By 1970’s Gooner
There were three negative and one positive aspect that were very apparent during yesterday’s uncharacteristically limp encounter against Bolton.
The first was the lack of creativeness and ingenuity
This was also apparent during the Portsmouth game which we also won in similar fashion (1 0 to the Arsenal). Portsmouth was also not very ambitious and paid for it by conceding late on under the pressure that inevitably mounted in the latter stages of the second half.
In both games Wenger had to switch a creative player in the middle and I think that is what eventually brought dividends.
Nasri was the player that brought this balance and creativeness and it is so obvious to me that he is the real alternative to Fabregas.
He should start games in the middle, not moved there when things are not working.
Against other more positive teams or when we play in more hostile surroundings eg away from home I fear we will struggle, really struggle.
The second but related point is the fact that the team lack tempo
Certainly in the first half the pace of the game was slow and a reason for this is because the midfield players are not driving forward with the ball. They were most of the time passing sideways and sideways and boring us to death.
When Nasri came into the middle he had drive and did move with the ball forward thus rendering opponents out of the game (just like Fabregas used to do) and therefore helping to decongest the space and create the chances that eventually came, culminating in Van Persie’s delightful cross for the otherwise ineffective Bendtner.
Until Fabregas comes back or even if he ever leaves Arsenal then I am not worried. I am convinced Nasri is that good.
This brings us to the third point which is the obvious lack of width in the team
I have gone on about this a lot this season and I think if this is corrected along with Nasri being moved into the middle then we will go a long way in correcting a major imbalance in Arsenal’s formation.
Let me repeat why width is particularly important for a team like Arsenal.
Most teams defend deep, putting 10 men behind the ball, closing the space and the route through the middle.
The best way to beat them is to stretch them by widening the pitch through the use of the wide midfielders or what I would call the old fashioned wingers. My favourite from the 70’s was Geordie Armstrong who would have been ideal for this Arsenal team.
At the moment Wenger’s stubborn refusal to play Vela form the off is almost suicidal in my opinion.
He is ready for it, he has shown that when he comes on he can stretch the game.
And his presence from the off will allow Wenger to switch Nasri to the middle.
It’s a win win situation really.
The one positive aspect that has been apparent in this seven game unbeaten run is that the defence has tightened up
One major factor has been the welcomed emergence of Djourou who has provided what the defence needed. Height and along with it attacking the high balls. I think he will be our centre back for a long time to come.
So we have not been playing well but we have hang on in there. If Arsene twigs a little bit more with the choice of personnel, adds more creativity and width in the team and Eduardo makes a successful return then we might be in there with a shout in the run in for the title.
Especially if Chelsea and Manchester United drop points when they meet today…