Friday, 27 May 2011

Mindless Chants #2

From Sunday’s match at the Cottage:

“Spend some f***ing money”

It is unfortunate that the majority of fans, clearly from the video game generation, confuse reality with Championship Manager or some equivalent. The big question, of course, is who would you buy? But more of this later.

The fundamental issues, as I have mentioned before, are mental strength and style of play. The two goals against Fulham were brought about by rapid, direct movement. In the first, Diaby superbly lost Sidwell in midfield which opened up space for a quick passing movement for RvP to slot home. The second, a fantastic long ball from TV, skilfully knocked into space by Theo which took his marker out of the game and enabled him to run through on goal. For a second, once he was in the box, I thought he was going to pass but he showed the selfishness of all good strikers and stuck the ball in the net via the far post.
These two elements, quick passing and beating your man, were absent from much of Arsenal’s play throughout the 90 minutes as they have been for most of the season where the overarching approach has been: let the opposition get organised defensively, then we’ll slowly retain possession (until they fall asleep?).

What this achieves is, almost bizarrely, that both sides have all their players behind the ball. It is as if AW realises our defensive frailties and is organising the defence as we attack! The percentage ball is always played and no risks are taken – opponents are not taken on and men are not pushed forward into the box.

I believe that the current squad have the technical ability to play a high tempo game and take their man on. Whether they do is down to the manager directing such an approach and the confidence of the players to put it into practice. From the AW’s perspective, he may be unwilling to do this unless he feels confident in the defence. As for the players, that confidence comes from the habit of winning and mental strength.

So, summer purchases?
TV’s return is welcome and against Fulham he looked solid (though he should have put more of a challenge on Zamora when he scored their second). I would like to see a new centre-back who is primarily a defender in the Campbell/Keown/Adams type.
Left back is a potential problem area which is probably why there has been speculation regarding Baines. Clichy performance level has dropped off and he may go. Gibbs didn’t impress yesterday.
Midfield could see some changes – Fabregas and Nasri could both go as well as Rosicky and Denilson. With Frimpong and Eastmond waiting in the wings, a short-term purchase such as Parker may give the opportunity to get some of the right attitude into this area. If he rates Frimpong and Eastmond, AW won’t go for a 25 year old who will limit their medium term chances. A post-Fabregas team would allow Arshavin (if he stays!) to play as the point of a three man midfield or off the central striker in a 4-4-2. This is his natural position and, I believe, he’d be much more effective here.
Up-front: NB52 will go to Bayern and score loads of Bundesliga goals. With Arshavin playing centrally, a new wide player is required. The key requirements are pace and the ability to take on the opposition ideally cutting in from the left – Eboue?? AW has a history of buying central midfielders, typically the traditional #10 playmaker, and then playing them wide. I think the time has come for a change in approach with a more traditional pacey wide man in the mould of Nani, Valencia, Ashley Young. I’ve no one particularly in mind but perhaps we don’t need to buy: Ryo Miyaichi who joined in January and was loaned to Feyenoord could fill this role.

Finally, to end on a lighter note, another chant from the Cottage:

"It should have been Jedward,
You're statue is sh*t"

Friday, 20 May 2011

A further comment on the season

“they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

Monday, 16 May 2011

Have watched MOTD2

Key points:

  1. Bent's first - onside
  2. Bent's second - offside
  3. Poor defensive line for both
  4. Dunne took out Ramsey - no contact with the ball - penalty!
  5. Disallowed Chamakh goal - very soft decision
  6. Mark Lawrenson saying that everybody knows what Arsenal need but then not actually saying it - he's a complete waste of space, worse football 'pundit' ever!
  7. General MOTD2 coverage - shite particularly the cartoon of Kenny D pulling rabbits from a hat

A summation of Arsenal’s season?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

What the Dickens!

Time for a change of approach, AW?

From an article by Jonathan Wilson on Valeriy Lobanovskyi, the coach who achieved great success with Dynamo Kyiv.

"When we are talking about tactical evolution," Lobanovskyi and Zelentsov wrote in their book, The Methodological Basis of the Development of Training Models, "the first thing we have in mind is to strive for new courses of action that will not allow the opponent to adapt to our style of play. If an opponent has adjusted himself to our style of play and found a counterplay, then we need to find new a new strategy. That is the dialectic of the game. You have to go forward in such a way and with such a range of attacking options that it will force the opponent to make a mistake. In other words, it's necessary to force the opponent into the condition you want them to be in."

My emphasis!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Villa at home

A poor first half display and an equally poor response by a sub-set of the fans who booed at half-time and then, in the second, engaged in an extended "6%, you're having a laugh" as the team was showing the fight to get back into the game.
Some of the comments and player ratings in the blogosphere are ridiculous but are unsurprising given the attitude referred to above.
Bent took his goals well though there was a hint of offside for both - MOTD will confirm this or not!
First half was typical Arsenal - possession but no penetration and poor defending with Squillaci failing to cope with Bent's movement.
The 2nd, with Squillaci off, Chamakh on and Song dropping back, saw a more determined Arsenal with a more direct approach that created a number of chances.
Another 'where's he hiding' game from Theo though he actually blossomed towards the end rather than his usual start well and fade. He was lucky not to be substituted when NB52 came on, AW preferring to take off Arshavin who was actually exhibiting a lot of fight and causing Villa problems - this seemed odd (both the substitution and AA's effort!). But after that, Theo started to get involved a bit more, perhaps realising that with men in the box his crosses might stand a chance of being converted. One was but Chamakh appeared to be harshly penalised for a push on a Villa defender - again MOTD will clarify.
AW seems to have learnt nothing from the Stoke game. Arsenal look much better with a target man up front meaning RvP plays as the leading point in the midfield triangle (as in the 2nd half today and at Stoke) or is played  wide up front.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Keely Smith returns!

Top right! See previous post

Arsenal v. ManU

A great win for the Gunners despite the best efforts of another incompetent ref who received advice and guidance throughout the match from the ManU #10.

Arsene must read CBP! How many men did we get in the box for our goal?

Have seen headlines post-match that suggest Arsene now feels that he doesn't need to spend in the summer! Hopefully he is just being mischievous with the media. A good performance when essentially the pressure is off can't mask the difficiencies with regard to mental strength that have been apparent all too much this season. Arsene is continually talking up the spirit of the side but I think it is just that - like in politics, if you repeat something enough if becomes accepted even if untrue.

So a good result but still much room for improvement. Theo started brightly (again) but then lapsed into making those runs that see him hide behind defenders so he can't receive the ball. His movement off the ball in the lead up to the goal was first-class, however, as he created space for RvP - seem to remember him doing a similar thing in a previous match against ManU when he created space for Samir. Work rate off the ball from both Theo and Samir was poor especially the latter's non-tracking of Fabio that led to ManU's best (only?) chance in the first-half. There seems to be some kind of zone of responsibility thing here - midfielders track their man back to a certain point and then seem to assume that a defender will pick them up irrespective of whether that defender is already marking a player or not.