Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wenger’s three options for replacing Eduardo

By 1970’s Gooner

Obviously with Eduardo's injury Wenger cannot now go and buy another forward since the window is of course closed.

And I would not bank my money on it that he would have done so even if the window was open.

The fact remains however that Arsene’s options are now limited especially with the run in to the title gathering momentum with only a dozen or so games left.

It was also a great pity since Eduardo was beginning to put in some awesome performances showing that he has adjusted to the Premiership at double the pace that is normally expected for foreign players.

He was also very important as Robin Van Persie, the great hope for all of us Arsenal fans, became unavailable for so long.

So much so that Arsene Wenger would have had a real problem to leave any one of Adebayor, RVP and Eduardo out of the first eleven on RVP’s return.

Now he is left with only three recognised forwards in his squad one of which is near returning but probably a few more weeks away. As Wenger said:

"At the moment Robin is close to returning to the squad training next week. But he will be short for the second leg in Milan because he has not really played for five months”.

This means that RVP will most likely come back, if all goes well, for the game against Wigan away on Sunday 9th of March. He will miss the Aston Villa game next Saturday and the midweek Champions League game at Milan.

However it may prove to be rather risky to rush RVP back too soon especially when taking into account what happened only recently with his last comeback.

Indeed it may be wise for Wenger to choose to introduce him gradually into the fold which means that he may not be able to start games for another three to four weeks.

So Arsene Wenger has to make a decision as to who will partner Adebayor for the intervening period however long that will prove to be.

His options are somewhat limited but depending on what he chooses he will, by default, choose the formation and therefore the tactical way that Arsenal will play.

There are only three available options in Bendtner, Walcott and Hleb.

Bendtner is probably the more orthodox forward of the three.

He has been playing in that position recently either as a substitute or starting there in the Cup games.

He is however still learning his trade and more importantly is a very similar type of player to Adebayor.

Walcott has just started coming into form at the right time.

His five minutes at the end against Milan nearly gifted a goal to Adebayor.

He carried that form into the Birmingham game scoring his first Premiership goals for Arsenal.

The first, a real poacher’s goal taking advantage of a loose ball in the area and the second after a run at the Birmingham defense and a shot from outside the area.

Walcott, unlike Bendtner, is a more appropriate forward to play along side Adebayor.

He has a low centre of gravity and as such is quick and agile. He can also be more dangerous by taking advantage of any knock downs and interplay with a tall and strong centre forward.

Walcott however has shown that he has to improve his effectiveness when he is playing with his back to the defender marking him especially his ball control skills. And also what holds for Bendtner’s relative inexperience holds for Walcott.

Hleb is the more likely option for Wenger. He has been in excellent form this season and more importantly has played in that position for Arsenal at the beginning of the season with a lot of success.

This is not a surprise as that is where he was deployed in the German league for Stuttgart prior to his transfer to Arsenal.

His deployment as a forward just behind Adebayor will mean that Arsenal will likely revert from a 4 4 2 formation to the 4 4 1 1 come 4 5 1 formation. This is because Hleb is more of a playmaker than an attacking forward as RVP is for example.

What is also important is that Adebayor is not left isolated up front as tended to happen earlier in the season when Hleb was moved infield.

For more on this see my posting: Arsenal’s Formula One Car Cannot Run With The Handbreak On. A Critique

Hleb’s likely move into the more central areas of the pitch make it more imperative that Rosicky returns to full fitness so as to fill the gap left, especially now Eboue will be absent for another two league games ( he will however be available for the Milan fixture).

Wenger was looking forward to Rosicky and Diaby coming back even before Eduardo's injury as they would be important for the wide midfield positions. He recenly said:

“....I must say as well I would like Diaby back…….."And I would like Rosicky back too because, in games like Wednesday night (Ed: against Milan), he would have been important."

Now it is even more imperative they come back very quickly.

Media, coaches and referees are to blame for career threatening tackles


Anonymous said...

hleb or walcott could not feasibly play upfront until we get rosicky, diaby and/or eboue back because we would be short on the wing. it looks like our only option for villa will be bendtner ade upfront with hleb and walcott on the wings. in milan we can play ade and walcott upfront with hleb and eboue on the wings.

Anonymous said...

I say go for Walcott. His recent form has shown remarkable improvement, and he plays with a sense of maturity now. Who knows? Maybe this would be what he needs; a decent run in the team to get some more form under his belt.

No to Bendtner, because of what happened with Adebayor. Everyone has said that they're over it, but from what we saw against Birmingham, there is still something festering. I do think that this needs to be sorted out ASAP, for the good of the team though because it can become more of a probem with dissent in the ranks.

Finally, no to Hleb because of two reasons. Firstly, when we played Hleb behind Adebayor, it was still effectively a lone striker; see the match against Man Utd. Adebayor was left without support up front, and that was a key reason, I feel, that we didn't win that game and were lucky to draw. The second reason is that Hleb is doing very well on the left. In fact, he, more than Rosicky, reminds me of Pires when I see the two play. Of course, I think he needs to sort out that mental block with shooting. I mean, we've seen what he's capable of, look at the Blackburn and Birmingham matches. His shots were a real handful for both keepers.

Of course, I think we do need to buy another striker in the summer. Also, and I may be lambasted for this, but should Van Persie's injury problems continue, I'm sad to say that we may have to consider selling him. He's been a real standout player for me, when he's fit, which is a rare thing as of late. I hear we are continuously linked with Martins, and I think he would be a great buy, a good partner and foil for Adebayor. Of course, perhaps we won't need to buy with Vela coming back. I'm very excited at the prospect of seeing him play after catching glimpses and hearing lots of praise for his exploits at Osasuna.

Anonymous said...

Blimey mate! You are brave publishing an article on 'replacing Eduardo'.

Sue Mott wrote a piece in the Telegraph defending Wenger, by pointing out that the media were quick to publish Wenger's comments about Taylor being banned for life but then neglected to publish his retraction at all, because it took away their opportunity to have a go at him. She used a little irony, by suggesting that the journalists might claim that 'they didn't see it!'

There was a long list of comments from people threatening to torch her house, eat her cats and string her up from the nearest tree, because she dared to use a little humour when talking about Eduardo.

So, I fear your life is at severe risk for suggesting that he can be replaced.

Anonymous said...

I think he means 'replace him for the forthcoming games' - since he cannot play.

Wenger cannot 'buy' a replacement now anyway.

Hopefully Benzema comes in the Summer (lots of players say they will only move to Italy or Spain, only to say YES to the first $$$$$$ offer from the Prem)

Anonymous said...

We need Hleb in midfield more than in attack. Without Rocky back, we have no chance playing Hleb anywhere else than midfield.

Wenger will chose Bendtner or Walcott based on who we meet and how the two perform in training and marches.

I dont think any of them is first choice right now. Both can be interesting to see against Milan.

Anonymous said...

Call me blasphemous but Adebayor is the serious problem for our title run. I cannot count the number of offsides and poor decisions in the box that have broken up our attack. I wish we could merge him with Bendtner who has the ball and decision skills but lacks the stature. I don't like them together and Hleb will not shoot so we Theo to partner Abebayor.

Anonymous said...

In the absence of Rosicky if Hleb plays off Ade up front then this leaves us with left midfield to fill, presumably that would be THeo, with Eboue wide right.

Anonymous said...

Its a shame that we cant recall Carlos Vela since he has been playing very well for Osasuna. Dont know if anyone saw the highlights of their game over the weekend but he played very well and would compliment Adebayor perfectly.
No doubt we could bring him back but I imagine that Wenger wouldnt do so because he wouldnt feel it fair on Osasuna.
Given the situation I would go for Walcott. It is dreadful what has happened to Eduardo but in his absense perhaps Walcott will be able to show us what he can do. Plus we are short in midfield anyway so need Hleb back there!

Anonymous said...

Theo Walcott won't be played up front as long as we're short of a right winger. When that luxury becomes available either by Rosicky, Diaby or Eboue returning, he's the man.

For now Bendtner will have to prove he's a true gunner and score/create goals, we all know he's capable of it.

RVP, Rosicky and Diaby will be back soon. The whole team is capable of scoring goals, Arsenal have proved they're not a one man outfit so I'm confident they'll be able to re-surge to the form of old.

Arsenal v Villa

Prediction = 1-0, home win.

Arsenal need to rely on defence more than ever which will be uncharacteristic for a team designed to attack, but some low scoring wins in March will satisfy
fans I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Great articles 1970's, I read them all, but have no time lately to leave comments. It seems that harsh times have come to Arsenal, kind of what ManUre was going through at the start of the season. Our hope for the "plural for trophies" is not over yet and still in our hands, that's the most important thing at the moment. It all seemed hunky-dory for a while, and now a string of bad results threatens young lads' confidence. One thing is for sure though, a team, especially a young one, can't perform without the full support of the fans. That's where we come in. Godspeed to all of you my fellow Gooners.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Boris. Great to hear from you again. Wise words. Keep well

Anonymous said...

Just remeber that when Hleb plays behind Ade he tends to stifle Cesc

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous at 5.35pm.

We should play an attack of Bendtner AND Walcott.

Let Adebayor know that he'll be punished for making stupid decisions and requirind 116 shots for his 19 goals.

Anonymous said...

Walcott? Are you fairweather fans mad? Has one good game and all of a sudden we should bank on him? I think you're all mad. He's a sub. Hleb with Adebayor will be great.

Anonymous said...

Walcott's game depends on confidence. When confidence is high, he wants the ball and he wants to run at players. When confidence is low, he resembles bambi on ice.

Given that Walcott scored twice on Sat, (that coming on the back of an extremely impressive cameo against AC Milan,) it would be folly in the extreme for Wenger to bench him against Villa.

I don't think he is physically up to the challenge of taking on Martin Lausen and Curtis Davies so for Sat, I would like to see Ade and Bendy starting up front together.

Theo should be encouraged to cut inside and take up goalscoring positions as often as possible.

Bouma will be an excellent test for Theo. He's big, strong and a good defender but Theo's turning circle and pace can cause him problems.

In the mean time, Wenger needs to remind Adebayor (again) of the dangers of becoming too obsessed with scoring goals.

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