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Archive for November, 2008

Two straight losses, conceded five and scored zero. Gallas stripped of captaincy. Injury list getting longer and longer. How much worse can we get?

Alright, we don’t have Adebayor, Eduardo, Walcott, Rosicky, Eboue, Toure, Sagna, Gallas and Fabregas for this match, so I supposed a defeat was still somehow excusable. But having lost five matches even before Christmas is certainly unacceptable. This team is going through a crisis, no matter how Wenger denied it.

What Wenger must do in January:
1. Get a proper partner for Fabregas. Denilson is still too raw, and he obviously isn’t comfortable with the DM role. Denilson should be used as a sub to Cesc, or when Cesc is suspended or injured or need a rest.
2. Get a new world class CB to partner Toure. Gallas is definitely out after stripping his captaincy. Djourou has potential but its too risky to depend on him.
3. If Walcott and/or Rosicky are not going to return any time soon, we’d better buy a proper wide midfielder. Diaby and RVP are shit on the wings. Eboue is inconsistent. So we are only left with Nasri on the wings.

Wenger should really stop having the mentality that buying experienced players would halt the development of young players. If the youngsters are really good enough, they would push for the first team places when they are ready. You don’t have to create vacancies to cater for these youngsters and jeopardise our title hopes. If the youngsters are not even strong enough to fight for first team places, how do you expect them to fight against older and more experienced opponents in the premier league?

Let’s hope we are not too far off the top come January.

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I am running out of words to describe our players’ performance. Disgraceful? Disgusting? Lacklustre?

Wenger will have a lot of work to do. It’s only 1/3 through the league and we already have 4 losses. Fabregas looks a pale shadow of himself last season. Denilson is being forced to become a defensive midfielder when he is actually a similar player to Fabregas. Walcott is still too inconsistent to play week in week out, and Nasri is still adapting to the league.

It’s all Wenger’s fault that we have come to this. If Wenger deserved praise for winning us trophies in the past, he certainly should be held responsible for the decline of our team. His failure to keep Flamini or at least have an adequate replacement is surely haunting him right now. His promise of strengthening the central defence turns into a patronizing move of buying a cheap on-sale Silvestre, while sending Senderos out on loan.

Fabregas would miss the next match against Man City through suspension, which can be a good thing. Let him have some time to reflect on his performance, while we try out Ramsey who had been great in Carling Cup. But knowing Wenger, he would probably opt for a three-man midfield of Diaby, Denilson and Song. Walcott and Nasri will still be playing no matter how shit their performances are, simply because there are no other players to contest for the places.

At this moment, everything is wrong in the club. What’s the point of beating Man United when you are going to lose to Aston Villa the next week? So Wenger, what are you gonna do about it?

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Fabianski: 7 – Not much to do, make a very good save to keep a clean sheet.

Hoyte: 6 – Did ok defensively.
Song: 8 – Good composure, solid performance.
Djourou: 7.5 – Same as Song, very calm in defence.
Gibbs: 7 – Very fast and skilful going forward, decent at the back.

Merida: 6 – Didn’t do much, had some good passes.
Ramsey: 8 – Control the midfield very well, reminds me of a younger Fabregas.
Randall: 6 – Some very casual passes that lost possession.
Wilshere: 9 – Can’t believe he is not even 18. Great vision and passing in the assist for the first goal. Able to get out of tight situation like Hleb. Very good in dribbling and strong enough to hold off body challenges.

Vela: 8.5 – Should have scored the first goal but tried to walk the ball into the net. Great pace, and scored a wonderful goal. Good assist to Simpson.
Simpson: 7.5 – Two well taken goals. A decisive striker with good pace, strength and shooting technique.

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It’s always enjoyable to watch the young guns in carling cup matches. One point to note is that this carling cup team is even younger than the previous teams. Last season we still have some first team fringe players like Eboue, Walcott, Denilson, Diaby, Senderos, etc. But this season the average age is like 19 years old.

Wilshere, Vela and Ramsey are definitely players to watch. Out of these three, Wilshere probably have the best chance to play regularly in the premier league in the near future, due to the lack of wingers in the first team. Vela is immensely talented but we have Adebayor, RVP, Walcott, Eduardo, Bendtner as strikers in the first team so it would be much tougher to break through. Not to mention we played 4-5-1 occasionally with a lone striker.

So far Ramsey have been playing very well in central midfield. He has great passing ability, good composure and has good long shots. His style is very similar to Fabregas, but not quite sure whether he can play alongside Fabregas.

Good performance again and looked forward to their next match.

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Almunia: 7 – Looked uncertain when dealing with crosses, but overall did well. Could have avoided the injury if he was better at handling crosses.

Sagna: 6 – Need to work a lot on his crossing and improve his link-up play with Walcott.
Gallas: 8 – Very commited, played his heart out.
Silvestre: 7 – Awful back pass in the first minute. Overall did ok.
Clichy: 8 – Stuggled a bit with Ronaldo at first, but did well to restrict his play for most of the game.

Walcott: 6 – I lost count of how many times he lose possession. Did not connect well with Sagna, squandered a few chances and never really help out Sagna in defence. Good off the ball running that draws away the defender which leads to the second goal though.
Denilson: 8 – Showed a lot of commitment in defence. Did well in supporting the attack occasionally.
Cesc: 7 – Some great passes. A good assist to Nasri.
Nasri: 9 – Two goals against Man United. Good to have a goal scoring wide midfielder finally after Pires left.
Diaby: 7 – He did far better in a central role than on the wings.

Bendtner: 6 – Can see that he worked very hard, but not everyone can be an effective lone striker. Did ok against Rio and Vidic. Missed a couple of chances.

Subs:

Song: 7 – Did well to stay in his position and break down Man United’s attack.
Fabianski: 7.5 – Somehow I felt that he is more confident than Almunia in handling crosses.
Toure: 6 – Looked a bit lost when he brings the ball to opposition penalty area, and eventually lose possession. Not to blame him as it wasn’t his original position though.

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Nice victory against Man U. Gallas was solid for these few games. But our defense still looked shaky at the moment, as most of our players (midfielders) have very little defensive abilities and awareness. Our midfielders allowed them too much spaces, and the game could have easily gone the other way.

Hope this victory would give our players a confidence boost, and achieve some consistency in our future games.

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I actually looked forward to watching this match, thinking that the players would go all out to redeem themselves after that embarassing home draw against Spurs. I am hoping for a convincing win. A thrashing. But I was wrong. The players don’t seem to be interested, or up to it.

My heart sank when I saw the starting lineup. Diaby and Denilson on the wings?? Diaby had been awful on the wings, offering absolutely nothing, as evidence from last season. Denilson hardly played on the wings, and I don’t think he had the pace or trickery to provide any threat. What was Wenger thinking about?

In my opinion, Wenger got it all wrong. From the transfers, to trainings, to players selection.

1. Almunia is at best a good mid-table keeper, and a good second choice keeper for a title contender. We should keep him as a second choice keeper and bought a quality keeper before Lehman left. But Wenger preferred to save the money instead. Almunia made some great saves here and there, but most decent keepers make such great saves once in a while. Almunia lacked experience, and had been poor in his decision making. Many times, we saw him coming off the line but failed to get the ball, or staying on the line when he should have challenged for the ball.

2. Wenger should not let Flamini leave in the first place, and make a further mistake of not replacing him. Now, we have to make do with Denilson who do not have the discipline to stay in his defensive position, or Song who do not have the stamina or pace or experience, or Diaby who have neither discipline nor defensive abilities.

3. Wenger did not improve on our wing options. Hleb left in the summer and Rosicky was going through surgery before the summer. Wenger had ample time to strengten our wingers but he chose not to. He bought in Nasri who is a slight downgrade from Rosicky. He let Eboue and Walcott compete for Hleb’s position, but both players were not up to the standard. Eboue wasn’t an effective winger. Walcott can do mesmerizing dribbles but very often he does not know what to do when he dribbles into the penalty area. He would either lose the ball, or pass the ball to no man’s land.

4. Wenger said before the summer that he intended to improve on our defence. In the end, what he did was sent Senderos on loan and brought in a 31-year-old over-the-hill Manchester United reject. Alright, Silvestre had done quite ok in the few matches so far, but that hardly addressed our real defensive problem. We need a reliable long term centre back partnership that is able to deal with aerial threats. We do not have it now.

5. I really questioned the attitudes of our players. Clichy was the only one that showed he gave a damn. The rest were sloppy. Or are they getting used to losing?

6. We have no real leaders. Fabregas is still young but he is expected to lead a midfield that comprisee of players even younger than him. If Flaimini is around, he can be the driving force. But instead Fabregas have only Denilson/Song by his side. Toure had been shit this season, and I don’t really think the players look up to Gallas.

Now, its all up to Wenger and the players to prove their worth.

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