all enquiries to:

Monday, 11 September 2006

Bottom Of The League! Surely Some Mistake?

Gary Lineker was ‘havin a larf’ describing our encounter as “end to end stuff” on Match of the Day. End to halfway-line, more like! I’m pretty sure Lehmann only touched the ball twice in the second-half and both of those were back passes! In fact I’m looking forward to our trip to Old Trafford next week, as win, lose or draw, at least it will be a proper contest, as opposed to the sort of ‘hit and run’ tactics we’ve fallen victim to in our first 3 outings.

Boro scored with just about their only attack of the game. Gallas switched off and allowed Morrison to ghost inside him. However it’s a bit harsh to blame the Frenchman’s lapse in concentration. He’s bound to lack some sharpness, considering how little game-time he’s had. It’s our reaction to going a goal down which bothers me. 17 attempts on Schwarzer’s goal proves we’ve no shortage of the ability required to create chances. But our recent bad form is the harbinger of the lack of belief and confidence that prevents us from capitalising on all our entertaining efforts.

Arsène’s excuses won’t really wash, as all the top teams’ players have been traipsing across the continent for penny-ante Internationals. Obviously highlights can be misleading, but even without Wayne, one gets a feeling that Man Utd might score with almost every attack. Whereas we show a reluctance to take responsibility in front of goal that’s symptomatic of players who’ve been struggling to find the back of the net.

Apparently Rosicky has impressed his teammates in training and Saturday’s 20-minute cameo was cause for optimism. At least he was more direct. Sending on the diminutive Czech and the chunky Baptista, in a triple substitution, certainly raised the temperature and resulted in some added impetus. But it didn’t really offer us a different dimension, just more of the same. With Henry having mislaid the packing case containing his sparkle, in the move to our new home, I find it hard to imagine any of our players displaying the strength of personality to grab a game like this by the scruff of the neck, determined to demonstrate to the rest how it’s done.

I’d easily be able to pay for our season tickets, if I’d a pound for every time Gooner talk has turned to our lack of a Plan B. We appear conditioned to cutting in from the flanks and ploughing a path through the heart of the opposition’s defence with our pretty passing patterns.

Woodgate and co’s doughty defensive performance deserved some plaudits. But for the most part our predictability left Boro looking comfortable, playing with their backs to their keeper, rarely being turned and required to intervene whilst running towards their own goal

It’s hard to recall many instances when we’ve stretched defences in matches thus far. In truth, while affording the opposition the opportunity to get so many men behind the ball, it’s testament to our prodigious ability that we still continue to create so many scoring chances.

It was always going to take time for us to feel at home at the new gaff, but freed from the tight confines of Highbury’s narrow turf, to my mind the principal advantage of the move, was the prospect of being able to make the most of an additional 13,000 sq.ft. of playing surface, by exposing the opposition with our pace.

At least Wenger is aware of our patently obvious failure to exploit this extra space. Thus it’s weird he didn’t address the lack of a natural winger in our entire squad during the transfer window. Strange also that the one player capable of burning full-backs down the flanks, with speed to spare, wasn’t even on the bench on Saturday. I know Wenger is being cautious about Walcott’s development, but as a teenager, I recall playing twice in the same day. So two games in a week should be a doddle for someone with Theo’s youthful energy.

With his versatility and experience Gallas knows what’s expected of a full-back, but it’s hardly second nature for a centre-half to be flying down the flanks. As a result Eboué is the only player offering natural width. Until Rosicky appeared, the young Ivorian was also the only Arsenal player to cause Boro some concern by running with the ball, eventually drawing the foul which resulted in the spot-kick and Henry’s equaliser.

Buoyed by the new arrivals, I was hoping for success against Boro, as a springboard for our Champions League campaign. It makes life so much easier if you can get off to a good start in the first phase. A couple of wins under the belt and you are almost home and hosed. However after our tri p to Hamburg, we face a home match against Porto, followed by a long schlep to Moscow. Unless we can mirror the miracle of last season, where our European form was in complete contrast to our inconsistent Premiership performances, it’s hard to see any of these games as a guaranteed three points.

You can be sure our European opponents will have been studying tapes of our recent matches, in order to try and repeat the same formula for frustrating the hell out of us. We can but pray Andy Gray’s prediction on Sky proves correct, sooner rather than later and that Hamburg are the first of many to get a good hiding from the Gunners. Albeit based on our depressing efforts to date, I’ll be glad to bring any sort of result back from Germany.

Mercifully things could be a lot worse. At half-time on Saturday the traumatic spectre loomed of travelling to Old Trafford as a total laughing stock, rock bottom of the league. But no matter how we fare on the pitch, I am pleased to support a club capable of retaining some dignity, in such a sordid, gossip driven age. Whereas all but the most blinkered Blues fans appear to have been embarrassed by the antics of Chelsea’s press office. With regard to Gallas’ threats to give a game away, if everything we said in the heat of the moment was misconstrued as fact, then I for one would have long since been locked up, to prevent me committing all the murder and mayhem I must’ve promised over the years.

I was also amused by my miffed Chelsea colleague’s karaoke offering from the Human League last week. It’s ironic that she’s annoyed by Gallas’ apparent ingratitude, when you consider that Ashley Cole has unleashed his scathing attack, on the club that nurtured him since he was nine! Moreover we’d be in almost constant mourning, if we were to take it to heart every time one of Wengers protégés followed the filthy lucre, when if it wasn’t for Le Prof their careers might well have passed them by. And as for her “Library” snipe, it certainly wasn’t our new kettle of a stadium that match commentators described as “totally silent” on Saturday, but the increasingly black pot that is Stamford Bridge!


e-mail to: LondonN5@gmail.com

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article.

Something no one has mentioned yet though, ANYWHERE:

"ARSENAL HAVE NOT SCORED THE FIRST GOAL IN ANY GAME SO FAR THIS SEASON; APART FROM AGAINST DYNAMO ZAGREB. WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT GAME? WE DESTROYED THEM. IF WE GET THE FIRST GOAL AND THE OPPOSING TEAM HAS TO COME OUT, WATCH US DESTROY THEM. THEY CAN'T PUT 11 BEHIND THE BALL THEN CAN THEY? IF WE GET THE FIRST GOAL AGAINST MAN U (AND THAT IS A BIG IF) I GUARANTEE YOU WE WILL KILL THE GAME QUICKLY BECAUSE THEY WILL ATTACK DILLIGENTLY.

Borehamwood Gooner said...

The problem is the defence goes to sleep too often and that is where the goals get scored against us.

The forwards need to take their chances better, a bit more width should stretch the opposing defenders, leading too more room and better chances.

Also Henry is not that sharp, he should not be playing 90 mins at the moment.

The Gun said...

For me, one of the main problems stems from our defensive set-up. Despite Wenger's insistence to the contrary, a youth/reserve team player won't cry if you leave him out of the starting line-up (we are the Arsenal after all, not Kettering Town). I would've gone for the tried and tested formula of last season in Europe, except with Gallas replacing Senderos. Flamini should've been given the nod at left back, if at least to help us remain solid.

We have so many options going forward that we don't need full backs to be bombing forward all the time, I mean, when was the last time Cole or Clichy created a goal from their overlaps?

Also, Wenger cannot be scared to put on his new players. I would certainly have played Rosicky from the start ahead of either the sluggish Hleb or the leaden-footed Ljungberg.

Oh Gad, I have so much to say on Wenger, his new players, his tactics, his favourites, etc but I just don't have the time to write about it and, quite frankly, the thought of it upsets me.

Anonymous said...

The mistake was selling Reyes and not replacing him with Ribery, it was a stupid thing to do.Also Rosicky for all the telent he has got is best in Cesc's position though he can also play left but is NOT a winger! Ljungberg is finished as a wide player and we are lacking the balance in our attack from the left. Let us just hope Walcott can get into the team soon to offer some penetration...

Gelbs said...

Don't worry TheGun. I'll say it for you;

I wasn’t going to post but I thought “fuck it.” All I will say are a few things. Wenger doesn’t wake up and vary his tactics, we will never win another league title under him. He does not know. All the average teams are getting better and we are staying on the same level, or declining. Wenger has lost it. How many top class managers do you see sitting in the dugout with his head in his hands acting all hard done by and not encouraging his players on? None. Could you imagine Alex or Jose doing such things? What kind of mentality does that have on a player looking across?! A weak manager who only stands up when he has to argue against a referee decision or when Arsenal score, a manager who throws his arms in the air like a windmill like a kid having a tantrum, and a captain who sulks and only praises and looks influencial when his side are winning.
Sure Arsenal aren’t playing too bad like in the first half. But it is STILL the same old shit. I have been going on for months about Wenger and Arsenal and was always slated. More it was to do with Wenger not strengthening. And we would never of had if Cole and Reyes wanted to stay and we still of needed Baptista and Gallas! Wenger had no choice. Either way, I still doubted Wenger and his actions. The guy has done wonders, but he has taken Arsenal as far as he can. As someone else said. He is no Sir Alex! Yet the Arsenal board want to consider giving him a new contract. Why?! Let his contract run out and see where he has taken Arsenal in 2008. If we finish 4th and nothing won. Why should Wenger stay? It is like England. We have the players but that isn’t good enough alone if you have poor tactics and play the wrong players/team. Arsenal board seem to think they owe everything to Wenger and he is indespensable. Yes we owe him, make him a director, but a manager still? The doubts have been there since last season. Same shit happening all over. Sure Arsenal will get better and improve. But in the long run? Gonna be a depressing old season unless he sorts his fucking ideas out.

P.S. Remember all the people who were happy with Arsenal finishing 4th for the next 2 seasons because “We would win the title after that”? You lot shouldn’t be complaining as to finish 4th, you need to drop points. You should be happy if this is what you wanted.

The Gun said...

Oooofff, ok, I've got a second wind now that I've had some Earl Gray and a minging cheese croissant.

The reasons for my displeasure are manifold but nevermind, I'll start writing and see where it gets me.

1) The new surface: Having know for years what the dimensions of the new pitch were going to be, you'd have thought Arsenal would resize the training pitches accordingly over the summer in order for the players to get used to it. Blaming the bigger pitch for any fitness, technical or other deficiencies is a cop-out and not admissible in a court of law. Verdict: Objection sustained.

2) The final ball into Henry has vanished: Gone are Reyes, Pires and Bergkamp, providers of over 75% of henry's goals over the past few seasons (this is off the top of my head but highly likely). They have been replaced by Rosicky, Baptista and Walcott, yet how many of those started the match on Saturday...or any other for that matter? Instead, Wenger was hoping to the creative spark would come from a clapped-out Freddie and a class central midfielder shunted out to the wing in order to accommodate a 19yr old. These creative players need to play either a) more often and from the start or b) in their natural positions. Signing class acts like Rosicky, Helb and Baptista and forcing them out onto the wings to make room for Cesc is negligant in the extreme. It would be like Man Utd signing Torres but putting him on the wing to make room for Rossi - pointless.

3) Given our lack of width, why start a game with our 2 slowest midfielders out of position on the wings? Freddie and Hleb should only start bruising away games as starters, otherwise, they must be separated or dropped.

4) Wenger's favourites and his personal crusade: Note to Arsene - "Cesc is allowed a rest once in a while and doesn't have to play every game". Another note to Arsene - "Djourou won't slap in a transfer request if you replace him at CB for World Cup finalist William Gallas". And having helped to take the team to the CL final, Flamini is well entitled to a place at LB.

5) Formation: Wenger still hasn't understood that the early part of the season is about damage limitation for the poorer sides. That means they will put 5 in
midfield and have 11 behind the ball at most times, yet Wenger insists on playing 4-4-2 with a lightweight midfield of Cesc and Gilberto. He should consider playing 4-3-3/4-5-1 to make the most of the abundance of good
midfielders he has. No point in thinking your 2 centre-mids are going to automatically outplay 3 central opponents just because we're Arsenal. Baptista, Cesc and Gilberto in the middle would've done better against Rochemback, Boateng and Euell than Cesc and Gilberto alone. I also think Rosicky and van Persie should be given jobs such as they play for their countries, i.e. free-floating
off the front man. Moral: Square pegs in round holes DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK just because you're name's Arsene Wenger, so please accept that when you buy a player who's awesome at, say dribbling, that shouldn't be your cue to play him in goal.

6) Despite all my mad, cheese-induced ramblings, I still think it's far too early to panic, especially considering our new players have hardly had any time to bed in and get to know their teammates. Having said that, It doesn't seem like Man Utd, Chelsea, Everton and Pompey are having any problems getting into the swing of things, so let's snap out of it, stop feeling sorry for ourselves and start picking up some points.

Gooneropolos said...

I've figured out our problem: Hleb is a great player, especially in Europe, but I increasingly get the feeling that he throws the Arsenal attack completely off, with his multiple touches, and circuitous dribbles. We used to have a brilliant, lightening-quick counter-attack that capitalized on the pace of TH and others. The flow of the attack through Bob or Paddy was always more direct and incisive. Of course we can moan about playing against packed defences, but surely part of the problem is the fact that we allow defences the time to get packed, when guys like Hleb dribble the ball ad infinitum, or when Gilberto fails to make an accurate forward pass. In effect, we are neutralizing the most potent dimension (speed) of our most potent player (Henry). Ive been thrilled to see Eboue take on and skin defenders down our right flank, only to be gutted when he delivers the final ball into row Z. Surely this is something that AW & staff must be working with him on, because if he gets that part of his game right, he'll be one of the best RBs around, and Arsenal will be scoring a lot more. Ok I've rambled enough.

lc said...

Gelbs, you're right.
Remember, two weeks ago, we had to lunch some nasty criticisms here on Redsblog before AW gives Walcott a chance to play for the first squad. I really don't understand his tactics and how he is so much in favour of some players who lack sharpness at the moment. Th14, Freddy and Fabregas are not that sharp, although I don't mind he plays Fabregas in CL.
I can understand that Reyes had to go; but what I can't understand is leaving Walcott on bunch and playing a 'finihed' Freddy(floppy).
Walcott is the only player left who can accelerate our game up front, like Reyes used to do. TH14 and Freddy should be left on the bunch if they don't perform well as other paye the same price week in, week out.
We beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 without Th14 and RVP was 'deadly'up front, with other lads happy to play for each other. Then when TH14 starts, things look disconnected up front, despite Hleb and Eboue hard work. Th14 is always expecting a fine pass without he makes some efforts to ajust things by running toward the ball.
My team selection for CL an against Manu:

Keeper: Lehman.

Defense: Eboue-Toure-Gallas-Flamini(or Djourou).

Holding Midfield: Hleb-Gilberto.

Offensive midfield: Battista-Rosicky(or Walcott).

Attack: TH14-Adebayor(or RVP).

4-2-2-2.

or

Eboue-Toure-Gallas-Djourou.

Hleb-Gilberto-Flamini(or Hleb-Gilberto-Rosicky).

TH14-Fabregas-Battista(or RVP-Battista-Walcott).

Gelbs said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gelbs said...

Yep I remember. Although it was longer than 2 weeks ago. The reason Wenger bought Walcott on was because he was desperate and didn't have players like Rosicky ready or fit etc. Now he has Baptista and everyone is fit, Walcott isn't being given a chance. What makes me laugh is how Wenger says Walcott needs a rest. What a load of shit. Okay, maybe he isn't properly fit. But he is just as fit as ppl like Henry and Hleb, maybe even more so.
Plus Fabregas is still over-rated. What has he done lately? Nothing.

lc said...

Gelbs, things that need to be done to get the team on winning path are the followings:

1-AW needs to play an important role on the touch line by motivating the players and not sitting down all the time on bunch like his country man Henry Michel.
The only time we see him on the touch line is when his moaning at the referee.

2-Gallas should be given the arm-band, as he looks to me a true leader to take Arsenal forward. Th14 is moaning too much at his team mates on the pitch and in my opinion, he is not a natural leader. His role of being the team captain seems to unsetle him, as he feels directly gilty when we are not doing well.

3-AW's mechanic habit of waiting beyong the 60 minutes before making any decent change is not helpful, as the players coming from the banch have little time left to make a real impact to change the result, as we have been experiencing it at the moment.

4-AW needs some time to take though decisions against players like TH14 by taking him off if he doesn't perform well as he should, so that other don't feel any injustice somewhere.

5-The board must get involved more in a new player transfer, as in my opinion, AW has been buying a lot of physically unfit(skinny)players, although I have no doubt their quality. We need some more tougher players.

But I am optimistic that things are going to work for us.
Gallas should play centre back and Flamini left back or Djourou left back if Flamini doesn't want to play there.
Fabregas should be given some rests and give Walcott a chance to start.

lc said...

Gelbs, things that need to be done to get the team on winning path are the followings:

1-AW needs to play an important role on the touch line by motivating the players and not sitting down all the time on bunch like his country man Henry Michel.
The only time we see him on the touch line is when his moaning at the referee.

2-Gallas should be given the arm-band, as he looks to me a true leader to take Arsenal forward. Th14 is moaning too much at his team mates on the pitch and in my opinion, he is not a natural leader. His role of being the team captain seems to unsetle him, as he feels directly gilty when we are not doing well.

3-AW's mechanic habit of waiting beyong the 60 minutes before making any decent change is not helpful, as the players coming from the banch have little time left to make a real impact to change the result, as we have been experiencing it at the moment.

4-AW needs some time to take though decisions against players like TH14 by taking him off if he doesn't perform well as he should, so that other don't feel any injustice somewhere.

5-The board must get involved more in a new player transfer, as in my opinion, AW has been buying a lot of physically unfit(skinny)players, although I have no doubt their quality. We need some more tougher players.

But I am optimistic that things are going to work for us.
Gallas should play centre back and Flamini left back or Djourou left back if Flamini doesn't want to play there.
Fabregas should be given some rests and give Walcott a chance to start.

Gelbs said...

I agree completely with all of the above. Let's just hope Wenger notices and fixes it fast! Only time will tell..

Anonymous said...

what a bunch of twats you all are! nuff sed.

Sue said...

Im fed up with reading/hearing from all you whinging gits. If you dont like it piss off and support that lot down the road