I'm definitley not one for a conspiracy theories... Global warming is fact, there was no nonsense with those twin towers, the Americans definitely landed on the moon first and Fabianski certainly has a groin injury that may keep him out of the game with Stoke tomorrow...
Or does he?
Now, despite all the things Wenger has been doing wrong lately, I still like to think we see eye to eye on a few things. I've been telling the world for weeks that Fabianski is not a good goalkeeper and despite all the marvelous shot stopping he's been doing, from a technical point of view, he's been failing.
A goalkeepers job is at the maximum, only 20% shot stopping (Guide to Goalkeeping 2010). Most keepers can shot stop, unless you purchase them from a crap Spanish second division. You don't generally get spotted unless you can make spectacular saves... but that's not what pushes you onto a higher level.
Things that make a top class goalkeeper for me and Arsene are great distribution, the ability to claim crosses from set pieces and open play, communication and command of the area.
If the keeper isn't confident and strong. The defence will wobble.
Now, I know people who don't see goalkeeping in the same way me and Wenger do will naively tell you Fabianski has been amazing. Fact is, he hasn't been. His kicking has been atrocious, you rarely see him shouting at his defence and it's not unusual to see him bound out of his area and totally miss a cross. That puts everyone on edge and when you've got a defence like ours (more skitty than Amy Winhouse on day 3 of cold turkey), the last thing you need Flappy the seagull collecting balls in the box.
Wenger took him out of the first team line up, yet didn't take him out of the squad against United. Very odd considering the severity of a groin injury. This weekend, it has been suggested Chesney will again take his place between the sticks. Is it a coincidence that a keeper who just showed a master class in penalty area dominance is going to get another chance to have a go against long ball specialists Stoke?
I think not...
Chesney shouts at his defence, he oozes the arrogance and self-confidence of Jens, he closes down players like Peter Schmeichel and he doesn't facilitate spectacular goals like the other two. For me, he has it all... bar experience.
So please, if he has a great game tomorrow, don't shed a tear for Fabianski, he'll still get paid. This is the era of Chesney and hopefully it's going to be a long and fruitful one.
In other news, Wenger said that Barcelona are the bench mark. Something Geoff and I said last season to great derision. If that's the case, maybe Wenger will note that they have a great defence and a team that all work for each other. Samir Nasri flagged the same point in PHW's paper...
“We need to put our suits of lights away in the cupboard at times. We have to get down to working hard for the good of the team.
Damn straight Sammy. Flashy tricks and flicks are only acceptable if you're spanking teams. Sometimes we need to think about other aspects of our game, you know, the boring bits. We need to become less shallow and dig in. Football is about winning, it's not just about the spectacle and press plaudits.
Barca didn't get where they are today by accident. Guardiola made Messi the best player in the world by teaching him how to be great off the ball. If we want to get to that level, Wenger needs to up his game in the transfer market and the players need to up their game in the mental department. If that happens, Madrid in the Champions League might not be such a daunting prospect.
It's a massive game against Stoke this weekend. If we smash them, we'll go back top and hopefully Chelsea will do the business against United and last weeks result won't look so bad.
We know what to expect from Stoke, loads of long throws into the box, long balls all day and strong arm (and foot) tactics. The way you deal with tough guys in Sunday league is to give as good as you get. I don't have any worries about the physical side tomorrow. The team just needs to make sure they all stand up for each other. We need to trust in our game, be more direct and open them up with the same relish most of us attack a Terry's christmas orange.
Tomorrow Grovers, we enact poetic justice for Rambo... again.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments... come join, it's Christmas (Denilson to Werder) and it's joke Friday!
P.S. Don't focus too much energy on turd of the year Ryan Shawcross tomorrow? Yeah right... tear him a new one!
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