I’ve read people claiming that yesterday’s poor result was down to the team and it would be unfair to pick out individuals when critiquing the afternoon (as always…).
Sorry, but I shan’t be having that.
Yesterday’s issue was about the level of our second string not being as high as we’d like to imagine. We’ve seen that demonstrated twice in 2 weeks. It’s not a coincidence that teams that have Eboue, Denilson, Bendtner and dare I say it… Arshavin, suffer when they’re all mashed into our ‘strongest’ team of the day.
Now, I am sure I can muster a defence for a number of the players if I put my mind to it, so I’ll give you the run down.
Simply put, he is not a F*CKING winger. Apologies for my bad language, but this isn’t like sticking Reyes, Wiltord or Theo out wide… this is putting a cumbersome 6ft4 lump out on the wing. You only have to look at him to see that he’s never going to work out there. He knows psychologically he’s no good there and that affects his game. His touch was atrocious yesterday, his finishing was diabolical and his attitude stank.
Can I blame him? Not really… he was hung out to dry being put out wide. His game was summed up late on when he lashed wildly at a floated pass. He should have struck it, however, a good standard of Sunday league player would have landed that on target.
I’ve never bought into this whole cult thing we do for him. It irritates me because at the heart of it, there is a poor player who is mistake ridden in the extreme. His passing was disastrous and his decision making was laughable. There was also time for a standard injury feign and dive that was surprisingly ignored by the referee. Let him go to Roma, he’s too old to be back up right back. Surely there is a career he’s killing?
On the receiving end of a lot of cyber anger yesterday. I’ve got to say, I thought he was superb in the first half. His passing was unusually creative and I thought he was playing his role very well. However, after we went one down, his good play was flushed down the toilet. He was missing tackles, jogging and guilty of poor decision making. He conceded the penalty and once again, his lack of mobility was on show for all to see.
Quite frankly one of the most embarrassing performances I’ve ever seen from a player who has so much talent. It rivals Eboue’s cameo against Wigan where he was booed. He completely missed the ball twice, he’s been hanging out with Song’s imaginary friend and can’t stop passing to him and again, his decision making was terrible.
I feel really bad for him, his confidence has been destroyed over the last month and the fans really did treat him badly yesterday. For me, when a player has that much talent, you have to give him a bit of love. Our lot have had enough and that’s very sad. What really gets me is that no one on the pitch put an arm around him and told him to pull himself together. For a team that has more spirit than a Jack Daniels factory, we seem to have very little communication on the pitch when things are going wrong.
… you know what, for a player that has given us 4 goals and 12 assists this year, the crowd were disgraceful.
There, I said it. I don’t like knocking people who pay to see the game but he was getting pelters for things that weren’t even his fault. Regardless of how poor he was, he still looked the most dangerous player out there and he kept plugging away.
One more player I have to throw into the mix is Thomas Rosicky. He was pretty awful all day. We’ve waited 4 years for him to come good, now he’s injury free, he’s next to useless on the pitch. He doesn’t score, he doesn’t assist and he goes missing for large chunks of the game. He is like a 100 year old time piece that has been left in the cupboard. It’s beautiful to look at becuase you can imagine what it was like in it’s prime, however, wind it up and put it into the real world, the timing is going to be all over the shop and it’ll never quite work the same.
That is really sad, but it highlights the harsh realities of top level football these days. Loyalty to perma-crocks gets you no where.
All of the above, combined with players who were doing a pretty good job ended up in us not being able to turn over a Leeds team who came to play football against us!
The game from a neutral perspective must have been fantastic, from where I was sitting, it was most awkward. Watching Cesc Fabregas and Theo come onto rescue us was a sad indictment of our second string. Watching the Spaniard play long balls was a grim reflection of the poor movement of our team.
Arsenal dominated possession in the first half creating plenty of chances. Arshavin went closest when he beat the offside trap, his problem was too much time, firing straight at Schmeichel junior.
The second half Leeds came out of the blocks and won a penalty after Denilson stuck a clumsy leg out in the box. Chesney dived close to the Snodgrass penalty but the ball was fired too hard for him to keep it out.
Arsenal fell to pieces from there. The midfield couldn’t keep hold of the ball and we nearly went 2 down from a corner, luckily Chesney pulled off what can only be described as a world-class save. We nearly shipped another goal when a freekick was zipped over the bar marginally.
Cesc Fabregas came on for Alex Song which was the first of the strange substitutions. I didn’t think the man from Cameroon was having a bad game and there were plenty of others who clearly were. Cesc boosted our morale and we started to pressure Leeds.
The next sub was Theo. He came on for Chamakh, again, a bizarre choice considering 1) Chamakh was our leading scorer out there 2) Bendtner was having a shocker out wide and was clearly not in the frame of mind to move into the middle and have a stormer.
The final sub was Carlos Vela who came on for Rosicky, which was a fair shout, but I think Arshavin would have been a better option.
Anyway, we pressed and nearly won a penalty but Theo dived, something he admitted after the game, along with stealing Tommy Turner’s pencil case in year 4 at Junior School. Theo, we forgive you, your honesty and good upbringing shames the likes of John Terry and Wayne Rooney.
Moments later, Theo bounded into the area again, his shirt was tugged by Bromby, the ref pointed to the spot. Cesc stepped up and silenced 9000 very loud Leeds fans!
Jeez, that was close…
If Wenger wants to win the FA Cup, he’s going to have to make some big decisions about who he plays going forward. His second string aren’t good enough in large doses and that was highlighted today. Still, the good thing is we fought till the end, our heads didn’t drop and we have secured a replay. It’s not the end of the world, just a bit of ball ache having to head up to the North for a replay.
Arsenal’s fortunes changed when Theo came onto the pitch. He was excellent. If his finishing was a little sharper, he’d have won us that game on his own. He’s a real pleasure to watch at the moment and it finally looks like he’s starting to understand what is required at the highest level. I thought a JD once again deserves a big shout out. He was calm and assured next to the typically erratic Squillaci.
I also thought Gibbs played well it’s a shame he picked up an injury.
Oh wait, he didn’t… sorry, that last line was a force of habit.
Leeds deserve a lot of credit. They were physical, but they took the game to us today and that is a very brave thing to do. I applaud Simon Grayson for showing guts like that. It’s a shame that our players couldn’t handle that. There’s no parked bus excuse to hide behind today.
Next up… Ipswich Town in the Carling Cup… I’ve heard we’re on our way to Wembley if we smash these lot?!
Arsenal are rumoured to be back in for Sol Campbell for a third time. I love Big Sol but Wenger opting for him over Chris Samba, Brede Hangeland or Gary Cahill would be a showing a severe lack of ambition. If he’s not good enough for Newcastle, he sure as hell shouldn’t be anywhere near our line up. We need a player who can play more than once a week.
Another player we’ve been looking at is Falcao of FC Porto. He is the clinical Columbian many clubs have been looking at for a while. He’s agile, technically gifted and I’ve always been impressed when I’ve seen him play. He’d come at a price but when you’re one of the richest clubs in the world, that matters not providing City or Madrid aren’t sniffing around as well.
I have been assured that we are scouting players at the moment, so there is a chance that we might have a new player this window.
Don’t hold your breath though!
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