Few titbits ahead of todays post:
Zenit have made an equiry about taking Arshavin on loan for the rest of the season, today is DD for the little Russian. No doubt if they are succesful today, this move would be made permenant in the summer. Talking of the summer, The Daily Telegraph report that Arsene Wenger will be give between £50 million and £100 million to finally sort the squad out. Hopefully it will be nearer the latter and the stubborn one spends every penny!
Onto todays post:
Last week on the eve of our game in Milan Arsene reacted angrily to journalists for questioning the ability of the current Arsenal team to go on and lift the coveted Champions League trophy.
‘I wouldn’t waste my time here if I thought it wasn’t possible, I’d rather sit at home then…’ he replied.
Arrigo Sacchi who led the greatest Milan side to date, some say it was the best ever team, to CL glory several times in the 80’s said this is the worst Arsenal team he had seen in 10 years. This view has been agreed upon by many other personalities in the game like Ancelotti, Roy Keane…to name quite a few.
Do they have a point ?
I know most of us would easily brush such criticisms of people who have no relation with Arsenal easily but you know something is seriously wrong when you hear the same thing being said by our ex-players like Keown, Bergkamp, Vieira, Winterburn, Petit among others.
This is what Bergkamp said when comparing today with his days at Arsenal:
I feel there are a lot of similar players there at the moment, It needs to be more diverse. You need a few strong characters who can get the team going, in training as well as matches. You also need a few players who can make a difference in terms of scoring goals. I don’t feel there are enough of them. You look at the midfield and compare it with ours.
We had Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Ray Parlour – when it wasn’t working for one of the big names, one of these could step up.
You can’t only depend on one or two players. When they’re having an off day, you need someone else.
He refers, in the main, to Robin van Persie, who has even surprised his compatriot by scoring so many goals as an out-and-out frontman.
To be honest, I would still prefer to see Robin play a bit deeper behind the main striker so that he could pick his moments the way I used to. I think he could be even better in that role, but the way he’s playing now you can hardly blame the coach for putting him there.
Yet not even Van Persie’s heroics have quelled the rumbling discontent.
Many supporters would probably nod in agreement at the following thoughts from the great man.
Sometimes you need more of a winning mentality than a passing mentality, I’m not sure Arsenal have enough of that in their players, when the attitude becomes more important than the ability just to pass the ball. I don’t know if the English mentality is missing a little bit. We had it with the back four, of course, who had the mentality of thinking, ‘OK, this game is ours now.’
Sometimes I see their games and it’s always the same way of playing, a bit too predictable. They are all fantastic players, that must be said, but sometimes you need a bit more of the other side.
Does he have a point?
Let us start from our goalkeepers. Szczesny’s breakthrough was nothing short of remarkable. We have waxed lyrical all about him. He has that presence that all great GKs do, he commands his area well and is great at shot stopping.
However his distribution leaves a lot to be desired. Against Milan we conceded the first goal due to this. He also started to become too big for his boots but I’ve heard he has taken time off twitter to focus on his game. If that is true then good; I’d rather they all stay off twitter. Also Szczesny seems to concede a lot of goals from long range shots and free kicks; he needs to work on that.
Fabianski in my opinion is our most talented senior GK in my opinion but he looks petrified every time he plays. He lacks presence and confidence to be our numero uno in between the sticks. The less said about Mannone and Almunia the better. Therefore, in the goalkeeping department we need a Sorensen/Friedel type of GK to promote healthy competition and provide advice to our youngsters.
Our defence has been our kryptonite for quite sometime. We tend to concede the softest goals in the league despite dominating most of our games. Examining our options at CB we have Vermaelen/Koscielny/Mertesacker/Squillaci/Djourou/Miquel/Barley. Miquel and Bartley are still young so the jury is out on them.
Squillaci and Djourou are in my opinion not good enough to play for us. For a successful CB partnership it has been proven that you need one sweeper and one Aggressive CB. Among the remaining CBs only Mertesacker can be classified as a sweeper. Despite looking slow there is a reason why he still plays for Germany when fit. He reads the game so well and that is why he and Koscielny worked so well. We need another sweeper like him since we already have 2 aggressive CBs.
When it comes to the fullbacks we have Sagna/Jenkinson/Gibbs/Santos. Sagna at his best is a rock at the back. What he lacks though is attacking quality to really make a difference in the final third that Alves/Lahm provide for their teams.
The jury is still out on Jenkinson. At LB we have Santos/Gibbs. Gibbs is a very frustrating player since he is always injured. How long do we have to persist with him?
Santos on the other hand is a very exciting player to watch. He may not be Maldini at the back but going forward he is excellent. He gives us that variety that Bergkamp was talking about. He can make diagonal runs inside or outside, can pass like a midfielder, can dribble and has lots of flair. He has what Sagna lacks. He could’ve been very useful against S’land.
According to my analysis we are well short at the back.
Ever since Arsene took over our club, the strongest area of our team has always been midfield. The invincibles had Vieira who was tank bossing games while Gilberto swept behind him. They were 2 very different players who complemented each other very well. They were also up for battle if necessary.
In 07/08 we had Flamini/Fabregas who complemented each other very well. Right now we have the likes of Arteta/Ramsey/Rosicky starting the same match when its clear as day they are very similar players. Where is the variety? Even Song is transforming his game to mirror that of the aforementioned trio. This is what Bergkamp was talking about. We as a result tend to have 70% possession but doing nothing with it.
That’s not beautiful football, its crab football. The only variety we have in midfield is jack/diaby who are both injured. We have missed their ability to drive with the ball and dribble past defenders to create space for our forwards. We lack that dynaminism in our play as a result.When the going gets tough do we have those players DB10 is talking about that can force the issue using power and grit to grind out a result? When passing doesn’t work we look clueless .
This needs sorting out ASAP.
Looking around Europe the best midfields have that variety; a ying yang if you may. At Barca Xavi dictates the game, Iniesta provides that dynaminism in the final third and Busquets mops up behind them. The same case applies with Oezil/Alonso/Khedira at Madrid. Cesc had Hleb/Nasri ahead of him to help him break down defences. We now neither have a Cesc nor a nasri; we are now left with Arteta/Ramsey/Rosicky passing to oblivion while running into each other, it’s painful to watch. A lot of work is needed to be done in midfield.
In attack we have Rvp/Oxo/AA/Theo/Gervinho/Park/Chamakh. Rvp has become a very clinical striker. Its amazing how good he has become. However, am I the only one who wishes we could see more of the skillful Rvp back?Could dropping him deeper as the iceman suggested be a good option and maybe buy a pacy and powerful striker to play ahead of him? In tight games like against S’land that part of his game would’ve been useful.
We seem to lack that X-factor in attack when everything else fails. Remember Bergkamp’s goal against newcastle? Don’t you wish we could have players that could do that? Fans loveto be wowed and such moments of genius will galvanize the crowd.
When RvP first joined he was absolutely amazing at dribbling, we miss that in our attack. AA used to but he too seems to have lost that side of his game. Gervinho is still adapting but we have seen flashes that he can but Theo can’t dribble past players. Oxo can but let us not heap too much pressure on him. Ryo is also showing promise but we need players for now. That x-factor component is severely lacking in our midfield/attack and it needs to be addressed.
When we need to play through the wings do we have a winger capable of swinging crosses into the area and a forward capable of heading it in? Theo tries his best there but he can only play well when there is space in behind and balls are played for him to run onto. We should develop varieties in attack and that is only possible if we have the right personell.
Variety is essential as Bergkamp pointed out. We need to mix and match to avoid being a predictable and one dimensional team that we are slowly transforming too. We have become very painful to watch as a result and as Bergkamp has pointed out, their team had all sorts of variety of players and that is why they were so good to watch.
When we were struggling DB10 would pull a rabbit out of the hat, or Henry would slalom past players to score like he did at the Bernabeu or someone like Pires would finesse the ball into the top corner from 30 yards…I miss that.
That was Wengerball at its best back then and I miss that. I would rather watch them than the current Barca team.
We have the cash, Arsene and Gazidis keep telling us so many times and our manager has even said that there are only 10
players in the world we can’t afford. They have to keep in mind quality has a price and you have to be ready to pay for it.
We are still an elite club but something has to be done to stop the rot we are in.
We have lots of work to be done on the team and as a fan one can only hope it will be done with or without Arsene.
Will it be done? …
Only time will tell.
Written by K-TR7