The irony of drawing against Cardiff is that the team put out to play that game was only so weak because we were resting players… now we have added another tricky fixture to our schedule. Some people are ok with the draw… but I happen to think we’ve missed a good opportunity to keep a winning streak going… plus risked possible injuries in an unnecessary game.
Sagna Djourou Toure Gibbs
Eboue Ramsey Song Nasri
I can’t understand the persistence with Eboue… The stability argument doesn’t rub anymore… there is nothing stable about a player who gives the ball away 60% of the time… he doesn’t even know which position he is playing in. So why does he keep getting the nod? I was a bit wary about playing Song and Ramsey in the middle… Ramsey becuase of his inexperience and the pressure… Song for obvious reasons. I would preferred to have seen Denilson and Nasri in the middle… Rambo out wide right… Vela left (Or Wilshere due to the injury).
Still, we had what we had…
The first half was a poor showing from Arsenal. We struggled to get any sort of passing rhythm going, we were second to most balls and the midfield, bar Song… didn’t really offer anything. Even when Song is playing ok, he still doesn’t offer us the pace or drive the current set up need from a centre midfielder.
Ramsey was terribly off the pace today and showed why he isn’t yet ready to stake a claim on a starting berth. Eboue was pretty dire for the first half. He was once again deployed in the ‘free role’ and he rarely offered us width. He was harshly booked after going down easily in the Cardiff box… but like I said earlier in the season, when you get yourself a name for being a cheat, that type of stuff happens.
As chances went, Cardiff had the better. McCormick caused us problems all afternoon. He went close early on with a glancing header… he also blazed a shot just wide shortly after. The fact of the matter was Cardiff didn’t hit the target, so Arsenal were let off.
Arsenal had a few half chances, with Nasri going closest. He was played in sublimely by RvP… but instead of letting rip early, he took his time, made a couple of phone calls, put the kettle on… then weakly shot right of the keeper who saved with ease. Nik B went close twice as did Kieren Gibbs. The story of the first half was all about how well Cardiff played against a top 4 team… and how Arsenal had failed to be at the races against a weaker team.
The second half began and I was hoping for a more urgent Arsenal. We kind of got that, but we still had the same issue we’ve had most of the year… no penetration. The whole midfield lacks that winning mentality you look for in a world class team. You get the impression some of the players expect to win without having to work hard for it… which I guess is why we saw a casual approach to nicking a winner.
Things started to look promising when Ade came on for the disappointing Eboue (Why was he shaking his head?). Ade ruffled Cardiff’s feathers straight away when he played in RvP from a long ball… who struggled but did manage to get a shot off, only to be saved by Enkleman. Not long after that, RvP chipped a cross to the unmarked Togan… who shinned the ball into the ground in ridiculous fashion. I know Ade isn’t getting the service he was last yaer… but for £80k a week, you do expect a little more from him. I’m not saying he should have scored it… but he could have at least worked the target.
For all the possession Arsenal held… we didn’t really test the keeper. Cardiff went close late on with a ripper of a freekick that hit the bar. The game fizzled out… and a replay for 9000 Cardiff City fans was ensured.
Fabianski: Someone must have slipped a Ritalin pill in his lucozade before the game because I thought he showed an unusual amount of composure and calmness today. He made a couple of smart saves and commanded his area well. 7
Sagna: Not his best game in a yellow and blue shirt. I thought he was a little erratic and last ditch at times. His crossing was nothing short of woeful. 6
Toure: I didn’t really think too much of the defense today. Kolo made a bad error early on, but my issue was more with the defence as a unit… I didn’t feel it was very cohesive… Kolo should really have addressed that. 6
JD: Again, not a great defensive performance… but a clean sheet. 6.5
Gibbs: Considering his age and lack of playing time, I thought he did well against an organised Cardiff team. He also went close in the first half for a goal. A solid back up for Clichy. 7
Nasri: Anonymous in the first half, bar the earlier described miss. I wish he’d show more desire for the ball when he isn’t playing well. He has the ability to change games, but he’ll never do that without the ball at his feet… Wilshere at his tender age is a great example of a player who always wants the ball…. Nasri was better in the second half, and offered us a lot more creatively… but I still think a player with his talent should be doing more. 7.5
Song: I know there were a lot of people slating Song before the game, but I thought he did pretty well today. His passing in the main was pretty sharp and he made a few solid tackles and quietly got on with his job…. he even won a race with Joe Ledley! He faded as the game went on, but considering how much extra work he had to do next to Rambo… I thought he did himself proud. I don’t think he is the future there because he lacks the right qualities, but hopefully he can begin an upward curve of improvement. 7.5
Rambo: I was pretty shocked that the 18 year old was given a start considering the importance of winning the FA Cup this year. He was roundly booed all game by the Cardiff faithful and it rattled him. His passing wasn’t sharp and he wasn’t as direct as he has been in previous games. When things weren’t going his way, he started to force things and that made matter worse. Great talent, bad game… 5
Eboue: Not really sure where he was playing today… but I don’t suppose it mattered. He was poor again and didn’t really offer us anything anywhere… I will be surprised if he signs a new contract with us because he really is disliked by a majority of Gooners… and a majority of pundits. He’s just not Arsenal class, and I don’t know how many years Arsene is going to give him before he lets him go. 4
NiK B: I thought he played ok today… lady luck wasn’t on his side, but I thought he worked hard… RvP seems reluctant to pass to him sometimes. I suppose the first half of the season is still fresh in the memory for the Dutchman… hopefully the trust will come back soon. 7
RvP: I love watching Robin play… he holds the ball up as well as Kanu used to and he creates chances. I would like to see him score a few more, but I think the goals will come in time… probably when we sign someone with a bit of creativity. 8
Adebayor: Shook things up when he came on but guilty of a poor miss. 5
Jack: Brought on with 3 minutes to go… should have come on earlier. 6
Diaby: Came on, made some poor passes… lost the ball a few times and added nothing to the team. He has bundles of talent, but if he never uses it… he is a bit pointless. 5
I am pretty sure Arsenal were one of the only teams in the Prem who fielded a weakened team yesterday, and that is disappointing. Are our players that precious they can’t get it together for an FA Cup game? Others may not agree, but I find it deeply frustrating to know that we purposely fielded a weakened team in the Carling Cup… then in the FA Cup. We should show the competition some respect…
… but on a positive note (stolen from the comments):
- No one was injured
- We’re now 9 games unbeaten
- An extra game will mean an extra £3.1 million in the bank… so we can now sign Arshavin!
Have a great Monday Grovers!