The summer rebuild…A fans perspective..Defence.

June 5, 2009

Now then boys and girls, today we get to put our Tony Adams thinking caps on!!

The Arsenal defence at the minute seems to be a bit of a weak spot in our team..and Sir Wenger Obe Cbe AFC would seem to agree…

The Arsenal defence conceeded 37 goals in 38 PL games….breaking that down further to 16 at home and 21 away…For a top four side challenging for the PL title that is simply not good enough..as the PL table suggests…

Manutd conceeded 24, Liverpool 27 and Chelsea 24…

A successful team not only has to be good with the ball, but without the ball too…If we want to catch our rivals next season these figures have to improve in our favour…in simple terms..we need to tighten up…

Personally…i cant understand why…if we break our 1st choice back four down..we have two fullbacks who were both in the PL team of the year 2007-08… we have an experienced French international whos won many trophies with Chelsea and on his day is probably one of the best CB’s in the world…and we have Kolo…Arsenal through and through and was part of the invincible defence….

On paper we have probably one of the best defences in the world…even Carlsberg would do well to better that defence…

My opinion is that we have too main problems with our defence….

1…No quality arial presence..

2…No quality backup for injuries…

So what do we do???

If we look at our defence next season and break it down we have…

LB…Clichy, Gibbs, Troare.

RB…Sagna, Eboue

CB..Gallas, Kolo, JD, Song, Senderbramble, Fishhead.

Gallas and fishead can play LB and Kolo can play RB (not very well)…Its fair to say Gallas is the only one who can adapt to the FB position…

We have too many average CB’s, we have too many players that cover the LB position and not enough quality at RB

We dont need Troare..Clichy is the first choice and Gibbs has impressed as an able deputy..Troare is surplus to requirements…Senderos has proved that he isnt quick enough to handle the PL..and he is mentally weak and has moments of madness so hes out of the door too…Fishead is over the hill..he isnt of top 4 quality anymore..either 1st choice or backup…thats why Fergie got rid and thats why we should too…Eboue has pushed the fans to the limit this season…time and again we have been subjected to some woeful performances and he should be sold…

So thats Troare, Senderos, Fishead and Eboue….That looks like an awful lot of players but we are still left with the first choice defence…

So who do we bring in???

Sagna will need cover at RB…so how about Glen Johnson??? Or Micah Richards…with Richards we get a gooner and a RB/CB all in one go so maybe hes the best option??? Or both..we could use Troare as a makeweight for Johnson????

The CB positions are still pretty strong with Gallas, Kolo, JD and Song…but we still need a ball winner and my shout is Lescott…strong, quick and good in the air and the mainstay of Evertons impressive defence in recent seasons…then Wenger gets his wish of last season of a dominant CB who’s left footed!!!!!!

That leaves us with a defence of

RB…Sagna, Johnson, Richards

LB..Clichy, Gibbs, Lescott

CB..Gallas, Lescott, Kolo, Song, JD, Richards

Now we have a more balanced stronger, quicker defence with arial presence and quality backup for places…

Over to you Roadsters…or Roasters…Or Roosters…depending on what part of the country your from!!!!

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In Praise of Silvestre.

April 23, 2009

As much as it is becoming more and more fashionable for Arsenal supporters to eulogise over how wonderful the Manu squad system is; I would like to remind them that they almost lost the league recently because of their lack of defensive depth. When both Ferdinand and Vidic were injured they went scratching around the barrel and came up with Evans and Gibson, ever heard of them? No.

The idea that they wouldn’t have sold Silvestre if he was any good is a catchy little sound bite but it is lazy and totally inaccurate. I can only assume that the people who trot this out are unaware that it suggests a greater level of nous on the part on the mancs. Now some Arsenal supporters, and I use the term loosely, may be comfortable with that; but to me, this has the same effect as a cats claws being dragged down a black-board.

Here is what I suggest happened. After many years of loyal service the mancs explained to Silvestre at the beginning of the season that his chances of playing were limited and so out of respect they let him leave on a free transfer in order that he could get the best wage deal possibly for himself: very fair in my opinion.

Lots of Arsenal supporters were crying out at the beginning of the season that we need to buy experience; there are few more experienced than Silvestre; and yet, he arrived to a chorus of complaints.

Against Liverpool, he was up against the best centre forward in the world, we know this, of course, because of how many Arsenal supporters sing his praises at any available opportunity. Sylvestre had a torrid time. But it is worth remembering that not so long ago the dippers scored four goals against the chavs and they had Alex playing.

Calls for new defenders are the order of the day but I ask myself do these people actually think of the practicalities of signing more defenders. Take Brede Hangeland of Fulham, a very popular name on the wish list; do you really think he would be interested in coming to a club where he may well be expected to sit on the bench for most of the season?

There was an interesting conversation on the site the other day: someone was stressing the importance of building up defensive partnerships: the names of Ferdinand and Vidic came up; ours would naturally be Gallas and Toure. The point was that partnerships develop over time, they have to be nurtured and persevered with in order to get the best out of them; this is not a radical idea. I suspect that most managers aim to achieve a stable partnership; equally, I suspect that most players understand that that is what a manager will be aiming for. So it is reasonable to guess that Toure and Gallas knew at the beginning of the season that they were going to be the main pairing that Wenger was going to prioritise throughout the season.

So if Hangeland were signed and by some good fortune Gallas and Toure didn’t get injured he could find himself wasting his career away on the bench. Ahhh, I hear you say, but there are always injuries. This is true and if there were then Djourou, who is a far better long term prospect than Hangeland any way, would play.

So now Hangeland has got to sit on the bench and wait for Gallas, Toure and Djourou to get injured before he gets a game and that could easily mean that he sits there twiddling his thumbs all season long. What self respecting footballer wants to do that unless he is 17 and is prepared to wait for his chance. In short, unless Hangeland was going to replace Gallas or Toure (in a Sol Campbell way) then there is no way, if he has a modicum of self respect, would want to come to Arsenal……..I would suggest that we are fortunate to have Silvestre.

This post is by London!


Who Broke My Heart? You Did (Arsene).

April 19, 2009

I had been looking forward to our first appearance at Wembley since it was rebuilt. We ruled Cardiff, we left a groove in the M4 the amount of times us Gooners drove down there.

We were just about favourites in the eyes of the pundits yesterday, until about 4.30 in the afternoon when the teams line up’s were announced…..I lost my appetite for the game at this point.

Diaby, Denilson, RvP in midfield, taking on Essien, Ballack and Lampard. Mr Wenger can you work out why we lost????

We are Arsenal we play to our strengths not try to counter others.

Since January when we had all those nil nil draws we have been slowly building up a head of steam, Arshavin signing and when he started playing and got himself fit showed the difference in waiting 5 years for a player to come good and top quality.

Wengerball was back, even without our Cesc, Nasri has started to show why we paid so much money for him. Song came on leaps and bounds and even started to show his fiercest critics he is better than alright.
Theo came back and has shown what he can do on the right wing, Nasri moving into the centre and ruling games, Arshavin cutting in from the left.
Then we reach a big game and Arsene tries to be too clever, too much choice instead of playing our strongest team he stretches the paper thin squad over 3 games and as usual it doesn’t work.

I hate Mourinho but when it came to team selection and substitutions he was the best. Why not have a look at his record and his team selections. I am starting to fear that perhaps Arsene needs a little help and not yes men who can settle for excuses.

On another blog yesterday someone wrote they enjoyed the game but not the result!!! Has anybody ever enjoyed a game where we lost??? Then they go on to say they are better supporters. Unbelievable!

As for the game, we played okay to start with they cut off Cesc, We then stopped passing and just hoofed it up Wimbledon style to Lazybayor. You all saw it why I don’t need to go over it today as we are all pissed off!

Fabianski. 3… Like a cat on a hot tin roof, the game was too big for him.

Eboue. 4 .. In fairness if Arsene had left him as a right back he probably would have played better.

Toure.. 5… Not at is best but, he was trying to make up for the players either side of him, why he doesn’t manmark Drogba I don’t know it is always the other centre half who lets him in.

Silvestre. 4… A few bad passes and lack of pace let him down .

Gibbs. 7.5… Ah a player who had a very tidy game, caused all sorts of problems down the wing and defended well.

Denilson. 3… Out of his depth, too lightweight.

Fabregas. 6… Never really stood a chance, once he was closed down the rest of the midfield offered no outlet.

Diaby. 4… Just back from injury again, how he walks back into the team is shocking, cannot pass, defend or keep the ball. One driving run a match is all we can hope for.

Walcott. 7… Theo played well, needs to look up before he crosses apart from that he is getting involved more.

Rvp. 5… Arsenal’s striker, Holland’s right winger, played at left wing. What a waste!

Adebayor. 4…. Lazy, poor touch .It’s no wonder Terry and Ferdinand said they hate playing against him, that has helped fool Wenger and Arsenal in giving him vast amounts of money that he barely deserves.

The subs were too late, the game was already lost.


This Crop of Players Has Belief. (by Peachesgooner)

April 16, 2009

So there we were, 10 minutes to kick-off, excited and nervous at the prospect of either holding-on by the skin of our teeth or showing off big-time and proving that the Arsenal are back! Would our smooth silky skills and fast attacking football be enough to dump Villareal out of the Champions League and set up a meeting with either the Mancs or Porto?

A trip to Porto in the spring is infinitely more enticing than Old Trafford – we have to go there anyway in May and this is the Champions League after all, where games should be against foreign opposition.

In the week since Ade scored that wonder goal to give us the edge going into this tie, team selection has been causing us some consternation. Having lost Almunia, Gallas and Clichy from that game and then Djourou on Saturday, our solid back four has been shredded. Having said that, we haven’t conceded a goal at THOF since Plymouth on the 3rd January!!!!!!!!!!!!! Will Cesc play deep or high up the pitch and who will be his partner if we are playing 4-4-2? Theo and Nasri must be a shoe-in and so the final pieces are up front Ade and van Persie.

As usual there was a surprise in store and this time its not Arsene messing around with the team selection – Sagna was out with a bug and fingers are crossed, Eboue would play at right-back…………..and what a treat that turned into! Theo and Eboue were passmasters supreme. They picked each other out at pace whilst totally controlling the right wing.

Song was preferred to Denilson alongside Cesc in the middle and as the teams lined-up it was hard to take your eyes off Robert Pires gracing the Emirates turf – how he would have loved to have played another couple of seasons for us and how we would have loved him too.

I expected us to come out of the traps really fast and Villareal obliged by giving us lots of space to play. We were quite relaxed. Adebayor had his trademark collection of off-side decisions in the opening minutes. Theo and Eboue easily beat their markers and it wasn’t long before a couple of good chances had come and gone. Were we going to rue the lack of finishing? Not for long. Theo floated a stunning ball over the top of the fast approaching goalkeeper that hung in the air for an eternity and nestled in the side of the goal. Fantastic we’d scored in the TENTH minute – dream come true.

Adebayor was his usual very annoying self – lazy and off-side far too often, but it was written in the stars that he would score and he received a great ball from Van Persie with a deft first touch (unusual) and with his second touch he scored (made it look so easy). We were 2-0 up on the hour and his name was sung with gusto around the ground. Love him or hate him – if he keeps scoring, I can’t complain.

I was worried that Song was running up blind alleys and giving the ball away cheaply but he grew in stature throughout the second half. Some of his ball play was stunning. He has skills tucked away that we can only hope that we’ll get to see more often. He dragged the ball back and twisted round, losing his marker in true Henry style. He may be the man to partner Cesc – I’d still rather an experienced DM but I’m prepared to let Song stake his claim on that position after tonight’s performance.

Cesc tried a lot of passes that didn’t come off in this game but on another night he would have been hailed as genius. He could learn from watching how Pires worked the ball making neat intelligent passes rather than going for amazing every time. Not everything was working for Cesc but was he bovvered – I think he wasn’t.

When Theo was brought down in the box and the linesman flagged for a foul Van Persie stepped up to put away a powerful penalty with clinical efficiency. 3-0 and twenty minutes still to go, with Villareal down to 10 men, unheard of for us to be cruising in this manner this season. We could just sit back and watch the football.

The scoreline made it an easy decision to make substitutions. Denilson and Diaby came on for Theo and Van Persie with 15 minutes to go and then Nikki for Adebayor with 7 minutes to go.

What I feel is really important is that this was not an awesome Arsenal performance – we won’t be reminiscing of the day Villareal came to the Emirates and we took them apart to book a place in a semi-final against the Mancs – this was an assured performance by a team that have the belief that they are really very good and that their exuberance, skill and intelligent play makes them frightening opposition.

There are a possible 11 games left for us this season. I hope our young, patched-up neo-invincibles go for glory and bring us back a cup or two……. they can be awesome.

One thing that made last night special was the chance to thank Robert Pires for his years of fantastic service. We had two of the invincibles on the pitch last night and it was significant that Bobbie made a special fuss of Kolo. Most of the crowd stayed behind and applauded Pires off the pitch and you could see he reciprocated the emotion.

Player ratings.

Fabianski 9 Does a solid job as a sweeper too

Eboue 9 This is his position, please Arsene don’t play him anywhere else. His interplay with Theo in the first half was awesome.

Toure 9 Dependable as always, intelligently didn’t go on any runs!!!!!

Sylvestre 8 Did go on a couple of runs!!!!! Played well with Toure and his experience was important in the make-shift defence.

Gibbs 8 Love him, he makes potent runs and has a good shot, left the back-door gaping a couple of times but hey, he’s young and part of the Peachesball revolution – We’re gonna score lots more than you!!!

Theo 10 They’re my ratings and I’ll give him 10 if I want to. He brings so much to this team and last night he scored a peach of a goal.

Cesc 9 A bit quiet, nothing exciting came off for him but he’s our captain and he loves playing for Arsenal.

Song 9 Wow, this guy has come on in leaps and bounds he was everywhere and clearly has seriously silky skills.

Nasri 8 Must have been frustrating for him as all the play was going up the other wing so he had to seek out the ball.

Van Persie 9 I wonder if he was really fit, a bit lethargic in the first half but worked hard for the team. Took his penalty beautifully and deserved a goal.

Adebayor 8 Lazy, off-side aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhh and then scores a great goal, watch it again – his first touch was perfect.

Subs Denilson, Diaby – could have scored and Nikki all had a run-out but the game was over by then.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable night of football and the Chavs to look forward to on Saturday.


At This Point The Youth Policy Fails!!

April 15, 2009

Our season always seems to have one defining week, a week when we play in a quarter final, a semi final and a very important Premiership game within 8 days or less.

This is that week, the week that supporting a big club is all about. Spuds supporters don’t even know what this feels like, they can only take the piss when it all goes Alex Song..

And boy does it go wrong, why???   Is it luck??  Is it strength in depth?? Is it poor refereeing decisions??

 

Well Mr Wenger OBE I would like to blame in on the injuries, I would like to blame it on squad depth, but it’s getting a bit of a coincidence now isn’t it. Ever since 2004 when Wayne Bridge’s late goal sent us packing out of the Champions League we have struggled in the crucial games,…I love it when we get this far but scared.

It’s your youth system, the players that you use every week through the season freeze at the big games, then when we lose the first match the season collapses like a set of domino’s on one of Norris McWhirter’s world record attempts.

They can play in the ‘mundane’ Premier League week in week out because they are relaxed, but these games take them out of that comfort zone and they are pumped up..

This is where we miss the individuals who can step up their game and roll up their sleeves.


Some Arsenal supporters will not tolerate it again this year and there will be a big shout to buy experience in the summer and to be fair we have the nice shiny stadium now so they have a point..

 

When we reached the Champs League final in 2006 we done it with an injury crisis in a similar position when we had our two first choice left backs out at the same time,and we used a midfield player to fill that position at the later stages up until the final, this year it is the left centre back that is the problem position and the left back area too, we are now reliant on youth and the man who a lot of people criticised Arsene for buying.

 

We will win tonight, but we also need to win convincingly The main men now have to step up Fabregas, Sagna, Toure will lets hope RvP and Ade will too they want the big boys wages let’s see some big boy performances..

 

Diaby is fit for tonight, and Dudu.

 

…………….line up.

 

………….Fabianski.

 

…Saga. Toure Silvestre Gibbs.

 

..Walcott Fabregas Denilson Nasri

 

……………….Diaby

 

…………….Adebayor.

 

The semi final place isn’t a done deal yet and we are not capable of playing  defensively so I’m going for 3-2…


A Late Swan Song..

April 12, 2009

The Mute Swan, lives it’s entire life without ever muttering a word, then just as it is about to die sings the most beautiful Song.  . That is an ancient myth they actually produce snorts, shrill noises, grunts, and hisses.. Like the Arsenal supporters when Song plays..

Now I am not saying that Alex Song Billong is about to do the above and I hope that is not his final contribution for us this season.

Yesterday though he actually showed he is not a one trick pony, a slow motion Robbie Savage, he can indeed offer much more in the direction that Denilson seems to struggle in, going forwards, straight ahead.

We started the game yesterday like we always do against the lesser teams, slooowwwwly, when will we ever learn that we are one of Wigan’s biggest scalps and teams like them, we are their cup final,  4 years ago we would have killed this lot off in the first 30 minutes, then strolled and pruned ourselves smugly..

Their goal came from a corner, I blame Denilson in the first instance, he lost his marker again and that allowed the ball to be headed into the danger zone, a quick scramble and a  shot from Mido saw the ball bounce awkwardly and under Fabianski..

Things couldn’t get much worse, it did when a cross came in and Djourou just collapsed on the floor in a heap and after three or four minutes of treatment Mr Lewin called in the St Johns. enter the “Manc Reject”  £750,000 pounds worth..  ;).

Just before half time a innocent ball was played down the middle and “young fellow me lad” Gibbs headed the ball back to the keeper, he never had enough purchase on it and Valencia  took full advantage until he was pulled down.. It looked like a red one to us and looking at Gibbs face I feel he was waiting for a card of that colour..He got a yellow but so should two or three Wigan players for waving the imaginary card around.  The free kick hit the inside of the post with Fabinaski all over the place… then HT phew..

Second half.. 🙂 ..

Things was little better to start with Silvestre was nervous and making mistakes. Then after Nikki won a header somehow between Arshavin and Theo a chance was created.. Bosch Mr Walcott..

After a change of personnel  a little link up play from our two finest, it created a chance for Silvestre to be the fox in the box.

The third goal came from a break that was was out of the Anelka, Overmars era.. We charged forwards with great gusto only for Ade to under hit his final pass, but a cock up by the Wigan defender saw the ball break to Andrei “AK 47” Arshavin.. You just know..

Well the fourth goal.. haha  after some good interlinking play the ball came to Alex “Jinky Jink” Song who rounded two players in a shoulder dropping dribble and banged it home..

Fabianski 7…  Alright. glad he regained his composure, wasn’t sure about the goal or his positioning for the free kick..

Sagna  7….  Steady as always, no problem..

Toure 7.. Played well seems to have settled, not in such a panic now..

Djourou 6.. I haven’t heard how the injury is. he was okay..

Gibbs.. 5.5.. I would have loved him to have done better, I think he would be dropped if Silvestre wasn’t needed at CB.

Denilson . 4.5.. At fault with the goal and a bit surplus to requirements against poor attacking teams..

Song 8.. A bit poor in the first half but his confidence must be rising after his performance in the second..

Fabregas 7.5.. Not at his very best but.. the telling balls are still their, magic man..

Walcott 7.5 (for sale) .. Not consistent enough in my opinion loses the ball too much still and I wish he would roam a bit more, but very lively and a good goal.

Arshavin.. 7.5.. The little man is class, if only they came in pairs..

Bendtner 6.. Not great but as usual good effort..

Subs…

Silvestre 7.5.. A few miss placed passes but good goal Gallas gets a medal when he does that..

Ade.. 6.5..

Rvp… 6..

Marks .. 6/10 Can do better and we need too.

All the papers are saying we was lucky.. Man U do this every week..

.


The score line flattered Arsenal; no, the half time score line flattered Wigan.

April 12, 2009

At the rate our central defenders are dropping we are going to need a miracle of biblical proportions to hold back the tidal wave of attack we will face from now to the end of the season; so, today being what it is, what better miracle could we hope for other than Gallas to rise from the bed.

A topical point I thought I would try and get in somehow. Unfortunately, however, I don’t believe in miracles, although, I do believe in Arsène Wenger, not in an Arsène knows best kind of way — put Eboue on the left wing or Song at right back and see what happens — I can make my head spin around and spew green bile in such way so as to make the girl in the Exorcist seem no more angry than someone forgot to put sugar in her tea, no I believe in Arsène in such a way so as to use his squad intelligently enough to guide us to the end of the season.

Today’s line up had very little to do with Wigan and everything to do with Wednesday’s Champions league game with Villareal. The reason I emphasise this is because at first sight it might seem like a poor team selection reflected in the half time score line but Wenger clearly felt he had enough strength in depth to get a victory no matter what team he picked and used this trip to try every possible formation that he is likely to need for Wednesday, starting with Bendtner: someone that I don’t expect to start against Villareal, although, if Adebayor were to get injured Bendtner would be primed and ready to step into the breach. Equally, if late in the game and we still need a goal and high balls are the order of the day, then Bendtner could replace Walcott.

The only surprise for me was that there was no Eduardo yesterday even if it were for two minutes because if we need quick feet in the box then there is no better that our Crozilian.

The Gibbs debate is now academic if Djourou is out for the rest of the season and with our luck being what it is then Gibbs is going to have to be used at left back and good luck to him. Yesterday’s game should have done his confidence the world of good and although he made a pigs ear of his headed back pass he recovered well by pulling the Wigan player down in such a way that Tony Adams would have been proud of — and it was never a red card, Sylvestre was easily beyond him 😉

The Wigan goal was annoying in a way that we have suffered many times this season: indecision in the 18 yard box, but yesterday wasn’t about their goal it was about our comeback. I cannot recall a game in which Arshavin has played and we have gone behind; anyway, he clearly doesn’t like it and grabbed this one by the throat and sorted it out in a no nonsense Russian way. The assist for Theo’s goal was welcomed but we got a tantalising first glimpse of the eagerly anticipated interplay between Fabregas and the Russian Wizard the combination of which led to Sylvestre’s all important second goal.

When Wenger brought RVP on and effectively changed the formation to 4.4.2 he had a choice to make that I was very worried about; he was either going to have to take off either Denilson or Song. I was really pleased that Wenger took Denilson off not because I have a problem with him; he has come on leaps and bounds this season and has played a vital role; no, it’s because Denilson offers what Fabregas has in abundance whereas Song offers more defensively giving Fabregas the freedom to do what he does best. Our captain’s fitness is returning and he is getting closer to his masterful best.

Arshavin’s third goal, scored on the break, to which the commentator made the point that Arsenal have been scoring goals like this for three, four or five years; more accurately, the problem, which the commentator didn’t realise was that that goal was the first goal we have scored on a break in five years.
RVP played the ball out of defence to Adebayor who tore down the pitch only to make a sloppy pass that never reached Fabregas but fortunately Kumas played it into the path of Arshavin to score and rap up the points.

Which just leaves me with the fourth goal, oh joy of joys. There are many that feel the Song is not up to Arsenal standard and give sound reasons as to why, which I respect. Here’s another view: Song has made such great leaps forward to the point where he is now scoring goals, I wish him continued progress in the hope that he can make that position his own in the same way as Flamini did, and don’t forget that Flamini was ridiculed when first playing in the midfield that’s before he had his run at left back for those who may not remember.

Bring on Villareal