The view from my new cattle class seats.
No chants for irresponsible spending rang out during or after the game but no mistake, everyone was thinking it, well those that decided to turn up (very empty last night). I was pleased the fans backed the players, yesterday was not the time for mutiny, it was the time for support. Our line up was fragile with youth and packed full of experience that was yet to cut it.
Theo opened his account early on in the evening, this was the catalyst for a calm night in the stands. He latched onto an Aaron Ramsey through ball and perfectly manoeuvred his body to bury his shot inside the keepers near post. Relief…
Back down our end, Udinese managed to hit the bar from a well struck freekick but we scrambled away. Di Natale looked dangerous and the Italian team was packed full of powerfully built pace machines.
This was exposed when their striker waltzed through the middle of our team with only Song chasing back, thankfully Chezzer was on hand to make a top drawer save followed by a great Song clearance.
Half time came and we’d played out an exciting half, though we struggled to convince in the midfield and up top, we might as well not have had a striker. Chamakh was awful, as my Arse mate said, unless he is relaying a backwards pass it’s hard to see what he offers.
The second half opened with a sub. Surprisingly it was Kieran Gibbs who had strained his calf strain. What can I say? I’m shocked it took this long. Arsene clearly not into judging squad depth by injury records. A massive oversight as usual.
JD came on, Tommy V slipped out wide on the left and within moments he’d slid in to deny Udinese a goal scoring chance. A great interception.
It was game over for JD shortly after that. His fragile 14 stoned frame was broken… again. If it wasn’t so comical, I’d have cried. Jenko came on and slipped in at left back.
Rambo slipped Theo in again, this time he fluffed his lines worse than King George in the nervous days.
Down the other end Chezzer kept out the freekick Ronaldo whizzed past Almunia in the champions league 3 years ago. What a crucial save!
Wenger knew the importance of a clean sheet out weighed another goal. He took off the mostly anonymous Rosicky and threw Frimpong on, by far the best thing that happened to the game.
He gave Arsenal some belief, he chased round the park like a pit bull that had been sprayed in the face with deep heat. He motivated the whole team and we started playing with more confidence and belief than we had in a long time.
Di Natale broke free of the defence and struck the post… From our view it looked like the main post, on replay it was the post that held up the net!
Gervinho looked to have another good penalty shout turned down… he should have a word with Eboue about working on that (watch out for those Turkish roaming charges though!).
The final role of the dice game when Theo was played in by some superb Gervinho trickery but was denied by a terrific save.
We need to sign some players. At times we barely looked like a top 4 side. Confidence was lower than I’ve ever seen and we didn’t look like we believed in our game. Simply put, we don’t have the quality to make through a season and compete. We have lots of potential, but without the glue of quality experience, we’ll struggle.
Udinese weren’t a massive threat but we made them look so. We really look poor with Chamakh up top and when you have a team that doesn’t have the directness of Nasri or the vision of Cesc, you end up with a confused mess at times.
Wenger can’t keep on pretending we have team spirit and belief. The fans need to see intent to improve as do the players. The crowd were generous last night, they could see that it wasn’t the players fault and for once, they could see that they were all trying their best. Wenger has a short amount of time to turn this squad around. If he does, we can still launch a 4 pronged assault on this campaign. If he fails, we really could be in trouble because if you scratch below the surface of the squad… their really is nothing behind the layer you saw last night.
Take nothing away from yesterday though, that result was massive. Two clean sheets in a row and some very positive defensive displays. We’re still prone to the odd Rohan Rickett, but we’ve got top class talent in goal helping us out. We need a left back badly, that was a huge oversight by Wenger, that could cost us stability. We need a striker, possibly 2 centre backs, a left back a creative outlet and a striker.Not too much to ask in 15 days is it?
Next up… A revitalised Liverpool.
Chezzer: Solid commanding performance littered with good saves. He oozes confidence and presence. 8
Vermaelen: Solid performance and little sign of rust from his sabbatical. He showed great battling spirit yesterday but he’s also calming influence. 7
Kozzer: Another encouraging game from a player who I think will prove people wrong this year. 7
Sagna: A beast of a player with an attitude that should form the baseline for any future purchase. He boasts speed, agression and superb awareness. 8
Gibbs: Has a tendency to not know where he’s standing. Floats wildly out of position and most importantly, never lasts more than 3 games. 6
Song: A lot of dopey passes that put the team under pressure but at the same time, some great tackles and interceptions. 6.5
Ramsey: A lot of debate around this performance. The outside eye looking at what he can bring to a challenge now, I’d say he disappointed at times. For a 19 year old being thrown in at the deepend I’d say he worked hard, never gave up and was by far our most creative outlet in a game that lacked that ingredient. 7
Rosicky: What is he good for? He keeps the ball moving, occasionally puts the boot in, other than that, he’s just a body that scrapes by. He should be taking the lead, not melting away into the background. 6
Theo: certainly has some swagger about him this year and he definitely looks motivated. Scored a great goal but also wasted some great chances. His final ball was also a little desperate as well. 6.5
Chamakh: One of the most ability retarded strikers to pull on an Arsnal shirt. How did he get the gig? Vik Akers long lost love child perhaps? He offers us nothing. His control is embarrassing, his movement telegraphed. He can’t play with his back to goal, he doesn’t shoot, he’s of no use from corners. We’ve been sold a dud and the better version is sitting on the bench with a ‘Made in Denmark and I’m the best’ stamp on his back. Very poor, very worrying… because you know at some point, we’re face with Chamakh being our only outlet. 4.5
Gervinho: After the dust had settled on the cheers of ‘Wenger’s unearthed another gem’ proclamations, it’s clear that what we have is a very rough diamond. He’s a hard worker, but I’m hard pressed to see how he greatly improves the team. His final ball is rusty and his decision making at times is terrible. For me, he’s like a slightly more cultured Eboue. I’m sure he’ll grow with the season, and my hope he is that he turns into the wing version of Adebayor in 2008. I like his work ethic and I like that he doesn’t let bad moves get him down… a bit like most middle-aged men on the dance floor. 6.5
Frimpong: I told you last year that people inside the camp said Frimpong was the real deal in terms of passion for football. He’s a fighter, he’s built like a tank and he seems to love Arsenal to the core. We’re starting to bring through players who genuinely have a passion for the club, not a passion for the dollar. He came on yesterday and changed the attitude of the team. He raised confidence and he pressed Udinese the same way Barcelona press teams. I really like him. He shouldn’t be overused this year, but he should be given playing time. He’s an important player for the future and a handy one now. 7.5
Jenkinson: Came on and did a good job filling in at an alien position. Can’t work him out yet, but he’s looking pretty good. 6.6
JD: Good tackle. Breaks down. 6
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