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Archive for December, 2008

A draw and a win

Don’t really have time to write too much about this….So we have a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa and a narrow 1-0 win over Portsmouth during the Christmas period. The performance wasn’t satisfactory to me, but I was ok with the results given that we had missed Fabregas, Walcott, Rosicky, Eduardo, etc.

Will the injury of Fabregas force Wenger to buy during the January transfer window? I am not quite sure. Most probably he would use Denilson and Diaby like what he did against Portsmouth. I just hoped we can hold on to the top 4 spot by the end of the season. Nothing in the first half season had convinced me that we can win the league. A top four finish would be good enough for our current team.

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Almunia: 7 – Did ok, not his fault for the goal.

Sagna: 6 – Rather average.
Gallas: 8 – Solid performance. If he can concentrate on just playing and not talking to the press, I don’t mind keeping him around.
Djourou: 6.5 – At fault for the goal. Otherwise a rather solid performance.
Clichy: 6 – Same as Sagna. Needs to improve his crossing.

Nasri: 7.5 – Hardworking, full of running, one of our very few creative outlets.
Denilson: 7 – Looks more comfortable at the centre.
Song: 6.5 – Looks a bit casual sometimes
Cesc: 6.5 – Decent performance

RVP: 7.5 – Very well taken goal.
Adebayor: 7.5 – Very good work rate, combine well with RVP. Unlucky to be sent off.

Diaby: 5 – Wenger is right when he says he is not quite tactically ready (something like that). Tends to hold up the ball too long.

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Anyway, I am quite satisfied with a draw with Liverpool, considering our form and injuries. The bad thing of course is Cesc’s injury and Ade’s suspension. Let’s see what Wenger can do during January transfer.

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Yet another lacklustre performance. This crop of players are simply lacking in quality and drive. We seriously lack pace, penetration and creativity in our attacks. We no longer play beautiful football.

Well, in the first place what can you expect when Arsene fielded four CMs in the midfield? Playing Denilson and Diaby on the wings is disastrous. Who can we blame except Wenger for this severe lack of quality in all departments? He went into the season knowing that Rosicky will be out for most part of the season. He knew very well that Nasri is only 20 and needed time to settle in a new country and new league. He knew that Walcott is still very young and thus inexperienced and inconsistent. He knew (or perhaps he doesn’t) that Eboue is at best average at the right wing. Yet, those are the only decent options we have. Unless you count Denilson and Diaby as options.

Song was playing alongside Cesc recently. But he was just too slow and sloppy to be our defensive midfielder. Apart from all these, our players seemed to be too static. Our style of play relies on fast and precise short passes, combined with lots of off-the-ball movement. However, in this season, our passes are slow and inaccurate, and there was very little off-the-ball movement. There were so many times when Cesc was trying to do a forward pass only to find the players standing still with defenders around them.

Our defence as usual, was leaking goals like a dripping tap. Clichy was committed but was proned to one concentration lapse per game. Quite often, this lapse results in goals. It doesn’t help when the players around him were just ball watching (Diaby and RVP in this case).

There were so many problems with our team right now that I don’t know how Wenger is gonna fix them. He opted for mediocrity and now he is reaping what he sowed. Next match is Liverpool. I am afraid if we accidentally beat them, Wenger will again be deluded that this team is good enough and refuse to strengthen it this January.

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Absolutely disgusting.

No, I am not refering to the team’s narrow win over Wigan. I am refering to the crowds that booed Eboue. Those so-called fans that booed Eboue instead of getting behind the player, just because he misplaced a few passes in the final minutes. This was Eboue’s first match after he came back from injury, and he did reasonably well on the left wing as a substitute, despite being deployed out of position. In the final 5-10 minutes, Wigan was exerting enormous pressure on us, and the players were panicking and giving away the ball. Eboue gave away the ball 2-3 times and was booed by his own fans.

When Eboue was being substituted out of the field in the dying minutes of the game, the crowd booed him even louder. I could see he was probably in tears and I really felt very bad about it. Eboue was often made a scapegoat by his own fans, but now the booing was really uncalled for. It’s such a disgraceful act by these so-called fans.

I wondered how Eboue and the rest of the players felt. If I were them, I would probably be thinking why am I playing for such a team, in front of such “fans”. These fans had better go home and reflect on themselves and their poor upbringings.

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I actually have very high expectation for this carling cup team and was very disappointed to see it crashed out of carling cup. Burnley was very aggressive and did not give any space for the young gunners. Great result for them and hope our kids learn a lot from this experience.

What makes our carling cup games so interesting is that we are able to get a glimpse of our future first team players. Of all the carling cup players so far, I foresee Wilshere, Ramsey, Vela and Fabianski would be able to make it to the first team within 2-3 years. Wilshere is incredibly talented at the young age of 16. His dribbling, close control and balance reminds me of Hleb. Ramsey is like a younger version of Fabregas: calm, accurate passing and good vision. Of course he is still a long way from Fabregas, but he is just like Cesc was four years ago. Vela has very good off-the-ball movement, pace and skill, similar to Eduardo but much younger. As for Fabianski, he has potential but it’s more a case of the lack of good goalkeepers currently in Arsenal.

Gibbs had a good game and is very similar to Clichy and Traore: fast, offensive-minded, good attitude, good dribbling but average defensive skills. He has the potential to make it to the first team in future, but he still has Clichy ahead and Traore to compete with. Gavin Hoyte, on the other hand, I doubt is able to make it to first team. He can be a good squad player, but at some point I would foresee him going to a midtable team. As for Rodger, it’s the first time I saw him but he really didn’t impress. At the age of 19 I guessed his future at Arsenal would be very very dim.

Randall hadn’t really impress me so far. Seemed to casual at times. Fran Merida looked ok, but he don’t have the pace and trickery to play wingers or wide midfielders. At central attacking midfield, we had Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby and Ramsey. So it looked rather difficult for Merida to break into the first team.

Bendtner is already in the first team but would he get more games in future? Especially when Eduardo is due to return from injury and Vela on the verge of first team. Anyway, it would be good to see more competition for places.

So in my opinion:

1. Those who will make it into first team:
– Wilshere
– Ramsey
– Vela
– Fabianski

2. Have 50% chance of making into first team:
– Merida
– Gibbs

3. Will move on to other premier league teams (after staying as squad players for a while):
– Gavin Hoyte
– Randall
– Rodger
– Simpson

And lastly, Silvestre is poor. Very poor. Still don’t understand why Wenger bought him.

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Almunia: 6 – Did well generally, but should learn to catch the ball instead of punching them away.

Sagna: 8.5 – Defensively solid.
Clichy: 8 – Looked a bit lacking in confidence but played his heart out.
Gallas: 8 – Looked solid at the back.
Djourou: 8 – Strong and fast, and read the game really well. Unfortunate for the own goal.

Denilson: 5 – Didn’t contribute much. Not really his fault that he was played out of position.
Nasri: 6 – Poor first half, stepped up in the second half.
Fabregas: 8 – Brilliant performance. Back to his best again.
Song: 7 – Average first half, but did very well defensively in second half.

RVP: 9 – Two great goals.
Ade: 8 – Involved in both goals. His physical presence and work rate created space for other players.

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Hopefully our players don’t get carried away by this win and then lose their next match to Wigan. We seemed to always step up against the big teams but slack against the lesser teams.

With Walcott, Rosicky and Eboue still injured, we are really suffering from a lack of wide midfielders. It looks worrying if Denilson (or even Diaby/Eboue) is to play on the wings for a huge part of the season, especially when Nasri is still adapting to the physical aspect of the premier league.

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