Firstly, congratulations to the Arsenal team, a great result after our abysmal performance at Wembley.
A five nil win against Leyton Orient was very emphatic and well deserved, the players were very focused and passed the ball about very effectively. A good one touch goal from a Rosicky fine run and a well executed cut back pass which found Chamakh and that was our first goal. I felt relief as that goal went in and I believe the players did as well.
It seemed to me that the game was set up for us to win. I couldn’t understand Orients tactics for the evening, they started from the back and tried to play in the same manner as we do, which in all honesty played straight into our hands. These tactics seemed very different to the way theyset up in the first game.
Maybe I shouldn’t question a win as at the end of the day we made another three million for this replay, when I say we I mean the club, not the supporters, they were the ones paying the money.
Perhaps I am just a bit touchy after the loss at Wembley but football is a business after all.
That win puts us in the quarter-final and we are matched with Manchester United. It appears to me that we will keep on being matched with United in every competition we stay in, so what are our chances against them. Most people would give us a good chance seeing how Ferguson’s men haven’t been firing on all cylinders but my opinion is that we don’t stand a chance.
Now don’t stop reading until I explain why.
Against Orient we passed all night and they gave us plenty of space and time to make our passes and that’s what we did all night. Our passing must have been close to Barcelona’s figures when we hosted them but when you look at the game again like I have, you see that we very seldom make a tackle. When I say tackle I mean going in with commitment, every tackle which is fifty-fifty our players pull out of. I understand that they do not want to be injured but I have noticed this trend more and more.
The same thing with heading, very seldom will we win a header. The players jump but only to try and put the defender off, never an intentional effort to win the ball, so what I am saying in so many words is that we are running scared of physical contact.
Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, Nasri Eboue Walcott Arshavin, are some of the worst offenders. I have noticed that it is spreading right through the team, Diaby pulled out of several tackles against Orient and that brought him to my attention. When your defensive midfielder starts pulling out you know you’re in trouble.
Wenger said after our last game at Orient, that young Miquel would be left out till he was stronger to go into tackles with intent, I think he should be looking at many more.
Now I come back to my statement about us not winning against Manchester United. Now this is a physical side, they are on you as soon as you receive the ball especially, Vidic Evra Fletcher and Carrick. They never pull out of any challenge, they are fully committed with one intention and that’s to get the ball. Their forward players will all battle for everything, they jump and win most of the balls in the air. They also have a very solid goalkeeper who is very experienced – he maybe nearing retirement but he’s still one of the best if not the best in the league.
What I am saying is that you have to fight power with power and our boys haven’t got this in them, so when matched with a physical side we normally come unstuck. When our players are rushed they give the ball away and they seem frightened of the physical side of the game.
I believe we lost the Carling Final because of it. I’m afraid our team are chokers in the important games and until their tackling and ‘bottle’ is sorted out, I believe we will gradually get knocked out of the cup competitions we are left in.
Pretty football is fine but sometimes a bit of good old grit and passion win games and the latter seems to be somthing we lack.
When the going gets tough, do we really have the ‘tough to get going’?
So, despite what Samir Nasri has said in the last couple of days:
“We’ve become more macho, both physically and psychologically,”
Do you you believe we are strong enough to fight to the end and win something this season, or am I just still annoyed at losing the Carling Cup final.
Written by Steve Palmer