Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Arsenal’s average age was 22 1/2. Player ratings and analysis Vs Villareal
By 1970’s Gooner
It was very obvious what was wrong with Arsenal in the first half of this Champion’s League Quarter Final against the yellow submarines.
The 4 2 3 1 formation adopted against Manchester City was not good enough to counter a skilled and determined Villareal side. The reason it worked against Manchester City was because they are an awful team especially away from home.
Tonight against Villareal, Fabregas was not playing in his familiar role in the heart of the midfield which meant that he was lost in no man’s land between Adebayor and the two Arsenal midfielders, Denilson and Song.
The result was a double negative (as is often in football). First we lost the creativeness that the team thrives on and secondly Adebayor was starved of any support up front.
Add to this tactical weakness the fact that Song and Denilson were defending too deep in front of the back four and you have a huge gap in the middle areas of the pitch which Villareal exploited to the full.
Their goal was scored because Denilson positioned himself too deep to be able to thwart Senna from taking his shot without any harassment.
In the second half one of these weaknesses was corrected. Denilson and Song began to compete for the ball in the more forward areas of the pitch thus pushing Arsenal much forward than before.
They also became much more competitive and combative which resulted in Villareal being confronted with resistance in their own half. This allowed Fabregas to receive the ball in more dangerous positions and thus take the game to Villareal.
Both Adebayor and Fabregas need at least two more games to find fitness as they both looked short. Nevertheless two brilliant acts from each resulted in the goal.
Fabregas’s long range pass uncharacteristically found Adebayor on side and inside the area. He stopped the ball with his chest and jumping backwards completed an overhead kick which stunned the Villareal goalkeeper into inaction.
A quite brilliant goal.
Arsenal ended the game with an average age of the players on the field of about 22 1/2.
It showed in the second half as Villareal couldn’t cope with the high tempo and fast attacking game that Arsenal adopted. It is this type of approach that will be needed from now on if we are to progress further in this competition.
Couldn’t do much about that Senna goal. Otherwise his covering outside the area was quite good though he got injured in the act. 7
I was impressed with Lucas. He came out to collect the high balls with ease and made a brilliant follow up save in his near post early when he came on. I feel safe with him in the goals if Almunia cannot play on Saturday against Wigan. 8
It was from a corner when both he and Kolo allowed the ball to bounce in front of Almunia with Clichy clearing off the line. Otherwise strong and authoritative. 7
Was quite solid, strong and took up the leadership role well when Gallas had to go off. Also went forward with the ball and provided a real threat when he did so. 8
Slotted with ease next to Kolo. Did not have a lot to do as Arsenal pressed forward for three quarters of the second half but in the last ten minutes defended well. 7
Back to near his best. Good at defending and purposeful going forward. 8
Very good at his defensive duties but needs to spend more time on the training ground practicing his crosses. 7
Sat too deep in the first half and was unable to stop the opponents from using the space in front of him. Improved his competitiveness in the second and won many tackles. 7
He is getting better and better with each game. Was able to win the ball, control it and pass it even when under pressure. 8
Was the only shining light of the first half.
His pace posed real problems and Arsenal’s only penetration came from him. Pitty Adebayor was alone up front and Fabregas was too far away to exploit his balls into the area.
I was surprised that Wenger took him off to replace him with Eboue who was anonymous. Walcott was our only chance of getting a second goal late in the game but may be Wenger wanted to shore up the draw. 8
Was disappointing. He posed no real threat nor was he able to come infield and help Fabregas run the game. 6
Looked tired but he still produced an amazing assist for Adebayor’s goal. It is now three assists for Arsenal’s last three goals form the little maestro. 8
Looked lethargic again until he scored that goal which seemed to breathe into him new found enthusiasm. He needs more games to find fitness but nevertheless it is three goals in his last two games for Arsenal. God knows what he can achieve when he finds fitness! 8
Man of the Match: Adebayor, give him the ball and he will score….