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"

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