game plan going forward nor were they overly physical. They basically defended deep to try and negate Ade’s and Edie’s pace and got a lot of bodies behind the ball.
They defended well, extremely well but they were only able to get a result because we were wasteful, arrogant and thought that after we scored they’d roll over so that we’d win the game.
Once more our passing game was not there, the quick simple short exchanges kept breaking down, Cesc was not dominant as he usually is and we were not helped by the fact that our right side was practically non existent.
Theo was a liability on Saturday. He was never threatening, had no variation in his play and constantly did the same thing when he got the ball: Checked and passed the ball backwards!!!
On the rare occasions he tried to use his pace, he always made the wrong decision, instead of running into empty space he run straight into defenders consistently losing the ball. He should have been taken off a lot earlier.
I also though that Wenger made a mistake by pushing Eduardo wide when Bendtner came on. Eduardo was the most likely goal threat and he was largely ineffective on the right.
I was also surprised to observe that even though Eboue is not having a great season his mere presence on the pitch helps our play.
His explosiveness gives defenders problems and even though usually he has no end product he can not be ignored thus helping to stretch play and create more space in the middle. We were very narrow on Saturday making it easier for Birmingham to defend against us.
Wenger was visibly frustrated and he correctly said that we had our worst game of the season.
I thought he was extremely conservative in his bench selections, one of Diaby and Gilberto should have been dropped for a more attacking or creative option.
Failing that since Theo was not providing any width I thought that trying to employ Sagna and Hoyte together was our next best option.
Win the title this year
Many people have the opinion that even if we don’t win the title this year the experience will stand us in good stead for the future. This might be the case but I have some concerns I’d like to express!
1) All three titles under Wenger came before not after major tournaments. We usually start well but we run out of gas by the end of the season.
2) We usually loose key players after major tournaments either through injury or otherwise. Cesc is going to spend the whole summer with his Spanish friends who will no doubt try and turn his head away from the Emirates.
3) Wenger stated on record that he is ‘hopeful’ that Flamini will be here next year. That statement does not fill me with confidence, and if we loose Flamini we will have to adjust the way we play. This might be the reason why Wenger is very reluctant to let Diarra go even if a hefty profut will be made on the transaction.
4) Both Man U and Chelsea will benefit from England missing out of the European Championship but we won’t. And both will again outspend us in the transfer market.
5) Benitez will definitely get the sack by the summer and the law of averages says that Liverpool will get it right at some point and they will seriously challenge for the title in the next few years making it even harder to win the league.
We have been top of the league practically all season and with 16 games we are only behind on goal difference. We have not played well since we won away to Aston Villa but we have found a way to win the majority of our games. At some point we have to find our rhythm again and start playing devastating football.
Games between the top four
Cristiano Ronaldo has been on fire since he came back from early season injuries, he has dragged Manure by the scruff of the neck out of sticky situations and he and their defence have kept them in touch and now put them on top of the league.
Can he keep playing like that for the next 16 games? I don’t see why not. He has after all been consistent for the last 18 months.
Chelsea are only four points behind and with Anelka in their team they are again serious contenders. They currently have players away in the ANC but they should be able to cope for a few weeks; Ballack came back after injury and SWP is probably playing his best football since his move from city
For the first time in a long time who ever wins the most points out of the games between the top four will probably win the league.
United have a slight advantage because they have two games at home (Liverpool and Arsenal) and we have one (Liverpool). For some reason I think that Wenger has Chelsea’s number this season and I fully expect us to win at the Bridge.
I cannot predict the future but I have had a hunch for a while now that if we win at Old Trafford we will win the league.
I can only dream of another day like the one that clinched the league at the Theatre of Dreams!