More midfield problems exposed although Wenger may finally be understanding the cause
Written by Chris on April 12, 2009 17:30
I always like to write my post-match thoughts one day after the match in order to actually spend some time reading what the media and other Arsenal-based websites think of the match. On Wigan, I read a lot of mixed reviews, mixed feelings from our supporters. In this piece I will try to provide my point of view in what was another match of two halves.
Yesterday’s will surely go down as yet another match in which we were put under heavy pressure in the first half, only to come back strongly in the second and turn it around. I’m not sure if I could describe the win as an ugly one, I wouldn’t say so, I’d rather describe it as a lucky win because Gibbs had to be shown red and Ben Watson went so close to give Wigan a 2-0 lead just before the break.
Now I don’t mind winning ugly, but getting lucky, just like in that away match against Aston Villa, well, it worries me a little as sooner or later luck will come to an end. In many away games this season the script saw the lads bossed around in the first half but somehow getting something out of the match by a good performance in the second. But in a way, that’s because the opposition failed to kill us when they could have.
The all-so-famous holding midfield position
Almost four months ago, after a disappointing away draw at Boro, I wrote an article in which I labelled Arsene Wenger as being too proud to actually sign new players as had he went on to win something with them, it would have meant not winning the “Arsene way”. That was at the start of the season, more or less, when Denilson and also Song were not perfoming at all, and I kept asking myself why our boss didn’t sign experienced midfielders and why he insists with them rather than trying something new with the other players in the squad. My only answer to those concerns was indeed that his pride forced him to start over and over again with these two hoping that one day they will actually become good enough to be considered regulars. In my opinion, Song may but Denilson won’t.
Now as yesterday I was witnessing yet another disappointing performance from Denilson, such thoughts came back, wondering why this kid is still a regular in our team and why Wenger doesn’t want to realise he’s no good to hold the midfield. But then he took him off, and that caught me by surprise as I believe the Brasilian had more shocking performances this season in which however he was kept on the pitch, like Villa away from home. Has Wenger finally understood where almost all our midfield problems are coming from, I thought?
And then, after the match, I read this interview where our boss is quoted as saying: “I am a prisoner of my own policy. Buying Barry or Alonso is killing Alexandre Song, Abou Diaby and Denilson”. How to react when reading such comments and watching Denilson failing to make an impact – again – on the same day? It’s like as if Wenger is saying that he could have signed either Barry or Alonso but had he did so, Denilson and/or Song and/or Diaby would have been bench warmers or loaned out and therefore he decided to stick with what he had just for the sake of not ruining their careers.
All this is somehow confusing, especially when you consider that on the last day of transfers Wenger did actually place a last-minute offer for Xabi Alonso, but at least our boss is slowly opening his eyes and realising that if a player is not good, you can’t keep on using him out of mercy.
Yet we’re so close to have a perfect side
We all saw what happened after Denilson was taken off. With van Persie, Adebayor, Arshavin and Fabregas in full flow, the last minutes of the Wigan match where a joy to watch, even Song scored a goal to remember. So despite thinking that our problems in midfield should no longer be underestimated, I also think not much is required to have the perfect side and from yesterday’s interview it seemed our boss has finally realised what is needed ahead of next season.
After all, as I was writing the ratings for yesterday’s match, it came natural to use the words “capable of changing the match” when describing some of our players. Fabregas, Arshavin, Adebayor, Van Persie, Nasri also, are indeed all players who can invent a goal from nothing and turn a match around, just like yesterday. This clearly shows the strength of this Arsenal side, the depth and with Eduardo to soon make a full comeback and join this list, one can only smile when predicting what the future lies ahead for us.
Villareal next. Gibbs didn’t pass the test ahead of this crucial match and that is why I would go back to the 4-4-2 with Song alongside Toure at the back, Silvestre as left back and RVP and Adebayor up front. I’m very optimistic ahead of this one actually as I simply can’t see us fail to reach the semi-finals but we need to be careful and we need to make sure not to make the same old first-half mistakes where we allow opposition to boss the game around from the first minutes. And then, who knows, we may get Porto next!