Monday, December 29, 2008
Vela makes the difference
By 1970’s Gooner
Arsenal were weak in three important areas against Portsmouth at the Emirates and their inability to break down a well organised defense got the crowd frustrated and sometimes angry.
Tony Adams chose to rest Defoe so that he could play a more defensive formation but Arsenal were so tentative and at times vulnerable that I think that if he had been more adventurous he may have had more joy.
The first of Arsenal’s weaknesses was the lack of creativity in the midfield positions; the second was the lack of co operation between the two forwards and the third concerned the obvious lack of width in the team.
The lack of creativity in midfield was very apparent until Wenger took steps to rectify the problem.
Denilson was his usual self, all running and passing but no real inventiveness. Diaby was once again proving Wenger right in not yet trusting him in the central midfield areas. He was frivolous in possession, kept loosing the ball and turning into blind alleys.
It wasn’t until Nasri was moved into the central areas of midfield that we saw some real creative play with someone trying to organise Arsenal’s game a la Fabregas.
At last we seem to have found a real alternative to Fabregas and I think with more exposure to this position Nasri can play that role really well.
But Nasri’s introduction into the midfield wasn’t enough by itself as the Adebayor Bendtner pairing failed to work once again. It has never worked between those two and I wasn’t surprised it failed on this occasion too.
On the one hand Adebayor looked lethargic all afternoon missing two glorious chances to score. His mind appeared to be elsewhere. Where I wouldn’t like to guess…
On the other hand Bendtner was a nonentity in again another match. Until he was moved to the wing he looked without purpose and I don’t recollect one successful pass he made to Adebayor.
Both of them seemed to be playing individually and did not make any combination play between them nor did they attempt to.
But the real weakness that really proved to be the most important of them all was the lack of width. And as soon that was corrected the whole team picked up and looked purposeful and threatening again.
Bendtner’s move to the wing partially corrected this imbalance and he did provide much needed thrust at first from the left and then from the right.
But when the team was given its other wing, by the introduction of Vela, it began to fly again and then we caught a glimpse of the “old” Arsenal we know.
The one that stretches teams in the wide areas of the pitch, getting by the by line, cutting balls in to oncoming midfielders and creating havoc in the opponent defenders.
It also gave to Arsenal’s central midfielders, as to all teams who have a viable outlet on the wings, the additional option of passing the ball away from the heavily congested midfield.
And Arsenal’s opponents usually do try and put men behind the ball and congest the central areas of the pitch, don’t they?
Vela had a very good game when he came on. He run at the defenders, put the crosses in and generally wakened up a slumbering and almost stuttering team that didn’t look like scoring.
He deserves to keep his place in the team and so does Nasri, in the creative role.