Is this squad good enough? No. Can we fix it? Yes, as I try to highlight how
Written by Chris on December 14, 2008 19:30
More than any other disappointing match this season, yesterday’s draw raised many concerns amongst Arsenal supporters, maybe more than defeats against Stoke and Hull did back then. Which is funny, when you consider that Liverpool, Manchester United and especially Chelsea, yet again, failed to take advantage of a faltering display from our lads. But of course, we can’t keep on smiling just because the other teams misfire. After all, we’re no longer in the top four.
Below, I will try to highlight what I – and you guys – believe are the squad’s problems at the moment, and any possible solutions to that. Is it Wenger? Is it the midfield? Or maybe the backline? Read on to find out, but before doing so, please understand that mine are not direct attacks at the players and coach, far from that, and that is why I am making sure to speak in their defense as well, when possible.
Just looking at his facial expression yesterday was enough to understand that the kid is in trouble, playing in a very crucial midfield position, yet not mature enough for the job. In his defense, I can’t understand why he was involved so much in our build-ups. Back in September, I awarded him the man of the match award for the away match against Dinamo Kiev because I was impressed by how good he can be as a HOLDING midfielder. Unfortunately, even if maybe that was supposed to be his job yesterday, he spent most of the time passing the ball around in Boro’s midfield without any real conviction. Isn’t Cesc supposed to orchestrate the midfield?
Denilson and Diaby
More problems in midfield come from these two. This is what one of you guys said in the post We’re fed up of excuses, Arsene.:
Denilson to me is a poor man’s Fabregas, he is a trier I will give him that, but in a midfield with him and Fabregas we lose all of Cesc’s influence on a game because he is playing too deep to cover for Denilson.
Spot on. Denilson didn’t impress me this season and had awful matches even when Cesc was suspended or injured. Now that Cesc is back, he’s playing on the wing and as soon as he can, he makes his way into the central midfield position creating a congestion of midfielders preventing us from having a nice, flowing move. Same problem with Diaby, only that Abou failed against Porto, failed yesterday, yet he was kept on the pitch for more than 75 minutes despite a pathetic display and a yellow card turning into a red. To Denilson’s defense, he tries hard in every single match, just like Song, so I respect these guys a lot for that. Diaby looks uninterested however and that’s a no-no.
The midfield may not be working as it should, granted, but we need a striker, a pure striker. Adebayor and Van Persie are way too inconsistent – when one of them delivers, the other one doesn’t – and that’s not our way forward I’m afraid. And if both of them fail to deliver, please help us God. We have Carlos Vela, of course, but our dear coach prefers to keep him on the bench and throw Bendtner out there.
It’s easy to summarise why we’re trophyless for so long and why he had this awful start to the new season: he’s proud and stubborn. Wenger wants to win the Carling Cup way, that is, using youngsters in this competition, then fielding them in the regular side, and see the results. Just like Denilson. He started as a Carling Cup midfielder and now he’s a regular and even though he’s not performing well, Wenger insists with him. On the other hand, Ramsey, Vela and Wilshere are not regulars this season because according to his books, this is only supposed to be their Carling Cup year. Stubborn.
To keep on quoting you guys, if he believes that we tried our hardest and STILL couldn’t beat Middlesbrough, then things are not looking good. Why can’t he just say that we were heartless and things need to be fixed? Maybe because when he said he would change “many players”, and that was after the Hull defeat, he ended by changing only one for the following match. Stubborn.
For the past year or two, the club has put money on the table for Wenger to spend, but he didn’t. That is because he knows that if he spends money for 5-6 strong players, just like other clubs do, and goes on to win something, he will be disappointed because he didn’t do it the Wenger way. Proud.
Now incidentally, I’m not asking Arsene to turn the Arsenal into a Chelsea or Manchester City. I – like many of you – am just asking him to sign two, maybe three experienced players to bring experience and wisdom to a side of youngsters which needs the guidance Gallas and Silvestre are not providing.
What if Wenger goes?
The one million dollar question. Many are scared to death of just the thought of seeing Wenger leave the Arsenal. Will we keep on playing nice football? Will we keep on using the youngsters just like he does? Will we not turn into a Chelsea? Make no mistake, your fears are also my fears and that is why I don’t want Arsene to go, but I want him to change his bloody mentality before it’s too late. However, please, enough calling Arsenal supporters ungrateful for questioning Wenger. No-one is lacking in respect and/or gratitude for what he did for us, for what we made us, but surely this doesn’t mean that we have to stick with him if – because of his stubbornness – we keep on winning zero and fail to make the Champions League!
Hleb and Flamini
In Wenger’s defense, there’s not much he can do if he builds a strong side yet two important pieces of the chessboard decide to leave for AC Milan and Barcelona respectively where one – Mathieu – is struggling to adapt to the Serie A game and the other – Alex – is yet to play a full 90 minutes for the Spanish leaders, including yesterday’s El Clasico where he came on in the 88th minute as a substitute. Wenger is trying hard to do it the cheap way in a world of business but seeing two important players leaving because they saw a gold coin shine from distance is not easy.
It’s not too late to fix things
If we beat Liverpool next week, we’ll only be -5 from them. Amazing, isn’t it? Aaron Ramsey, Carlos Vela and Jack Wilshere have to be used more. I don’t care if Jack is only 16 and not tall enough. Didn’t he do well against Porto? He was challenged, strongly, by Porto defenders, yet he stood up after each and every challenge, showing the determination that Mr. Diaby is missing. Enough of Silvestre, enough of Bendtner and enough of Diaby. As for Eboue, I would wait for him to fully recover from injury before asking for his head.
As we wait for Theo, Aaron has to replace Song with Carlos and Jack replacing Denilson and Diaby on the left and right wing respectively. And finally Eduardo, but it’s tough to say whether it should be Robin or Emmanuel to make space for him. For sure is that with his comeback, Bendtner has to be shown the exit door so as to see the squad having a strong striker in Adebayor, a pure striker in Eduardo, an outside striker in Vela and a hybrid of all this in Van Persie.