Saturday, March 01, 2008
Player analysis and ratings Vs Villa. A woeful performance salvages a crucial point
By 1970’s Gooner
This was the second worse performance of the season for Arsenal after that woeful display at the Riverside.
Arsene Wenger then opted for a weak midfield which lacked creativity but also started with Eduardo who was then still trying to find his feet in the Premiership.
Arsene Wenger made another similar decision today to start with Walcott up front along with Adebayor. It only worked for a while with Walcott benefiting from Adebayor’s lay offs but then running out of steam.
At half time Wenger instructed Hleb to switch places with Walcott and things improved a little bit.
But it wasn’t enough because this was not the only problem with Arsenal’s performance. The whole team as a unit was way below par with almost all players greatly underperforming.
Fabregas’s passing and energy levels have dropped again after picking up recently, Diaby is not a left winger and kept coming infield all the time and Walcott who is more of a winger couldn’t place his crosses and usually over hit them.
Adebayor himself was out of the game until the 93rd minute when from Clichy’s last gasp cross finally managed to get his head over the ball (rather than under it) and direct it to the unmarked Bendtner to equalise.
Credit must go to Villa and Martin O’Neil who not only defended well but exploited Arsenal’s weaknesses in defence by playing with two forwards who were big and strong.
Senderos and to a much lesser extend Gallas could not really cope with the height of Carew and Agbonlahor’s strength and pace.
Senderos in particular had his worst game so far and this is not only due to his own goal. Allowing either of the Villa forwards to turn him and run at Arsenal’s defense on numerous occasions was almost just as bad.
More importantly by playing two up front Villa made sure that they were not pinned down in their own half defending deep. It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes that Arsenal managed to keep them under sustained pressure that the goal came.
Almunia had a faultless game saving well from an unusually high number of shots that Villa had on target. His save from Gardner’s shot from outside the area by pushing the ball onto the post was the highlight. 9
Sagna was another that had a decent game and he pushed hard on the wing in the second half to give added width. 7
Clichy did ok and got crosses into the box especially the final one that led to the goal. He did however lose concentration (again) and play Agbonlahor just on when he raced down the right channel to sent the low cross that Senderos inadvertently put through his own goal. 6
Gallas had trouble both in the air and in terms of pace. 5
Senderos will want to forget this performance. 3
Flamini was his usual self. 7
Fabregas was below his best and tired in the end. Will he recover in time for the Milan game? 5
Walcott needs to learn how to cross effectively. 6
Hleb was pretty but ineffective. He was largely a peripheral figure. 5
Diaby is not a left winger. 4
Adebayor was very subdued and out of the game altogether until the goal. 5
Bendtner at least got the goal. 7