Archive for January 10th, 2010


Two points dropped in the blizzard.

January 10, 2010

First of all, apologies for the post being a little late, but I had to get some perspective on all this – if I wrote this yesterday, it would be nothing short of angry ramblings of a lunatic. A proverb says that the morning is wiser than the evening, in other words, I just had to sleep on it. So here I am, still gutted with the result, but I will try to find some positives amongst the number of things that have gone wrong. Seriously, I will try…

OK, here goes: last season you just never knew which of the two Arsenals is going to turn up. One of them was the well motivated side that made slick, crisp passing game their own, the other one was never up for it, misplaced numerous passes and was generally getting overran by whatever opposition we played. This resulted with us being out of the title race by Xmas after we capitulated to the might of the likes of Stoke or Hull City. No disrespect to them, but we should be beating them without too many problems, had we applied ourselves. As far as yesterday’s game is concerned, we have to go back to the old cliche of game of two halves.

In the first half, it seemed like we had no answer to whatever they had to offer right from the start . Yesterday, I missed the first 20 minutes, so I had to take advantage of ATVO’s highlights facility to know what I am talking about. Seeing it in the cold light of dawn allows you some distance, but doesn’t make it any less annoying – Everton came flying out of the blocks, closing us down, intercepting our passes and looking much more hungry. Quite frankly, if you asked someone with absolutely zero knowledge to guess which of the two teams is the home one, currently in the third spot just 4 points off the top, it would be surprising to get the right answer.

Yesterday, I asked if Denilson was ready to take over the defensive duties for the time while Song is away trying to avoid getting shot. The answer is a categorical no – as much as I hate to say this, I will say it: I told you so. He got brushed off the ball too easily and his perceived intelligence, special game reading ability and anticipation counts for nothing without the Cameroonian’s physical presence. In the 12th minute, he got easily dispossessed by Saha, who you would not class as a monster, which led to him having another pop at our goal. Gallas blocked the shot for a corner, and we have conceded another set piece goal from a simple header by Leon Osman of all people. Don’t get me wrong, but to allow someone this short a free header in the box is just criminal. This was a good wakeup call, and we seemed to go up a gear afterwards, despite their attempts to disrupt our game with cynical fouling, which went largely unpunished by woeful Peter Walton. The fact that Fellaini managed not to go into the referee’s book during the game is nothing short of shocking, as he fouled, dived and got away with the lot.

Luckily, we have managed to equalise on 28th minute, after they didn’t clear the ball properly and allowed Denilson to nick it and pass it to Arshy, who gave it to Eduardo for him to tee young Brazilian up for a shot, which took a wicked deflection and ended in Tim Howard’s net. There was not a lot more to write home about in the first half, bar maybe Eduardo being questionably flagged for offside when he tried to stab the goal in with an outstretched leg.

I don’t know if the team talk was calm and balanced or another Le Hairdryer, but we looked much more determined in the second half, trying to win it. One must wonder, why they couldn’t muster the same in the first 45 minutes? However, we committed so many bodies forward, it must have left us exposed at the back, which resulted in the inevitable sucker punch. We got hit on the break after a serie of corners, when Rosicky chose the wrong option and they made two quick passes to set up Pienaar to run half length of the pitch unchallenged and chip over Almunia. Two points to make: firstly, we would normally have our no. 17 waiting there not to allow so much space and trying to break it up, secondly, this must be curtains for Almunia – again, he was caught in two minds: should I stay or should I go? You either stay on the line or come all the way, even taking one for the team, as long as it is outside the box. If you want to make yourself big, do it – had he come a yard further, he would have blocked this chip, as the ball missed his outstretched hand by mere inches. He is a liability and must be dropped – Fabianski could not do much more damage, could he? On top of that, a young keeper is earning experience from such mistakes, whereas this 32 year old ‘experienced’ idiot only earns money. The defence have precisely zero confidence in him and we will not win anything with him between the sticks – common denominator for the winning teams is a great keeper, I seriously challenge everyone to give me ONE example being the exception to that rule.

We have conceded in the 81st minute, but luckily, Rosicky made amends for his earlier mistake by scoring in the dying minutes. Again, it took deflection, this time off Lucas Neill and lobbed into the net. It was lucky, as Howard would probably have kept that out otherwise. We even tried to snatch a winner, but had to settle for a draw in the end.

Despite fightback and equalising late, which spared us blushes, it still feels like two points dropped, not one gained. AW needs to reconsider whether we have enough to mount a serious challenge on all fronts. As far as I am concerned, we need to dip into our pockets and buy at least two players, ideally three. Le Grove’s Pedro wrote a post in form of the letter to Our Glorious Leader, and I couldn’t have put it better myself if I tried. We are seriously short of options, and it makes us predictable – read the bit about the team selection in yesterday’s post, if I can figure this out, so can any professional football manager. If we are serious this season, we need a striker, a holding midfielder and a centre back, as Billy looks more and more likely to sustain some kind of fatigue related injury anytime soon.

Thanks for reading, I will be back tomorrow with more transfer market gossip analysis…