Light work my friends. That is what Arsenal made of a very odd Fenerbache side. I thought the only tactical option for them was to turn up all guns blazing. Instead they played the patience game and suffered the consequences.
I’m not going to give a detailed blow by blow account, but there were some notable incidents and performances in the game that merit further chat.
Firstly, the bad news. Our skinny squad really doesn’t take much of a hit to bruise like its been shot with a Metropolitan Police plastic bullet at a protest about school meals. Lukas Podolski pinged his hamstring so badly he had to be stretchered down the tunnel. I know they grade tears… That one looked like it sat in the bad category. Wenger said three weeks, when does he ever say anything different? We had to bring on Kieran Gibbs in his place, which worked out nicely, the concern for me is he’s a crock as well… and Monreal was pretty poor all night long. Against Spurs, he’ll be exposed as a weak link if he plays like that.
The good news on the playing front is we controlled the game with ease. Fenerbache didn’t stretch us at all. So we won’t be tired, and we’ve two days on Spurs who play Europa on Thursday.
Our keeper had a mixed bag. He made two or three superb saves, one at the near post in the first half was particularly excellent, along with the lovely early double save from Merieles. He did mix that in with a couple of needless flaps along with rushing out of his area. He always starts so deep… it’s no wonder he struggles to make it to the ball first.
Ramsey had another top performance. He’s adding goals and clinical passes to his game, which is always the sign a player has turned the corner. He’s playing with confidence and calmness. He’s playing with discipline and he’s throwing himself around like a man. About time… His two goals were well taken. The first came when Cazorla saw Theo’s run across the box, it looked like Theo or the defender edged it into the path of Ramsey who passed it home for the first goal.
The goal in the second half was a bit classier, some nice build up play saw Gibbs cut the ball to the near post with Ramsey steering the ball into the far corner. Cesc started to turn heads when he added goals to his game, it’s a sign of calmness… something that only comes with experience.
Great work. Jack must feel the pressure… which is superb news. The British core is being led by a Welshman, he knows that’s not right and he’ll up his game to compete. Inter-country competition… it’s a beautiful thing.
Cazorla was excellent as always. He’s a genius on the ball. Simple as that. He ferrets his way out of any space, he’s perfect with both feet and his vision is as good as the weighting he gives to each pass. Problem we have is that we only have one of him… which generally leads to overuse and fatigue. That’s why an Ozil would be an excellent move. Especially as Cazorla now has to move out onto the left side of midfield.
We finished the night with a front three of Sanogo, Miyachi and Gibbs. Amusing and Carling Cup like, but a distinct reality we might face as the season goes on. Sanogo, however you paint it is painfully raw. He’s not a ‘now’ player, but he’s out second best striker. Frightening. We don’t have a squad… we have many round pegs that seem the quite effectively slot into square holes. It’s not a sensible way to play and a strategy like that won’t bear fruit.
We need to spend £100m this week if we want to compete for things. £70m if we want top four. We’re in pretty bad shape heading into Spurs. A full back out of form. One adult striker. A left back in left midfield. Scary against a full Spurs squad who boast a bench.
On a separate point, the stadium was embarrassingly empty. Someone was trying to play the ‘people can’t afford it card’… sorry, not buying it. The showing at the ground was about ‘I can’t be bothered’. There’s no excuse this year, if you can’t afford it, sell your ticket or give it away to someone… You can get them a paper ticket, so you don’t even need to worry about giving them your card.
Leaving a spare empty really is poor… (read more about sharing a spare here)
Transfer wise, all the papers are trying to make their money today. The Mirror reckons third parties have offered us Benzema and Ozil, a bit like trying to sell your neighbours house (we’ve all been there after a beer or two)… not that we’re above listening… the Suarez deal a painfully naive example of that. The Telegraph reckons we have a 50% chance of Cabaye which probably means that deal is off. Oh and Arsene is making agitated ‘we’ll see what we can do’ noises.
People complain that I’m being negative, but I’m really not. It’s negative to take the attitude that beating Fulham and Fenerbache somehow means we’ll be ok this season. Positivity is wanting to improve because by doing so we stand a better outcome of a great season. If you believe we’ll compete with our current squad, you’re lying to yourself, because all the laws of reality clearly point to that being a falsehood.
I made the point last night that we ended the night with a front three of Ryo, Sanogo and Gibbs. Many thought this was perfectly acceptable as we were winning. Sure, it was acceptable if those introductions were by choice. They were the only players we could bring on. If players get tired at Spurs (which happens), those are our attacking options. Carling Cup options for a NLD… farcical regardless of the weight you’ve put into Wenger saying Sanogo will be a £50m player in 2 years.
Finally, some majorly exciting news, I have Simon Kuper coming on a podcast to chat about football and data. I can’t tell you how excited about this I am…mainly because its been a hot topic I’ve talked about a lot… because Arsene is behind the times. This guy co-wrote Soccernomics… it’s a great read if you’re a data geek. It goes way beyond Opta and Prozone, so tune in on Tuesday for that.