Yes, Gilberto played a part in the goal but before that he was awful. He did not put in a performance like he has done in his career and in the end we lost the midfield battle. Diaby played some part in this and here I will look at both of them in a bit more detail.
Gilberto let Jenas run through the middle to score a tap in and if you see the highlights and replay from behind the goal you see Gilberto jogging back with his arm pathetically in the air asking for an offside against Robbie Keane when he went clean through. One of the basic rules in football is to play to the whistle and deal with it afterwards. Had GIlberto tracked Jenas we may not have been one goal down. Senderos did the same thing here but that was Phil’s only real mistake in the game.
Every pass Gilberto seemed to make that was going more than 2 yards went astray. I lost count of the times the crowd were groaning when put a pass off target. He played the odd neat one-two with Denilson but to be honest they were not nescessary. When he tried to play a longer pass or more difficult pass, I cannot recall anything coming off until our goal.
He was muscled out easily and never really got close to Berbatov when he dropped into the space in front of the back 4. Gllberto’s job last night was to protect the inexperienced defence but in the space between midfield and defence there was a gaping hole that Gilberto was not filling. He was too slow over the pitch and looked like a man with a zimmerframe, im afraid in a team full of kids, Gilberto looked like the ageing grandad..
You could see Wenger on the touchline. He had gambled on playing Gilberto with no real midfield experience on the bench. Countless times he turned his back in frustration and flung his arms in the air in disbelief. What has happened to Gilberto over the last few months? Last season many had him as their player of the season. Had Fabregas, Rosicky or Hleb been on the bench they would have been on. He gave no springboard to Denilson and no protection to the back four, he is not helping the team on either front as Diarra did in the last round.
The midfield needed a dominant force in there like Flamini and we did not get it at all. Diarra showed it at Blackburn and Flamini has all season, our team looks far stronger with a more imposing player in the centre of the park . Don’t get me wrong, Djourou, Diaby had shockers too but to say Gilberto had a good game – as I have heard! – is not right. He had two good moments all game. If you are a striker and anonymous for 89 minutes but get a goal its not so bad, your job is to score after all.
IF youre a central midfield player and playing in a hard fought London Derby, in a semi final your passing has got to be good for almost all of the game, especially the easy passes, you have to battle hard and dominate the area around you. Gilberto had to help a young back four but left too much space Berbatov expolited over and over again. The rumours that Diarra will leave worry me as we are losing a massive talent in my eyes and keeping a man that will be sold in the summer surely.
I have stressed the importance of passing accuracy, especially in the midfield of a team like Arsenal. Diaby on the other hand does not seem to want to pass it. Wenger contiunes to use Diaby on the left as he cannot fit him into the centre. The problem is that he cannot play out on the left. Rosicky can do this job as he will go at players with pace, use his left foot and link play well with clever passing and movement. Diaby seems to just turn in circles while the ball does not once touch his left foot. Only when he finally realises he is going absolutely nowhere does he pass the ball and it is always back. A left sided player better with his right foot must be able to use his weaker foot, get to the byline at times and go at the full back.
If Wenger wants Diaby in the side he should have him alongside Denilson. These two had played in the other Carling Cup games, as had Kieran Gibbs. I would like to have seen Gibbs out on the left for some natural width, especially with the height of Bendtner in the middle. Wenger wanted to stick with the young players for the tie so why play Gilberto in the centre of midfield over someone who had played at Ewood Park in Diaby.
Lastly, Wenger revealed fresh injuries to Djourou, Van Persie and Senderos. Thank god Van Persie’s was only flu though. He should not have started in place of Eduardo and had he picked up a knock it would have unbelievable. Djourou could be out for a few weeks and that leaves us with Gallas and Senderos as natural centre backs. Justin Hoyte played there last night and did well in my eyes but he is naturally a right back, same with Sagna and right now I wouldn’t trust Gilberto in any position. With Senderos’s tendancy to get a red card when given an extended run in the team and Gallas proneness to injury I am worried. We could have no real experience if the skipper is out.
So what can Wenger do. He can either bring in a real quality centre-back who will be here for years to come and fight Toure and Gallas for the centre back position. Many will point to Micah Richards as this man but it is an unlikely buy for this window. Any suggestions? Another option is to bring in a player on loan. This works for me. It means that when Toure and Song return, we do not have an influx of centre backs. We do not need someone who is eligible to play in Europe as Toure will be back before the AC Milan first leg. Again, any suggestions?