James Curtis blog: Eboue back to his worst


by JAMES CURTIS – Not surprisingly there was a general consensus on Sky Sports’ coverage yesterday to avoid discussing in depth the nature of West Ham’s goals. But as we can only cringe at the lack of heat generated in the studio over the dubious rulings of Chris Foy, Arsenal must first take a look at themselves as the primary benefactors who brought about their own destruction.
Jamie Redknapp agreed with the referee’s decision to award a penalty for Alex Song’s tap on Carlton Cole, which by the laws of gravity couldn’t have brought down the biggest player in the Highbury and Islington under-eight’s Sunday league.
Also, there was little acknowledgment that the free-kick leading up to West Ham’s first goal was, if anything, a foul on Abou Diaby and the dive by Scott Parker in Arsenal’s box was overlooked completely.
You get the impression if Parker was wearing red yesterday the tabloids would cry cheat, but instead the reputation of West Ham was savoured. Then again, why should we tarnish one the league’s oldest and hardest teams? It’s all honesty in the East End of London.
Primarily though Arsenal could have settled this game before Chris Foy had the chance to give the West Ham fans any sort of joy. Bad decision making cost Arsenal dearly, which brings around the debate as to why Wenger persists in playing Emmanuel Eboue?
“We complicated the game a little bit,” said Wenger. “We had five or six chances in the second half where we missed the final ball. That’s where we have to learn.
“In football sometimes you have periods like that. When you make a problem of it, it becomes a real problem. We have to play the football we love and learn when we are leading to kill the games off and keep playing the way we want to play the game.”
The biggest culprit of wasted chances is the Ivorian Eboue. Throughout his career at Arsenal his best position has undoubtedly been right-back. Since playing at right of midfield Eboue’s worth to the team has gone down in the estimation of Gunners fans, and now Wenger has completed the trend of pushing him further forward where expectancy to assist goals is far beyond Eboue’s ability.
Yesterday, Eboue took up good positions on a few occasions, this he is capable of, but his end product was always amateurish. Playing on the shoulder of the forward three Eboue wasted the first chance when he had time just inside the Hammer’s box on the left, yet he dallied, lost his balance and ultimately ended up picking out a West Ham defender.
There was one point where Eboue took up a similar position but smashed a cross behind arriving Arsenal bodies, typifying his lack of finesse and poor understanding of his team-mate’s movement. It was his final blunder though that summed up Eboue.
The score was 2-0 with around twenty minutes left, and a third goal would have bagged all three points. Eboue was slipped in right of the goal, but instead of sliding a simple ball across the box he looked to make amends for wasting earlier chances by shooting from an acute angle.
It’s something Eboue has done on many occasions, slashing at the ball and sending it wide of the near post without so much as making the goalkeeper work or make a mistake. It tells us plenty about the level Eboue is at compared to other players in the team.
On Tuesday night in the Champions League Robin van Persie was guilty of missing an early sniff at goal, but when he had the chance to put that wasted opportunity right he chose to pass to Fabregas for the opener. It was the better option and highlights the difference between Arsenal’s best and worst players.
To lay blame on Wenger’s decision to stick with Eboue even when Eduardo was sitting on the bench does not tell the whole story though. New choice goalkeeper Vito Mannone made the amateur mistake which directly led to the first goal, palming a free-kick back into the melee of bodies where Cole reacted quickest to nod into an empty net.
However, it is Wenger’s persistency in starting Eboue that needs explaining by the Frenchman.
“I had problems last season and Arsene Wenger was disappointed with my performances,” said Eboue before the game yesterday.
“I felt very down after the game against Wigan [when Eboue was booed off] I was feeling sick and I did not even want to come back to training.
“It was the lowest point of my career but now I feel much better. The smile is back on my face this season and things are going well for me.”
It is difficult to see where this change has come from because Eboue still makes the same errors that displeased fans last season. With a host of talent waiting in his shadow – notably Carlos Vela and Jack Wilshere – it is only a matter of time before the Emirates is ringing out with boos again.
Eduardo, Tomas Rosicky, Samir Nasri and Nicklas Bendtner are all returning to full fitness, so surely Eboue will be demoted to the bench. If not, the debate wont be about Arsenal’s wasted chances, but Wenger’s decision to waste another season of prospect.

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