World Cup Thoughts: How Arsenal players fared, June 11
Written by Chris on June 12, 2010 11:10
As maybe was expected, the first day of World Cup football offered very little worth mentioning as all four teams involved on day one felt the pressure and only managed a draw in their respective Group A matches.
As promised, myself and some of my colleagues will be providing our point of view on the matches making sure to focus on how each and every Arsenal player performed. Today I’m joined by Erik as we analyse the first two matches of the competition.
South Africa vs Mexico – Chris
Strange one this one. I never expected the Mexican side to approach the match with such a brave attitude just as they did in their friendly games against England, Italy and the Netherlands. That is, I was expecting a much more safe line-up at the back, yet once more, Javier Aguirre opted to dictate the play by leaving huge gaps at the back.
Statistics say that the two teams had a combined twelve attempts on target but one could easily see how both teams were reluctant to step it up a gear and find the opening goal in the first half.
Granted, El Tri enjoyed plenty of possession but were not as adventurous as they were in friendlies and whenever they tried to accelerate, they lacked in ideas.
Carlos Vela tried, but was not enough. As usual, he timed his runs to perfection and also turned provider with a fabulous through ball to Guillermo Franco in the first half, but when his team mates had to pick his runs, unfortunately they almost always failed to do it.
All in all, it was a disappointing first match for the 21-year old but I’m more than sure that he can bounce back against France, especially since the pressure will be much less next Thursday.
France vs Uruguay – Chris
If the 15:00 match in Johannesburg offered some sort of entertaining, the evening match in Cape Town was a pain to watch.
With Thierry Henry starting from the bench and three Arsenal players starting just as they did in friendlies before the competition, the former winners failed to break the Uruguayan defence even when Oscar Tabarez’s side were reduced to then men for a nasty foul on Bacary.
Speaking of the right back, he played a very solid game and it was nice to see him push forward with conviction and produce some nice crosses which he usually fails to do when playing for Arsenal. William Gallas, on the other hand, was so-and-so at the back and also failed to make an impact from set pieces as he usually loves to do.
In midfield, Abou Diaby also had a very good game and some of his tricks in the middle of the pitch were a joy to admire, maybe one of the best things offered by such a dull encounter.
South Africa vs Mexico – Erik
Our resident Mexican international started for El Tri, tracking down his passport for the World Cup opener and logging 69 minutes (don’t giggle), putting together a very Carlos Vela type of game. He flashed a lot early, smashing in a goal that was eventually ruled offside, but seemed to run out of gas a bit in the second half and was eventually subbed for 800-year-old Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Quite how Vela could be offside on a corner kick is beyond me, but that’s how things seem to go with Carlos Vela.
France vs Uruguay – Erik
Sagna was solid at right back for France, playing the full 90 and keeping Uruguay off the scoresheet. The real story here was the near broken leg that Sagna escaped after a Uruguayan player ninja kicked him in the ankle, picking up a red card with his second yellow and leaving Uruguay a man down. France couldn’t capitalize, although Sagna was heavily involved down the right-hand side in attack, feeding ball-after-ball into the box for Thierry Henry’s stunt double. Regardless of France’s performance, let’s just be thankful we didn’t end up with another player with a shattered leg and a swath of excuses from the English press for the leg-breaker.
Not really sure how else to say this so I’m just going to dive in headfirst: It would be absolutely fantastic if William Gallas were to sign a £100k/week contract with another club. He fluffed headers, misplayed passes, and stormed up and down the field with little regard for his fellow defenders. Au revoir, William.
Never been a fan of Diaby, his dribble-until-I-die methodology is one of the most frustrating things I’ve witnessed in the Arsenal side in years, but he was surprisingly effective against Uruguay in the center. After getting the nod over Chelsea’s Florent Malouda to start, Diaby made a few strong runs deep into Uruguay’s territory before usually over-dribbling his way into a turnover or misplacing a tricky pass. But he was stronger than expected, and showed some pops of brilliance that have teased Arsenal fans for years. One BBC announcer described him as “gangly” … I wasn’t sure what it meant when I couldn’t think of a more-flattering adjective.