Saturday, April 05, 2008
You are only as good as your bench. Player analysis and ratings Vs Liverpool
By 1970’s Gooner
Arsene Wenger decided to make the changes in order to rest his key players for the Champions League game on Tuesday.
It’s a move that our closest rivals have been making throughout the season and that is one strong reason why Arsenal are stumbling over the finishing line and Manchester United and Chelsea are sprinting over it.
Granted, Arsenal’s squad although high on quality, technique and athleticism is severely lacking in experience and this was a major factor in inhibiting Wenger from bringing in fresh faces throughout this marathon race.
This became more evident when we got our fair share of injuries to key players which forced Wenger to bring in players. Result? We couldn’t replace them with half as good alternatives.
One prime example was Eduardo’s absence; the player coming in? Nicklas Bendtner, good and exciting youngster but not yet ready to step in and make you feel that we will cope. Of course if RVP was available it could have been different.
Rosicky’s absence has not really been filled in adequately. Wenger brought in Eboue who has been abysmal and sometimes Walcott who is exciting but of course inexperienced.
There was a period of three games when both Fabregas and Flamini were out with injuries. Who did we bring in? Two youngsters, Denilson and Diarra and one fading star, Gilberto. We dropped four points, drawing one game (Newcastle) and losing the other one (Middlesbrough).
Need I go on?
So today’s game gave me the feeling that it was a Carling Cup or FA Cup game for Arsenal. I mean fielding Hoyte and Traore in defence, Gilberto and Walcott in midfield and Bendtner in attack meant that Wenger had given up the Premier League and was concentrating on Europe.
On top of that he unbalanced the side by moving Flamini to the left side of midfield which meant that again for the second game running we lacked width. Eboue kept giving the ball away, Flamini couldn’t make any headway on the left and the two young full backs started very nervously.
On top of all that Bendtner was isolated up front with no support coming from midfield as Gilberto was anchoring in front of the defence and Flamini was out wide.
It wasn’t until he started coming in field that this was corrected and chances started to be created culminating in that awful miss by Bendtner when clean through. He did get his goal in the end.
Still all this means that these exciting youthful squad has put in one of a hell of effort this season against all the odds and everyone’s expectations that we would crumple to pieces especially after Henry departed for pastures new.
I feel that the experience gained this season will prove to be the last piece of the building block that Arsene Wenger is putting together for these youngsters education towards the glorious years that undoubtedly will now follow.
But let’s not forget the Champions League. This is not a marathon like the Premier League and if we can get our injured players back (RVP, Sagna and maybe Rosicky) we will have a pretty good chance of upsetting the odds.
Starting with a win against Liverpool at Anfield next Tuesday.
A fantastic save from Crouch in the first few minutes. Assured throughout. 8
Nervous and not match fit. Gave the ball away too often and did not venture forward much. When he did his cross (I think there was only one) was awful. 5
Started nervously but improved greatly as the game wore on. Put in a very good performance both in defence and in attack which was very pleasing. 7
Along with Toure had trouble handling Crouch in the air but who wouldn’t? the mistake was that Crouch’s knock downs were not dealt with adequately. 6
Same as for Gallas. 6
Looked tired to me and maybe Wenger should have subbed him in the closing stages to save him for Tuesday. Even so he was again very influential swinging a beautiful free kick for Bendtner to score. 7
He also tired in the end but he was very energetic till then and was quite influential when he ventured infield. 8
Abysmal again. 4
He is getting better and better and I hope he starts next Tuesday (in place of Eboue if need be). His pace and ability to get passed his man is a tremendous asset to Arsenal now that we need width desperately. 7
Had a good game, much better than his anemic showings as of late. He anchored well and did not put any passes astray like he has been doing recently. 7
Was too isolated in the first half and he should have taken that chance in the first half. But he improved in the second half when support came on and he did start to combine well with those around him. He has the vision to do that which will help him in the future.
Scored a very good headed goal; a kind of goal that we seem to be scoring this season unlike when Henry was around. 7
3 Shots on Target 2
4 Shots off Target 9
3 Blocked Shots 3
5 Corners 3
10 Fouls 10
0 Offsides 1
1 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
85.5 Passing Success 76.4
26 Tackles 36
84.6 Tackles Success 75
56.3 Possession 43.7
47.8 Territorial Advantage 52.2