Sunday, January 27, 2008
Vela is ready for the Premier League Walcott not yet
By 1970’s Gooner
I watched the game between Sevilla and Carlos Velas’s team Osasuna last night as I am sure a lot of Arsenal fans did.
The game was played at a terrific pace with a lot of passion, hard challenges and high intensity from both sides. It was like watching a Premier league game.
I had made of point of watching Carlos Vela before so that I would be able to form my own opinion of the lad.
He was after all a relatively recent Arsenal signing and obviously any youngster who is spotted and signed by Wenger must have the special qualities of exceptional technique and skills (coupled with a good character).
When Vela signed a permanent deal at Arsenal at the beginning of the year Wenger was 100% convinced of his ability.
"He's top class. I like his intelligence and his pace. He scores goals but he can also create them. "He's a special talent and I believe 100 per cent that he will make it at the highest level."
So I watched him during the summer in the FIFA Under 20’s World Cup which took place in Canada but I was not that impressed.
He was not involved much during the games and stayed peripheral to the action. He was however deployed more in the centre forward areas of the pitch or just behind the forward rather than the wings.
He played in all five matches but Mexico were knocked out at the Quarter-Final stage by eventual winners Argentina.
He has since been loaned out to Osasuna in Spain (he was on loan previously to second Division outfit Salamanca) and has been almost a regular for Osasuna in recent games.
So I made the point of watching him in action again against Real Madrid last month a game which Osasuna lost 3-0.
I was very pleasantly surprised and hugely impressed with his performance as he was a constant thorn on Real Madrid’s defense who had their hands full to contain him. They more often than not reverted to fouling him. He was that quick.
On one occasion he nut megged Sergio Ramos from a very tight position on the corner line and left him wondering where the ball was.
He reminded me of a committed and energetic Reyes who was forever dribbling past his marker with pace and ease only to be felled to the floor unceremoniously. He looked like a carbon copy.
He was playing on the left hand side of midfield, as an out and out old fashioned winger. Osasuna’s counter attacking tactics suited his style of play very well. And he certainly ran the line with exceptional technique and skill.
He put in a similar performance last night again Sevilla. On this occasion it was the highly rated and much sought after transfer target, left back Daniel Alves who had to endure the young man’s pace and trickery.
Alves spent a lot of the game bombing forward and then trying to catch up when his team lost the ball which was reckless enough as Vela is quite fast anyway. It was no wonder that most of Osasuna’s threat and goal originated from the left hand side of Sevilla’s defence.
This game came after Arsenal had taken care of Newcastle in the afternoon. And since the Osasuna clash against Sevilla had a lot of the characteristics of a Premier League game I couldn’t help comparing Velas’s performance against Walcott’s inept showing which preceded it.
Ok Walcott played better than in his last outing against Spurs but still looked a long way behind in his development than Velas did against Sevilla.
The difference was obvious to me. Walcott looked shorn of confidence and on occasions was not strong enough to keep the defenders from brushing him away.
He also lacked good control of the ball (which as a result meant that Arsenal’s attacks kept breaking down until he was moved to the flank) and was not near as penetrative enough as Vela was.
In contrast Vela looked assured, full of confidence and trickery and was able to go past his defender with more ease.
In fact when he was moved to the middle of the attack late in the game he was strong enough to hold the central defender breathing down his neck and use his skill to hold the ball. In this way he relieved his team of the pressure they were under.
If he were with the Arsenal squad right now I think he would have been starting the games and not Walcott. He is that ready.
Both Walcott and Vela are very young boys but overall Vela looks far more advanced in his development and is able to cut it against the big boys.
Walcott is still a work in progress.
(Contrary to a lot of, what proved to be totally unfounded, speculation on the internet, Vela will not return to Arsenal now but in the coming summer. Earlier in this article I likened him to Reyes. Let’s hope when he comes back he takes to the English weather better than Reyes did).