Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Monday, March 10, 2008

Three reasons for Arsenal’s stutter at the JJb give hope for the future

By 1970’s Gooner

You sort of suspected it that when Adebayor missed that chance in the first 45 seconds that this would develop into a nail biter.

Especially when the state of the pitch dictated that taking your first chance when it comes and winning ugly would be the only way to get the three priceless points.

Yet to blame the pitch would only account for a third of the reasons for Arsenal’s third successive league draw.

Really one cannot help but agree with Arsene Wenger’s characterization of the pitch as not fit for professional football. It did hamper the flow of the game by making it more difficult for the players to control the ball and keep the game running.

This obviously made the game slightly slower which suited Wigan rather than Arsenal who rely on quick and precise passing so as not to allow opponents to settle or get bodies behind the ball.

But I would disagree that this is the major reason for Arsenal’s abject display. It did add to it but it didn’t cause it.

The second reason which had more of a bearing on the outcome of the game was the state of the players’ fatigue levels. The monumental effort produced at the San Siro obviously took a lot out of the players who then had to travel again, this time to the dreaded North.

It must be said that the team has been stuttering with loss of form anyway, looking tired in the two previous games where points were dropped against Birmingham and Aston Villa. So this performance at the JJB was really a continuation of the inadequate performances as of late.

The third reason however is equally important. Breaking the Fabregas Flamini partnership was not the best of decisions that Arsene could have made. This had the double negative effect as such decisions often have in football.

First Arsenal’s midfield effectiveness was almost rendered non existent as Flamini couldn’t get the rhythm and passing that by now can produce with his eyes shut when Fabregas is there next to him to receive the ball.

It was not a surprise that Arsenal’s most effective and dangerous moments originated when the little maestro ventured in field to receive the ball and dictate play as only he knows how.

But in addition to missing Fabregas in the central areas of the pitch Gilberto’s impact was not up to standard. He is now a shadow of the player he used to be and more often than not chose to pass the ball backwards or sideways thus slowing the game up even more than the pitch was.

In my preview of the game I put forward the three options that were available for team selection due to the absence of enough wide midfielders.

I thought then that breaking up the Cesc and Flamini partnership was not the way to go but I did suspect that Wenger would play Cesc wide by bringing Gilberto into midfield.

He had after all got success the last time he had to make a similar decision, for the victorious game against Blackburn in the middle of February.

However this was a home game, the team was not coming off the back of an energy sapping performance away in the Champion’s League and more importantly a very early goal as early as the 4th minute was scored (by Senderos) which settled the players and caused the opponents heads to drop.

There was none of that at the JJB.

Yet there is hope after all for the run in for the title. Firstly Robin Van Persie’s return to action is a welcome relief which can prove crucial.

This is not only because he is a formidable forward and goal scorer but he would offer the much needed support that Adebayor needs in the most important areas of the pitch.

Adebayor and Bendtner don’t seem to play well together and it may not only have something to do with their personal differences. I rather suspect that it’s their style of play that doesn’t fit with each other.

They are both the tall and target type of centre forwards and these kind of partnerships are not usually that effective as the players often make the same runs and always need a shorter more agile sidekick next to them to feed off each other.

The return of RVP would add balance to the Arsenal shape and when the need arises for Wenger in future games to find another wide midfielder I hope that he will keep the dynamic duo together.

And I don’t think that we will face the same kind of pitch again!

Wenger’s three options available for team selection at the JJB

Sepp is right, Mourinho is looking for a job and Wenger is a baby snatcher?


Anonymous said...

Old Trafford is not the best of pitches.

The real thing that got me, is that we have no wide players.

Walcott is a forward being played as a winger.

Eboue, the idiot had a three game, ban, and all of those games we have lacked an edge where a wide man would have made the difference.

I say bring through a kid, I mean is Song, Toure, Gilberto and Diaby a wide player? NO, NO, NO.

So perhaps a young kid could come in and do a job for us.

Wenger needs to learn from these mistakes. Quickly as well.

Anonymous said...

Adebayor & Hleb were both very poor. Gilberto is seriously past his sell by date...its not a coincidence that our worst performances of the season have been when he has played. The return of RVP is a major boost for the remainder of the season. Any news on Rosicky ?

Anonymous said...

Adebayor seems to be inconsistent. He need to improve his consistency as soon as possible if he wants to be 1 starting forward for many years to come. Anyway, having Van Perise available is a big plus. Hopefully Rosicky will be avaliable very soon.

Unfortunately, we probably just surrendered the top spot to Man United. The overall performance was pretty pathetic I must say. Worst of all, the confidence of the team could be severely eroded if we failed to win anything this season. Being relatively young is not a valid excuse anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think this game has shown without doubt that Gilberto should never play for Arsenal again. Thank you very much for the service you have given to us and best of luck with your new club.

Anonymous said...

Some of your comments make me LAUGH!!!

Suddenly, again when we dont win, every Arsenal fan becomes a better manager than Arsene....

Yes Gilberto sadly has passed his best and no doubt will leave,

The last few weeks Eboue has been hung drawn and quartered, and now we all want him back.....

We need, Thomas back on the left, Alex on the right, with Theo and Eboue ready to sub, yes Eboue... Only until he is replaced in the summer (wishful thinking!!)

What we need is a good result for us on Sat, Derby to pull a rabbit out the bag and we will all be happy.....

I still believe we will get at least a point at Old Trafford and The Russians place.....

Anonymous said...

Gilberto was a joke in JJB, he is now becoming a liability, I start to fear when I see Gilberto play, the same feeling I used to get when I saw Senderos the last year.

I really can't understand why did AW have to send in Toure as a winger, all he had to was take out Gilberto for Song and then Flamini could have played on the right....

Sometimes AW frustrates me, I really cant see him starting with Gilberto, he knows his current form, why cant he be aggressive to start with RVP and then may be sub him later?

The last three EPL games have been terrible to watch...

Last year I was frustrated because we could win matches and we used to draw, this year its worst... some games we resemble Liverpool !!! There should be more fire.. apart from witnessing Arsenal win at the Sansiro, this year has not been great...