By 1970’s Gooner
I was skeptical enough when two experienced and mature players were allowed to go during the summer. Hleb’s contribution even without goals was phenomenal and Flamini’s all round play was obviously irreplaceable.
Hleb (28) was replaced with Nasri (21) who is a very good player and gets in among the goals but he needs that adjustment time to be able to replace Hleb’s overall contribution.
Flamini was replaced by no one who could step in the first team right away (Ramsey is great but obviously not ready yet) and I for one hoped that Diaby and Song in the absence of a viable experienced alternative would have matured enough to play a big part.
But Diaby has been out injured so the jury is still out on him and Wenger for some reason considers Song a centre or a right back.
So we are less than ten games into the new season and the cracks are beginning to appear. Don’t get fooled by this laboured victory against Everton. A stronger team would not have allowed us to make such an easy come back.
Hull, Fulham and Sunderland didn’t and if the three weaknesses listed below are not corrected there are going to be a few more teams added to that list.
The central defence needs changing
Even when Gallas and Toure were fit and playing Arsenal’s defending in the middle of their area left a lot to be desired.
This became very apparent last season during the tough games against the other big three in the League and also against long ball teams who can play the high direct ball into the middle to a tall and capable forward like Drogba and Davies (of Bolton).
The reason is that Gallas is not the type of central defender who will attack the long ball with force and gusto.
And because Toure’s forte is his pace rather than his heading ability you have two good but similar defenders who do not necessarily complement but rather emulate each other.
Add to that the fact that Gallas is not as quick as he used to be and you have an area in the team that will probably let you down in enough games during a season to cost you priceless points.
Wenger has allowed Senderos to go, has promoted Djourou and brought Silvestre into the squad.
In my opinion this is not good enough. Silvestre looked out of sorts against Everton and even if this could be due to rustiness he does not look the tall and commanding centre back that Arsenal are lacking.
Djourou needs to be given the chance to prove himself but even if he shows that he is up to it with regard to defending the long ball he lacks experience (like so many talented Arsenal squad players) so errors will unavoidably cost you priceless points again.
The other option is Song of course who I think is the most accomplished of the alternatives but as I have written before I am really enthusiastic about his defensive abilities in midfield rather than in central defense.
This is because his height and built do not equip him adequately enough to withstand the rigours of the long ball merchants in the Premier League.
So Arsene Wenger does really need to buy a strong, tall, agile and accomplished central defender to partner Toure.
Otherwise we will be letting in silly goals often from corners and free kicks and then running around like headless chickens (well almost like headless chickens) trying to reverse the situation.
Denilson is not a defensive midfielder
Denilson is a creative midfielder with beautiful skills and high energy levels. But he is obviously not a defensive midfielder and this is as plain for everyone to see. Isn’t it?
Look closely at how Everton’s goal was carved out and you will see they were able to move the ball through the central midfield area around Denilson who was not able to stop them or even contain the move.
A proper defensive midfielder would have been in front of his defence and not behind the Everton attacking midfilders.
If he was in front of his defence he would have been ready to tackle hard or even foul so as to stop the move.
But that is not in his nature and he is obviously not to blame for this as he is not a defencive midfielder.
I can not excuse Wenger for persisting with Denilson.
Ok the natural player for that position is obviously Diaby but as he has been out injured Song should have started a few more games than he did.
My guess is that Wenger will give Diaby his chance (hopefully starting with the next game) and review the situation at the end of season. But if he is not up for it we would have lost more precious points.
There is hardly any strength in depth in the squad
This has been talked about a lot of course but it has got really worse this season! Look at the bench against Everton if you please and you will see mostly kids who we all know are talented but not yet mature or battle ready.
The bench contained players like Vela, Hoyte, Gibbs, Ramsey and Fabiansky.
I ask you who will deputise if Clichy picks up an injury?
Not Traore as he is on a season’s loan at Portsmouth. It will probably be the slow and rusty Silvestre or a player playing out of position like Song or Eboue again.
Song in particular was lacking positional awareness against Everton yesterday who were quick to exploit it with all their good moves and their goal coming from that side of the pitch.
Other positions that lack ready made viable deputies are:
Goalkeeper (Fabiansky is talented but inexperienced in the Premier League).
Central defence (as explained above),
Both central midfield positions (who is really Fabregas’s deputy?),
At least one of the two wide midfield positions
The striker come front man position (is Bendtner ready to be as effective as Adebayor? I am assuming that Eduardo returns unscathed and would be vying with Van Persie for the number 10 position).
Don’t get me wrong, all the “deputies” are very talented exciting players with a very bright future ahead of them.
Players like Bendtner, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere and all the others are going to be gracing the Premier (or some other) League in the future.
But they are a work in progress, like Arsenal Football Club has been under Wenger for the last four years.
Wenger now runs the real danger of imprisoning himself in a football model which could get out of control; where buying more mature players may be seen to infringe on the progress of the young starlets.
This however could end up with Arsenal being a nursery for world class talent who once they get disillusioned by the lack of success re emigrate to other clubs.