Thursday, April 30, 2009
Where is the hunger in this Arsenal team?
By Akbar Ghaffar
From the moment the match finished I just could not stop but have this thought circling around in my head continuously:
Where is the hunger? Where is the hunger?Where is the hunger?
I read all Wenger's pre-match statements "my team is ready", "it is our year" and so on but I did not see the hunger to win the match at any point.
What has been lacking in the Arsenal squad for years is not experience, not players leaving, but HUNGER to win.
If you are playing in a semi-final you cannot just go out there and be rattled, lost all over the pitch and run around like a headless chicken.
But that is what I saw.
And it is not the first time mind you. But come to think of it, if Arshavin was not on the pitch at Anfield, Liverpool would have also slaughtered us. It is just those fabulous 4 shots that kept us in the game, otherwise WE WERE PATHETIC.
Liverpool took us on a roller coaster ride right from the first minute (like United did). The stamina, the hunger to run and win the ball, the desire of every player to come back and then go forward again (even Torres) and to collectively defend was amazing.
It is such desire that wins balls, puts the opposition under pressure out of which corners, throw ins and their rhythm is broken. What a team needs to be is ruthless in everything and have undefined energy to keep the opposition on their toes.
Sadly I have not seen that in Arsenal for a long time.
What Arsenal needs the most is players who can create this energy with an attitude that says: "this is where we stand, we will die on the pitch if we have to".
It is evident how the physical attributes were missing last night. And by that I mean to at least really get into a player and stop his pass, cross or shot. Or jump and try to block a cross. Song did it last night but that's just about it. No one else!
Have you ever seen any Arsenal player really jumping and trying to at least cut a cross in midfield as such? I have yet to see that. Many of the crosses thrown into our box are because our left/right backs don’t really get into a player to block his cross, they wait, wait and just wait…..
I think Arsenal has to be ruthless and have passionate, in fact very passionate players, with a lot of energy because this really affects the psyche of the opposition and puts them under pressure leading to errors.
I have to admit that being positive is always better but what I am describing above is what makes the difference between a winning team and a mere runner up (remember the Liverpool - Milan CL final 3 - 3?).
Apart from that we need a tall holding midfielder and at least one tall defender to partner Toure who can get some headed goals for us and of course cut out the aerial threat.
What Wenger has also not yet realised is that having a good dead ball specialist in the team can take us from a semi to a final, yes it counts a lot.
Ronaldinho, Juninho and Ronaldo have scored or assisted a lot of crucial goals from their free kicks and we have none of that. United have won ten 1 - 0 matches and some are thanks to a free kick or a resulting header.
I think its about time Wenger changes his tune and injects some enthusiasm and hunger in his players to be ruthless and really scare the hell out of the opposition.
That is what champions do and I really hope that this prayer comes to life before the 2nd leg…..