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Monday 8 November 2010

Martha to Andy Carroll's Arthur

If some French floozy has managed to distract an obsessed Arsène Wenger from his spreadsheets and his wall-to-wall diet of world football, long enough for some extra-curricular activities, well all I can say is that she must’ve presented him with some seriously attractive statistics. But then the scandalmongers obsession with salacious tittle-tattle in this country, is more an expression of the warped sense of moral propriety of their readership than their targets.

The only roasting I’m really interested in is the one I expect our manager to be dishing out in the dressing room after the Gunners casually coughed up another costly three points at the weekend. Despite all the much deserved plaudits earned by Chris Hughton’s Toon, sadly I can’t envisage them taking points off of any of our rivals on their travels, with the sort of smash & grab tactics they deployed at our gaff.

Sure Andy Carroll is a handful, Arsène acknowledged as much in his programme notes. But then how is it possible that a Premiership defence isn’t sufficiently well-drilled to know they need to pick him up at set-pieces. There was much mirth over the way the Everton backline joined hands the other week, but personally I adored this evidence of Moyes' regimented defensive drilling from the training ground being reproduced on a match day. If only we could see a few more signs at the Arsenal of this sort of concerted, disciplined effort to address our defensive frailties.

I can’t claim to be a seer to have predicted that it was only a matter of time until Flappy Handski’s next gaff, as unfortunately such is a goalkeeper’s lot. Some suggested he’d have done better to remain on his line but I’m delighted to see a keeper keen to dominate his area, by coming for everything inside his domain. However at the time I couldn’t fathom why he wasn’t able to beat Carroll to the ball considering he has the three-foot advantage of the use of his arms.

It wasn’t until watching the lowlights on the box later than night that I realized it was his indecision that was to blame. He started to come for the ball, hesitated and then realizing Chamakh had left Carroll with a completely free header, he had no choice but to challenge for it. Fabianski is a decent enough goalie, but he lacks that abrasive cocksuredness of a keeper who does everything with total conviction. If he hadn’t hesitated, he wouldn’t have been competing with Carroll from the standing start that left him struggling to get to the ball.

Nevertheless our susceptibility to defensive faux-pas notwithstanding, Sunday’s defeat was several more times frustrating than having our bum smacked by the Baggies. At least they caught us on a bad day and posed a threat by playing some entertaining footie, whereas on Sunday Newcastle merely endured because they wanted it that it that much more than we did.

Arsène’s argument for squad rotation is only valid if players need to be kept fresh for the business end of the season because we’re challenging for trophies. I’ve always been an advocate of starting with our best XI and hopefully giving players a breather once we’re a couple of goal to the good. I’m certain there can be little benefit when we’re forced to send our star turns on to rescue a result, since I'm convinced they end up no less spent than if they’ve played the entire 90. Besides which, as far as I’m concerned, above all it is the maintenance of a winning momentum which is most crucial.

Coming on the back of our defeat against Shaktar Donestk, we once again went into Sunday’s game against lesser opposition, with a low tempo, lackluster approach, as if we have just a little too much belief in our own ability and that this will eventually tell as the opposition begin to flag, without ever needing to match their work rate. The fact of the matter is that the key to success against such sides is for us to play the game at the sort of pace that they can’t live with for 90 minutes. But sadly when you start matches at such a pedestrian pace, without the necessary vitality, it becomes impossible to shift down through the gears, until invariably we go a goal behind and are forced on to the front foot.

Not to mention my bugbear about psychologically gifting away home advantage by lining up with a lone striker. If Hughton was brave enough to play 4-4-2, why couldn’t we go like for like, as surely it would’ve been better off to start the game with a front pair, than to have to risk chasing the game at the death with FOUR strikers?

There might’ve been some solace in the Scousers stuffing Chelsea, but in truth it only made me that much more enraged at having wasted a rare opportunity to reel the Blues back in. Although based on our current inconsistent form, we’re still some way from mounting a viable challenge.

Wednesday night’s trip to the Black Country is not one for the feint-hearted, against a Wolves side that’s bound to be indignant about their recent run of bad luck. Should the Gunners find the necessary fortitude, as we often do away from home, it’s only going to leave me feeling that much more mystified why we insist on playing Martha to visiting Arthurs in our own backyard!

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Danish Gooner said...

I find it rather strange that a player like Arshavin is already knackered,he had 3 months off.

Bern said...

Funnily enough I forgot to mention Shava, as in his half hour run out on Sunday, our pocket rocket Ruski appeared far more ennervated than he has in the games he's started in recent months.

Although it was all to little effect as far as end product was concerned, it was at least good to see him running his little legs off, rather than his recent habit of laying the ball off and making like a teapot, hands on hips, standing watching the remainder of the move develop.

It was suggested to me that perhaps this is merely further evidence that Shava simply can't do 90 minutes at full pelt?